It was a hot day in Charleston, it was a Tuesday, and it was a good day.. right up to the point that it wasn’t.
My Southern bell wannabe girlfriend and I were on our second day of vacation. We were staying in downtown Charleston at the Francis Marion hotel and we were loving it. We had gotten up early to get in a full day’s worth of sightseeing. Our first stop that morning was a tour of the Drayton Hall plantation. A Georgian Palladian plantation house that was completed in 1742. Beyond its beauty and its history I still find it incredible that in close to 300 years not a single effort was made by any of the seven generations of Drayton’s who inhabited the mansion to add electricity or plumbing. Just keep thinking about that.
After we left Drayton Hall our next stop was to be Patriot’s Point Naval and Maritime Museum which is located directly to the East of Charleston, across the river, and across the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. It’s an interesting place with the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, and the destroyer USS Lafey, moored there and open to the public. We had seen the ships in the distance the day before from our ferry as we took a tour of Fort Sumter on Memorial Day. Fort Sumter is in the middle of Charleston Harbor and I would say it’s a must do if you’re ever visiting the area. But back to the trip, we had just left Drayton Hall.. so being addicted to technology we simply punched Patriot’s Point in our GPS and started driving to wherever we were told. What could go wrong?
Which in hindsight reminds me: “Screws fall out all the time, the world is an imperfect place.”
After a few minutes of following those GPS directions and wondering why in the world it had us going the way it did and how could 15 miles take over an hour.. we did what any rational adults would do, we turned the GPS off. Problem solved.
Those brief moments of carefree driving lasted until we noticed a Highway Patrol car blocking the on ramp to the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. The bridge was closed in both directions.. and that’s when this good day wasn’t so good anymore. Lacking any better plan to get across the river and continue our sightseeing we headed back to downtown Charleston and the river’s edge to catch the Water Taxi that runs from the East side of the Charleston peninsula across the river to Patriot’s Point.
Of course we weren’t the only ones to have this idea. There was quite a crowd waiting to catch the Water Taxi as the bridge closure had left few good options to get across the river. As the Water Taxi emptied on its return trip from Patriot’s Point the captain came up and announced he only had room for 10 passengers. The waiting crowd numbered into the 20’s. That’s when I noticed a well dressed polite man asking out loud if anyone would mind if he was one of those 10. He explained he had a meeting with Ben Carson in a few minutes and he was afraid he might miss the meeting if he couldn’t get across the river soon. Of course hearing this I had to ask if he was meeting with “THE Dr. Ben Carson”. To which he politely replied “yes”. Though not quite sure where I had seen his face before at least then I knew he had to be somebody.
No one in the crowd objected to the man taking a spot to leave immideately, and with more gratitude than I’ve seen publicly expressed in my life, the well dressed man boarded the Water Taxi.
As luck would have it within minutes of that Water Taxi leaving another arrived. The remainder of the crowd boarded and we were all off to Patriot’s Point. Ultimately the two taxis arrived at the dock at almost the same time.
There was some talk about the well dressed man on the ferry ride over, and after hearing his name I expressed my regret that I did not place his face earlier. I also expressed a little frustration that he would not follow me back on Twitter. Because as any Twitter addict will tell you, there are only two types of people, those who will and those who will not follow you back. #duh
After later becomming stranded at Patriot’s Point, as the Water Taxi company was totally swamped with passingers, I realized the only saving grace to this day, and it was a day that by the end needed saving (just think heat, lines, hours of waiting with the feeling of being helplessly stranded on an island and missing your dinner reservations all because a half billion dollar modern marvel of a bridge was closed due to some buffoon overturning a semi full of toxic chemicals) was that someone of this man’s importance and position was stuck in the same heat, the same lines, and had to deal with the same nonsense we did to get to where he needed to go. Yes, what I’m saying is misery does indeed love company.
But to wrap this up, and to get to the strange part, when that well dressed man got off the Water Taxi… he took off running! And lets face it, you dont see adults dressed in business attire run all that often. At least not since they canceled the original Hawaii Five-O.
But again, somehow seeing something so simple reminded me that sometimes even “important” people fall victim to time and chance. But on the bright side, despite all that well dressed man has gone through in the last few years, and the fact that he had to be a hot sweaty mess by the time he found Dr. Ben Carson, at least I’m sure his house has electricity and plumbing.
P.S. That well dressed man mentioned above, and seen in the blue shirt running in the video below, is the former Governor of South Carolina and the current U.S. Representative for South Carolina’s 1st congressional district, Mark Sanford.
And that was the strangest thing I saw in Charleston.