Friday 7th November. Toledo, Ohio -> Indianapolis, Indiana, United States.
I got away from Toledo on Wednesday. The bus to Indianapolis left at half past three, so I worked till two o'clock, and had time to change and grab a snack. My workmate at the car dealership gave me a ride to the Greyhound station, and David and Jeanne were expecting me six hours later in Indianapolis. I've decided to take a week off from hitchhiking for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I'm still recovering from the chill I got the night I slept under the bridge. The last thing I need is to be out in the cold air, and after the record warm weather we'd been enjoying until Tuesday, the temperatures have plumetted. It's well below freezing at night, and only in the forties duing the day. The second reason is that I have several work offers over the coming weeks, and it doesn't make sense to spend a whole day standing by the road, when I could be working. So they're my reasons and I'm sticking to 'em.
Here's a crackup! When the bus stopped at Muncie, Indiana, I noticed a State Trooper's vehicle at the bus station. Two troopers strode across the parking bay as we slowed. Before the driver even had a chance to bring the coach to a complete stop, they were signalling for him to open the door. They boarded the bus and stormed up the aisle, each one carrying an A4 size sheet of paper, presumably a photo of whoever they were looking for. Well, they ignored everyone else on the bus and zoomed straight in on me, both of them.
"Do you have some ID, sir?"
"Um, yeah" and I fished out my passport from my bag. They scrutinized my passport and flicked their eyes back and forth from me to their photo. All I could think was that this was some sort of extravagant practical joke that Joe and Jim from Toledo had set up. It was almost unbelievable, but there was no other explanation.
"Do you have any other ID, sir?"
I soon figured it wasn't a joke, especially by the way they flinched when I reached behind me to grab my wallet. If I'd moved any faster, I might've had a real close up view of two pistol barrels. I was a bit annoyed, not to mention embarassed, so I asked them what it was all about and suggested that a passport should be sufficient identification. They were unmoved, and repeated their request for further identification. I showed them my drivers licence. The troopers looked at each other. Confused and disappointed, they cast a cursory glance at the rest of the passengers towards the rear of the coach, and promptly left.
When we were allowed off the coach to stretch our legs, one of the troopers came up to me smiling and showed me the piece of paper he'd been carrying.
"Sorry about that, but you were the only one on the bus that resembled the guy we're looking for!" I feigned offence, and told him I was far better looking than the crim in the photo. I tell you what though, I don't blame them for thinking it was me. The guy in the photo looked like me with a tequila hangover!
The Greyhound was on time, and I phoned David and Jeanne from the station. As much as I'd hoped to catch some sleep on the trip, it just didn't happen, even though I had two seats to myself. With the ride-along the night before, I'd only caught three or four hours' sleep. I was ready to lie down and sleep. David picked me up about fifteen minutes later, with a cold Newcastle Brown Ale for me. As we drove, I saw some sort of big factory in the distance. I asked David what that was, and he simly said "That's Lilly". Um, what's Lilly?
Lilly is the ninth largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, and on the move according to David. I'd never heard of them, but Lilly was the name behind the wonder drug Prozac. In fact it was Lilly that developed insulin about eighty years ago. David is a project manager working in endocrine research. Jeanne is a Senior Administrative Assistant for the same company, but works in a different building. Lilly is so big here that it has buildings and offices all over town. Jeanne is early to bed, early to rise. David stays up late and gets in to work by about nine. Their eldest daughter Megan lives in Texas, but their other daughter Hillary lives at home. She's seventeen and heavily pregnant. Her boyfriend is also seventeen. I asked David how he felt when he found out his daughter was pregnant at such a young age. He was the last to know about it, he said. Everyone kept it from him, thinking he'd hit the roof. When they did tell him, he surprised them all with his reaction. Even Jeanne says that his attitude was more like "Okay, where do we go from here? Let's see if she can do her school equivalency test and accelerate herself out of high school into junior college."
David had an air mattress inflated for me to sleep on in the loungeroom, and I slept like a baby. Even though it was below freezing outside, the house was a toasty seventy-two degrees. There were a few days' work ahead of me here- David and Jeanne wanted most of the interior of their house repainted, so that would be some handy pocket money for me. The smell of bacon woke me at about eight-thirty, and David said that after breakfast we'd take a soak in the hot tub, then do some work. Sounds like a nice relaxed pace!
The outdoor hot tub was sensational, especially on such a cold, clear morning. We got the ceilings painted that day, with a break for some Chinese takeaway at lunchtime. This morning, David had to go into work for a few hours. I started on the walls by myself, but someone at the paint shop had screwed up, and the wall paint was exactly the same colour as the ceiling paint. Jeanne promptly returned the paint and had it retinted, and by the end of the afternoon the bulk of the work was done. The avocado coloured walls and pale green ceilings certainly make a world of difference from the previous white and off-white colour scheme.
David took me to an NBA basketball game this evening. His favourite team, the Indanapolis Pacers, were up against their rivals the Cleveland Cavaliers. I'd never been to a basketball game before, and David reckoned Indianapolis was the place to see my first game. It's the home of basketball, so he says. The atmosphere itself was an experience. We armed ourselves with a couple of beers and found our seats. A couple of minutes before playtime, the stadium was still only half full, but then people just streamed in and by the time the national anthem had been sung, the place was almost filled to capacity. The two teams were evenly matched, with the score seesaw'ing from the start. Most of the way, the Pacers had a few points on the Cavaliers, but near the end of the fourth quarter, Cleveland gained the lead. With 5.6 seconds on the clock, Indianapolis was one point behind. They scored in the final couple of seconds and won the game 91 to 90. Now if that's not a great game for my first basketball game ever, I don't know what is.