Field Work III:The Search For Brian

Yesterday, another field trip.  The aquarium in Camden, NJ.  Boo was kind of on the fence about this one.  Finally, we had him all set to go.  All the usual stuff in the morning, but I found out that I was going to be in charge of three other kids along with Brian.  Not a problem! (while underneath I was actually really nervous….)  So, we get in the cars and vans.  Drove my own car, and at first it was just me and Brian.   Cool so far.  We drive down the road, then across Bustleton Pike, all the vehicles start pulling over to the side of the road.  Turns out, one of the vans, a brand new one so fresh it still has the temporary tags on it, has broken down at the Wawa up the road.  I’m asked if I could take some people in the car.  No problem!  (Crap, now I really have to clean out the car!)  So, I go back, one of the vans behind me, we get people, then we get back on the road, we get to 95, and that’s when it hits me. 

I really have no idea at this point how to get to the aquarium. 

Now, with two kids not belonging to me and a 7 year old who parrots me at the MOST inopportune times, I mutter several alien curses I’ve picked up over the years.  Call Stace, tell her what’s happening, and ask her if she can Mapquest me to see where exactly I’m going.  All good.  We get across the Ben Franklin Bridge, Pennsylvania’s blue answer to the Golden Gate.  We see signs for the aquarium.  Brian’s Game Boy is bleeping and blooping around in the backseat.  All good.  We get into the parking lot.  No sign of ANYONE.  Just me and the other van.  No other vehicles.  The guy driving the van says to me, “Were we supposed to meet them somewhere, is there another parking lot?”  I don’t know.  So, we wait for maybe ten minutes, and we see the other vans starting to pull into the parking lot.  I STILL have no idea how we beat them there. 

So, it’s all good.  We’re all there, we get the little blue bands that show we’re all together around our wrists, we go inside.  I get the three other kids that Boo and I are in charge of.  No problem, I tell them to form up when we’re going to move, they all grab hands.  Brian, freakishly strong as he is, pulls and I swear the other kids’ feet left the floor.  So, we go through the pretty crowded place, look at fish, good times.  Then Brian starts on the whole “I want to go home” thing every other fish tank.  I told him, “Just relax, the fish are behind the glass, Bud, it’s all good.” 

Lunchtime!  We go down to the lunch room.  Stace, foreplanner that she is, gave me extra sandwhiches and yogurts in case somebody forgot their food.  Three kids said they didn’t have food, so I was again the hero.  Then after eating the peanut butter and jelly sandwich I gave him, on of the kid pulls out a Lunchable and eats some, then says he’s full.  The whole time I’m thinking I THOUGHT YOU DIDN’T HAVE ANY FOOD!!  Oh, well.  Whatever. 

So, we start going through the aquarium again.  All good.  They have a tank where you can pet a shark.  You know, because Jaws was really about a friendly furry fish with a toothache.  Brian wants no part of it, the other three did, so we hung out there for a while.  Then, we saw penguins and seals outside.  We go inside, I see the sign for the hippo.  We go in, through the doors(remember the doors, they’re important later.)  There are exotic birds flying around the room.  There are signs on the walls to be careful around the birds, and I quote, “They poop every 15 minutes.  How often do YOU poop?”  Bit of a personal question, that.  So, between bird poop, lots of water with a couple hippos in it, not the best chamber ever for the olfactory senses.  So, we look around, there you go.  There’s a bird perch, with one of the signs underneath it.  As though on command, a toucan lets fly with ex-food.  The oldest kid I have in my charge watches this, sees it hit the rail, then puts his hand on the rail.  Amazingly, he ended up with bird crap on his hand!  STUNNING!  So, he shows me his hand, “I got…something on my hand!”


But, ever-polite, I say, “All right, come on, we’ll go get you cleaned up.”  Now, all day, I’d been telling them to form up, grab hands, but in THIS case, I thought better of it.  So, I just tell them all to come on, we have to go get cleaned up, all the while thinking, “Why would you put your hand where a bird just left evidence of bird?” We get up to the ramp–

To the doors.  Remember the doors?  So, we go through, Brian at the tail of our little party.  Now, coming down the ramp, several mothers with strollers, baby carriages, aincient grandparents being carried by pygmies on litters, you get the picture.  So, the three that AREN’T related me are coming up the ramp, I’m looking for somewhere to wash hands, after a minute or so, I realize, to my growing horror—


“Guys, where’s Brian?”
“I don’t know, he was just behind us.” 

I try to stay calm.  I try not to let the other kids know, one of whom is still complaining his hand is dirty, that my thought process is OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODBRIANWHEREAREYOUBUDWHERETHEHELLAREYOUOHMYGODHE’SBEENEATENBYASHARKHE’SBEENKIDNAPPEDHE’SGONESTACEISGONNAKILLMEBUDWHEREAREYOUWHEREAREYOUBUDCOMEONMANDON’TDOTHISBUDWHEREAREYOU…and on from there.  I see Emily, she tells me we’re going to leave soon, “Great, I can’t find Brian!!”  She takes my other charges, I go tearing through the place, looking for the kid.  I THINK after what seemed a time where I was moving at maximum warp through frozen molasses that I heard distantly someone shout “BRIAN!”  I’m looking all around, I see not his blond head, not his blue t-shirt, not his red shorts.  God knows how long it actually was, but then my phone rings, Emily has him, some woman brought him down to the security desk.  He saw all the people coming down with the baby stuff, he decided to hold the door for all of them.  I’ve taught him to be polite, thoughtful, considerate, he did all that but he SCARED THE LIVING CRAP OUT OF BOTH OF US and I clutched him at my side for the next forty minutes.  OY!

So, we’re all outside, and then someone realizes that we’re in Jersey.  The state you have to pay to get out of.  So, Emily asks me, I say it’ll take 3 bucks per car.  So, I’d anticipated this, gotten six bucks out since I also had to go into Jersey for a workshop last night.  Emily gives me three bucks, we get in the cars, grand caravan leaving the parking lot.

That cost 9 bucks to get out of.  I ONLY HAD 9 BUCKS!!  I look Heavenward and ask silently after the attendant says the car in the lead only paid for four cars, I’m number five, and say to God, “Are you freakin’ kidding me?  Seriously, man, come ON!”  So, I give the three bucks I had for the bridge and the six bucks out of my wallet.  So now I can’t get over the bridge.  More alien cursing. 

Now, the Jersey Adventure Aquarium is in Camden.  Since some of my readers might be somewhat unfamiliar with Jersey, let me describe Camden in a Kenobi-like fashion.  It has the reputation as being a wretched hive of scum and villainy.  Looking around as I drove through, it appeared to be well earned.  However, I knew, from having once been lost in Camden, that it’s very close to Haddonfield, Cherry Hill, a bunch of other places.  So, I’m driving down the road, I find Haddon Road, this is good!  Now, the kids had seen several places that had ATM signs in the windows.  However, there was nowhere to park anywhere close to any of them.  I knew there was a Wawa, with an ATM, on Haddon Road.  So, I’m driving down, FINALLY, half and hour later, I find it, we park in front, I drag the kids(all of whom wanted sodas and snacks and other stuff) inside, get the 10 bucks out, and then, back in the car, I wonder.  I can go forward, go to the Betsy Ross Bridge, OR I can swing around and go back to either the Ben Franklin or the Walt Whitman.  After a minute, I decided to go to the Ben Franklin.  So, I get there, we eventually get accross, and right after I get a call from the camp, “Where are you, are you all right?”  So, we got back to camp.  That’s when I found out that Brian getting lost wasn’t even the biggest thing that happened.  One of the girls fell into the pet a shark tank. 

Many more days like that I’m gonna start drinking.


~ by Sean on July 31, 2008.

One Response to “Field Work III:The Search For Brian”

  1. And you’ve all dared to laugh when I:

    1- Said that we were buying leashes for Ian the second he even seemed ready to begin thinking about possibly considering walking.

    2- Said that I’ll never get near New Jersey.

    3- Said that you never, eeeeeeeever leave home without your Adam West approved Batman Shark Repellent (as seen in the classic Batman Movie now available on Blu-Ray.)

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