Stalking the trolley

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 3, 2006

I was the only newsperson in the office around noon Friday when someone called to tell me Suffolk’s new lunchtime trolley was making it’s debut and was parked in front of the courthouse.

Figuring it was the local paper’s job to record this momentous event for posterity, I got my camera and hoofed it over the courthouse, but there was no trolley. I walked up and down the street and then figured I’d park myself on one of the benches and await its return.

When it didn’t show up for about 10 minutes I walked back to the paper and got my car. I fought the lunchtime traffic and made it to the Hilton, but didn’t see it. I then headed back south on Main Street. I passed it going the opposite direction just south of the train station. I wheeled around and headed back after it.

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I caught up with it at the Hilton where it was parked at the front door. I got out and snapped off a few shots. Peter Yeung, the manager of the Hilton, got on it for a ride. I then followed it west on Constance Road to the shopping center where Hardees, Family Dollar and Pizza Hut are. It pulled in to the lot and made a circle, but seeing nobody waiting to get on or waving it down, it didn’t stop.

I then followed it east on Washington Street. It made a left onto either Market or Wellons (toward City Hall). The driver looked like he wanted to stop at city hall but there were no parking places. He hesitated momentarily and then headed on toward Main. He made a right onto N. Main and appeared to want to stop in the vicinity of the courthouse, but again there were no spaces.

Now I could swear that I saw only one person on the trolley this entire route … but I know better.

You see, about

a year ago, when the TGIF Concert Series kicked off at Constance Wharf Park and Marina, I discovered I have a condition.

I went to that opening night event n again to take photos —

and I took a head count. I counted about 36 people there listening to the music. I wrote a column about the poor attendance.

I immediately came under assault from all sorts of people who called me a liar,

other names not quite as nice and even questioned whether my parents were married. I was even the subject of an internal e-mail from an assistant city manager n forwarded to my by a source n who claimed there were in excess of 500 people at the event and went on to make some sarcastic, disparaging remarks about me.

Naturally, I was concerned. Could I have been that wrong, counting only 36 people when there were more than 500 there?

I did some research on the Internet and found that I apparently suffer from a dyslexia-like condition called subestimatiosis. Subestimatiosiacs like me see only about 1/15 of what normal people see. There is no known cure for subestimatiosis, though with the help of medications most subestimatiosiacs can lead essentially normal lives, though they should be discouraged from pursuing careers in accounting.

So, even though I tailgated the trolley for about 15 minutes and saw only one person riding, I know there were really about 15 people on it.

I’d say that’s an overwhelming success and I congratulate city officials on their acumen for filling what was such an obvious void in our downtown transportation infrastructure. Though it would probably be a good idea to provide it a place to park so people can get on it.