The Dangers Of Boredom

By W.R. Jones


    When we traversed the Panama Canal we had this tugboat alongside the ship for most of the journey.  I couldn’t figure out the purpose of the escort since it wasn’t pushing or pulling us.  I thought it might be to prevent us from jumping overboard to swim ashore and defect.  I expect this could be a big problem with the plethora of American vacationers wanting to live in the jungles of Panama.

    Later I found the real humanitarian purpose of this vessel.  When you enter the canal, the ship picks up a Panamanian narrator.  His role is to spend 8 hours non-stop explaining the history and operation of the canal.  The cruise director had warned us that he could be a little dull and that we could not escape the narration as it would be broadcast throughout the ship for the entire day. 

    The warning was not strong enough.  If it had been I would have taken my chances and swam ashore to defect.   Christ! that man was boring; Panama Canal this, Panama Canal that, Panama Canal the other.  A passenger standing on the deck beside me commented there should be a drinking contest where you downed a shot every time the narrator said the words Panama Canal.  No one would have survived.   The boring little man would book no substitutions.  He was not about to say waterway, locks, lake, etc., or even just canal, it had to be Panama Canal each and every mention.

    So, as it turns out, the purpose of the tug is to pick up those who have been numbed into sleep at the rail and tumble overboard.  This could have been me if some quick thinking fellow passenger with ear plugs had not snagged me by my shirt collar and pulled me back.  He put me down on the deck where I slept through the trip.  Thus, I really don’t know exactly how that canal business works.  I felt fortunate that none of those overeating walrus passengers stepped on me

This entry was posted in Humor, Landscape, Painting, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to The Dangers Of Boredom

  1. bookbabie says:

    Funny post, lovely painting:)

  2. WR Jones says:

    Thanks. Can I shorten your handle to bookie and place a bet for Saturday’s game?

  3. Ethan says:

    That’s a funny narrative – I’ve been in situations like that myself.
    I really like your artwork! Your paintings are really quite beautiful.

  4. Anna Surface says:

    Toot-toot! Now, that is a really fine tugboat painting. Is that a cave entrance, by chance, in that hill? That poor, poor narrator having to explain non-stop for 8 hours about the Panama Canal. Is it a wonder the poor soul wasn’t parched from all that constant yakking and probably had Panama Canal nightmares at night…? LOL A nice ha-ha story about the, uh, waterway. LOL

  5. 100swallows says:

    Nice story, Bill. I think the little tug was only trying to get someone to paint it.

  6. gypsy-heart says:

    Good painting!
    I so know what you mean by boring tour guide. On one of the trips to Italy we had a tour guide in a gallery (can’t remember which one). You had to crowd aound close to hear her and she wanted you to just look at her face while she kept talking and talking and talking…only allowing us to glance at the master pieces when she took a quick necessary breath!!My friend and I kept inching back in the circling crowd until we were at the back. When they walked on we slowly slipped away! We re-joined them at the end and no one knew the difference because she was still talking!
    You needed a little life boat tied on the opposite side of the tug boat. :)

    Ps Did Lisa see the “Devil frog” fossil they found?
    “The frog, as stated, was in the shape of a bowling ball and weighed in at around 10 pounds. It was around a foot and a half long as well.” had teeth. When I saw this I though of Lisa…this is her nightmare. :O

  7. WR Jones says:

    Thanks Ethan.

    Anna, that is supposed to be a shack you blindy. How can you take such good photos with that vision problem?

    100s – There was a man on the deck of the tug making motions that would mimic using a paint brush. Or, it could have been he was giving me the finger.

    Gypsy – Now you’ve done it. Lisa won’t leave her room knowing there are giant frogs out there. I saw what you are refering to in yesterday’s USA TODAY. Are you staying at a hotel too?

  8. kevmoore says:

    This reminds me of the tug that brought “santa” alongside for christmas in the caribbean a few years back, when I was singing on the MV Ocean village. I watched, bemused, as they tried to ferry a festively fat red dude across open water into a gaping hatch perilously close to the waterline. Aside from the obvious devil may care “its christmas, who cares if its a safety issue?” attitude, I wondered about the effect on the delicate young minds who thought santa came down the chimney, as opposed to tramp steamer. By the end of the day though, tradition was winning as we were all so brassed off with “santa” there was a plan afoot to chuck him down the funnel so he could take his chances in the boiler.

  9. Anna Surface says:

    You don’t say? LOL I’m used to seeing things dug into a hill… like root cellars. Toot-toot!

  10. I don’t know when you were in Panama but didn’t they Ipods or earplugs for this kind of danger?! Loved your story so I hate to say it, but I’m glad you suffered so we could hear it.

  11. wrjones says:

    Susan – if you like suffering you should paint with Lisa.

    Like many of life’s dangers you don’t realize you are even in trouble until you awake trying to swim out of the way of a tug wondering, “What the hell? I was just standing there listening to some droning sound. How did I get here?”

  12. 01varvara says:

    Reminds me of one word… INTOURIST. Those of us who went to the Soviet in the bad old days remember that word and the obvious “minders” that the KGB assigned to watch us. You couldn’t point your camera in the “wrong” direction without receiving a long, boring, and earnest “prophylactic chat” about how one could be deported… et cetera, et cetera, et cetera (yes… all delivered in a perfect rendition of the Yul Brynner accent).
    Furthermore, you knew that they didn’t believe a word of it, as by that point there was no one except for a deaf-mute janitor at Lenin’s tomb and a spastic retired schoolteacher from Irkutsk who believed in communism.
    You couldn’t escape it, for when the guide led the group to the next room in the gallery, you had to follow. Why were all Intourist guides ignorant of art? They couldn’t even tell Repin from Surikov (Yes, Bill, they did misidentify… I wanted to spit bullets.), let alone Falk from Filonov. In short, I had a foretaste of purgatory… God was kind to me. Purgatory consists of listening to someone misidentify every work they point out… and you MUST keep your silence (how would you have handled that one, Bill?)!


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