My wife and I are big Southern University Jaguar football fans. We have traveled to Indianapolis, Indiana, to Jacksonville, Florida, and to some place called Normal, Alabama, to see the team play.
For years, we drove or flew to the games. We don’t drive as much these days to games that are more than three hours away. Instead, we have joined the smart and mature crowd on Jaguar fan buses.
I like the buses because the cost to ride usually includes a game ticket and food. Sometimes, there are little hiccups, though. On one occasion, the bus trip provider left the game tickets at home. So, we took up a collection to purchase tickets for everyone. We were compensated later, so all ended well.
This past week, I was on a bus trip that started on a sour note but got better. I really appreciate the travel host who sold me the last two seats left for the trip to Jackson, Mississippi.
Now that it is over, we can all laugh about what happened.
Less than two minutes into our journey, the bus driver discovered that one of the tires was nearly flat. He quickly pulled the big 55-passenger bus into a neighborhood tire shop. You’ve seen these tire shops that have a few jacks and lots of used tires piled up inside and around a tiny cinder block building or tin shed.
While we waited, two men came by lugging 10-foot-long crosses to symbolize how Jesus Christ suffered as he carried his cross to his crucifixion. However, these crosses had wheels on the end to lessen the struggle. I laughed and took a photograph.
I can only imagine the tire repair storeowner’s thoughts when the bus rolled in. You can imagine my thoughts when I saw someone using regular car jack to try to raise the bus. Almost an hour later, the tire was still flat; attempts to plug the hole had failed.
A major tire company vehicle was called to the rescue. The guy whipped the bad tire off and put on the spare in less than 15 minutes. He said that you can’t plug a tire that big. Finally, we took off, but I was worried because we didn’t have a good spare tire. What if …
As I surveyed my fellow passengers, I could see that the average age of the passengers must have been around 60. It would have been higher had it not been for the couple who brought their 6-year-old grandson on his first football game bus trip.
Given the age of the riders, the conversations on the bus ride were typical stuff: football, politics and problems with hips, knees, sight, joints issues, various kinds of medicine being consumed and who had died.
(I was thinking about the lack of a spare tire.)
When we arrived at the tailgating spot near the stadium, we had a good time talking, eating and adding more conversations about hips, knees, etc.
Game over, we won — and then came the biggest reason I ride the bus. Sitting on a bus is so much easier than driving late at night. My only problem, though, is that I can’t sleep on a bus, so I’m usually awake for the duration.
(I was still thinking we didn’t have a spare tire.)
For some unknown reason, I fell asleep for about five to 10 minutes. It would have been longer, had it not been for a funny incident. I was seated on an aisle seat with my right leg stretched out into the aisle.
As I slept, I could feel something like a foot bumping against my leg. Well, being married for a bazillion years, that seemed familiar. But it woke me up because the foot belonged to the guy seated across the aisle who was snoring.
This was not good, but funny beyond words. I moved my leg.
A little while later, we were back at our starting point. As we departed the bus, I heard more complaints about swollen ankles and sore hips. I was just happy that we were “spared” another flat. Get it?
Edward Pratt, a former Advocate editor, is assistant to the chancellor for media relations at Southern University. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.