There have been many visitors to Ireland who have admitted to leaving their heart behind. When guest blogger Charles Berkoff visited, he didn’t misplace his heart, but he did misplace his glasses. Little did he know that leaving his specs on a Dublin bus would tell him all he needed to know about Irish hospitality…
I can’t blame Dublin for the poor judgment I showed 50 years ago. It just happened to be where and when my ex-wife and I spent our honeymoon. Right place. Wrong woman. Now it was time to share the city’s charms with my new wife. Right place. Right woman.
But, as wonderful as Dublin is to visit, if you’re going to spend much of your time on legs, be sure to take an umbrella. By our third day of drizzle we were ready for something drier. While a Martini came to mind, we opted for a bus tour of the city. The Dublin Bus Company offers an appealing Hop On-Hop Off service that stops at most of the city’s popular attractions. Their open-topped, double-decker buses were clearly not made for rainy days, but we happily found front row seats, which were under cover. Our driver provided an informative commentary, and even a traditional Irish song or two. I’d never heard ‘Molly Malone,’ sung with so much feeling. And seeing her statue on Grafton Street brought back to mind my abortive attempts to seduce another Molly back when I wore a taller man’s clothes. [Yes, shrinkage happens] [Sigh.]
Later, back in the hotel, I realized that I had lost my prescription reading glasses – alas, a frequent event for me – most likely they’d slipped out of my coat on the bus. Since my name, address, and telephone number were in the glasses case, they could at least be identified if anyone turned them in. I called the company the next day, our last in Dublin. But no glasses. They did tell me that there were plenty of glasses next door, but the pub needed them for their Guinness customers. I’ll send an email about the glasses when I’m back home, I thought. Meanwhile, we decided to check out that pub next door. In Dublin, that’s what one should be doing anyway – there’s nothing more fulfilling than a freshly pulled pint of Guinness.
The day after, back in Florida, we got a strange telephone call. Was the Dodge automobile still for sale? We had no Dodge – for sale or otherwise. Apparently, an ad for one in that morning’s paper had mistakenly given our number.
I tried to push the Dodge out of my mind, but it’s a heavy car, after all. Distraction came as I remembered I still needed to write my email to Dublin. But, at that moment, events assumed a distinctively surreal quality. A stranger walked up our driveway and rang the doorbell. Damn, I thought, that bloody car ad again! One of those Artful Dodgers must have done a ‘reverse phone lookup,’ and found our street address. Highly motor-vated, I guess.
I opened the door, hesitantly.
“Is it Dr Berkoff, then?” the young man asked in a soft, Irish brogue.
“Er … yes it is,” I replied, wondering why an Irishman was so determined to buy a Dodge.
“With the compliments of the Dublin Bus Company,” he said with an impish smile, holding out my glasses case. My total confusion must have been very apparent, and our visitor clearly savored the moment.
Tony Hession, a Dublin Bus driver, explained: he had just come off his shift and heard his inspector Kevin mention “another pair of glasses left behind by an American; lives in Florida.”
“Oh, where in Florida?” Patrick asked.
“Sarasota – wherever that is.”
“Sure, I’ll be there next weekend,” said Patrick, who, it turns out, has a holiday home in Sarasota that he and his family visit often.
We plan to meet them again on their next trip over; and I’ve been getting to know a lot more about the life of a Dublin bus driver.
Yes, we, too, wondered how Patrick could afford such a lifestyle. But then who knows what tourists leave behind on Dublin buses. In any event, the Dublin Bus Company’s spectacle service is, well, spectacular!
About the Author: Charles Berkoff was born a cockney in London, England, before being educated to respectability at Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine of the University of London (PhD, Chemistry). When they told him he should go far, he didn’t realize they wanted him to. In fact, they insisted. And so he left the UK for Baltimore and The Johns Hopkins University, where he first tasted American life as a Fulbright Research Fellow. He is currently President & CEO of CEBRAL, Inc., a Sarasota-based pharmaceutical/ biotechnology consulting group specializing in drug discovery and development.
Charles has published some 50 scientific papers in international journals, 20 patents, and two dozen or so off-beat articles; the latter, humorous writings on the worlds of science, technology, medicine, tennis, fairy tales, travel and Florida wildlife. After many years in Pennsylvania, Charles now lives in edenic Sarasota, Florida, with his wife, Heide, and his two embarrassed tennis racquets.