Chairman Bao is a Shih Tzu. We travel a lot. I drive. He watches. We've logged at least 10,000 miles and he's never once said, Sweetheart, don't you think you should stop and ask someone?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Bao won’t sit on just anyone’s lap. But he made an exception for John.
John is incredible. John is fantastic. John is the best. John has been driving a sightseeing trolley around Boston for the 15 years, and what he doesn’t know about Boston probably isn’t worth knowing.
Did you realize, for example, that nearly three quarters of present-day Boston was originally under water? Or that the Battle of Bunker Hill wasn’t fought on Bunker Hill? Or about the Great Molasses Disaster of 1919? (A silo filled with molasses burst in the heat, killing 21 men and 9 horses. I always feel sorry for the animals)
My favourite story was about Bostonian James Michael Curley, who took a civil service examination for someone else, got caught and went to jail. Popular sentiment was on Curley’s side, however. People thought he’d done a good deed. So while he was still in jail, he decided to capitalize upon his popularity and run for Alderman. And he won. Boston politics, says John.
John sings, too. His rendition of Charlie and the MTA brought down the house. Kingston Trio, eat your hearts out.
For two hours, the unflappable, unstoppable John regaled us with anecdotes, songs, jokes and stories.
It was hard to stay angry.
The reason we were angry was that we’d just found out that all of Discover Boston’s trolleys would stop running at 2 PM, because they were catering a wedding. Ride all day, promised the ads. Get on and off as often as you like. But it wasn’t all day. It was only half a day. Trouble was, they didn’t tell you about this little detail until after you’d bought and paid for your non-refundable $27 ticket. People were understandably pissed off.
And it got worse. Turned out that only four Discover Boston trolleys were in service, which meant that there was at least a half hour between trolleys. Ticket-holding tourists were piling up at the stops, lost and bewildered and perspiring in the blazing sun. As the clock inched closer to 2 PM, our trolley filled up. Everybody wanted to get on, and of course, nobody dared to risk getting off.
John did his best. He kept stopping for people, even when all the seats were filled. It was like being in a lifeboat with wheels. There were people standing in the aisles. There were people sitting on the steps. And finally – when John couldn’t squeeze anyone else in – there were people left behind, discovering Boston on foot.
Four companies operate these trolley tours, and they’re a wonderful way to get an overview of the city. I wouldn’t recommend driving, at least not until they finish the massive roadwork project they call the Big Dig. And I certainly wouldn’t recommend Discover Boston.
But hey! John was terrific.


Blogger skynanny said...

Wow, I'm continuing to enjoy reading about your travels. Having never been to Boston or to any of the New England States,I am seeig them through your writings and am learning lots also. The photos are great, Bao is a real star, being as you say the most photograped dog around. I have started my own blog at

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