JERK OF THE WEEK: Tubing Down the Delaware: A Near-Death Experience
"Want to come tubing down the Delaware on Saturday for my sister's birthday?"
"Come on, it'll be fun!"
"No, it won't. It'll be terrible!"
"Don't be such a curmudgeon! We'll have a blast! Please go?"
"I'm not a curmudgeon, in fact I'm being quite pleasant right now, but there's no way in hell I'm going to die in the Delaware River!"
This was a conversation I had with my girlfriend, and in case you couldn't tell, I was the second person. Call me crazy, but riding a tube down a river didn't seem like the brightest idea. Rivers are dangerous, after all. Right after this exchange, I imagined the local TV news broadcast breaking this story after the eight or so homicides we have in Philly every day...
In other news, a football Web site owner died today in the Delaware River. He was reportedly there for his girlfriend's sister's birthday, but he died when the rapids made him collide with a huge boulder. This man was an idiot for tubing down the Delaware River. He was also fat.
Then, I imagined seeing a similar story on the news myself about someone else. I pictured myself chuckling, "What an idiot. Who the hell goes tubing down a river? That would never happen to me because I don't do anything stupid like that!"
Call me a wuss all you want, but I'm a survivalist. I'm also a bit of a germ-freak, and the sanitary issues happened to be another reason why I didn't want to do this. The Delaware River is infamous for its pollution. Fish can barely survive in that water, thanks to all the toxic waste various companies dump into the river. Even if I somehow survived, my swim trunks would no doubt disintegrate as they touched the water, and by the time I'd be done tubing, I'd be completely naked, and everyone would be able to see my no-no special place.
Despite all of this, I ended up going.
My girlfriend continued to ask me, and she said it would make her happy if I went with her. She also told me that everyone would be there, and that it was completely safe.
"I've done it before," she said. "It's not a big deal."
I had my doubts, but it actually ended up being not too bad. Tubing was kind of pleasant, and I managed to collect tons of Jerks of the Week material there, so let's get right to it.
The Drive to Delaware River:
The first thing I need to mention is that my girlfriend got me up at 7 a.m. That may not seem like a big deal to some of you, but keep in mind that I A) usually wake up around 11-12, and B) went to bed at 4 in the morning that night. Everyone was gathering there at 10:30, so I figured we could get up at 9, since an hour-and-a-half was plenty. Apparently not.
Girlfriend: Come on, get up!
Girlfriend: We have to get breakfast and then drive to my parents' house to meet everyone, and then we'll be on our way!
Girlfriend: I'll buy you breakfast!
Girlfriend: Come on, Walt! Let me know where you want to go for breakfast, and it'll be my treat!
Me: Unnhhh... McDonald's... unnhhh...
I don't know how I managed to crawl out of bed - I honestly can't remember how that happened - but I did. I put on my swim trunks and flopped into my girlfriend's car as we ventured to McDonald's. I was barely awake, but I knew that I could go for some McDonald's. I'm not a fan of McDonald's' normal food, but their breakfast is the bomb.com. I ordered two Egg McMuffins and a hash brown, and when my girlfriend told me that it might be a while until we ate again, I got back into the line for a third Egg McMuffin. The news reporter who was going to call me fat would be very accurate.
Our plans to head up to my girlfriend's parents' house, which is about 45 minutes away, were nixed because everyone else was heading out early. So, we just went straight over to the Delaware River.
I had never been in this area before, so let me tell you, it was a pretty strange place. Some of the houses looked nice, prompting my girlfriend to suggest that we should move out there.
"I don't want to live in the middle of nowhere, though," I said, looking at a very strange sign. It said two words I thought I'd never see together:
Me: Deer corn!? What the hell is that!?
Girlfriend: It's a thing, Walt.
Me: Deer corn!? Hahahahahaha!!! Of course we'd see a sign like that out here!
Girlfriend: Sometimes you can be so pretentious, Walt.
Me: Buhahahahaha deer corn buhahahahaha!!
It's been a few weeks, and yet I'm still laughing at that sign.
We finally reached this place. Unfortunately, it took us 20 minutes just to park our car. The line to get into the parking lot was shockingly long. I didn't think something like this would be that popular, yet there were thousands of people at this place. All types of people - kids, adults, old people, hot chicks in bikinis - every single type of human was represented here. There was even a guy dressed like Hulk Hogan, who apparently ran the place. He spent his time either shouting at his employees or leering at the hot chicks in bikinis. I almost asked him if he wanted to trade his establishment for my Web site.
We eventually were able to pay the parking people. My girlfriend chatted with the attendant as we were waiting to move.
Girlfriend: Wow, are you guys normally this busy?
Parking Lot Attendant: Not normally, but it's a really nice day, so we're having a great turnout.
Girlfriend: What happens when you guys fill up the parking lot?
Parking Lot Attendant: We borrow the neighbors' lawns once we run out of space here, but when that's used up, we have to close the gates.
Once we pulled up, I shouted, "Close the gate! Close the gate! Close the gate!"
My girlfriend shot me a dirty look, but I would've been thrilled if they locked everyone else out; that way, we could go back to bed.
There were a**holes in the parking lot besides myself. For instance, one fat Mexican kid was whining and crying as we pulled into our parking spot.
I was in a rotten mood because I was running on just three hours of sleep, so I shouted, "Your dad's gone, bro!"
My girlfriend snapped, "You're such an a**!" But I didn't care. I put the kid in his place.
Other people who annoyed me in the parking lot included 50-year-old douches who blared music as loudly as they could. Seriously, they just put their car stereos on full volume, gathered next to each other while being shirtless, and acted all cool because they were listening to obnoxiously loud music while drinking Miller High Life. Nice job, guys. You're the epitome of awesome.
Meanwhile, this middle-aged woman was trying desperately to gather her family together.
"Family photo, guys! We need to get a family photo! Come on, come together, we need to take a family photo!"
I want to shout back, "Shut the f*** up, lady, no one wants to be in your family photo!" but she did manage to get her family into one area. Thank God. What would happen if she didn't get to snap a precious family photo of their awesome trip to the Delaware River?
Yeah, I think I'm still in a rotten mood.
We met up with everyone and went into the line. Mostly everyone greeted me warmly, but all I could muster in response was a "bleh." I was still extremely exhausted, and on top of that, I was thirsty from all of the sodium in the Egg McMuffins. I didn't feel like talking to anyone.
I was eventually handed a waiver and asked to sign it so no one could sue this establishment in the event that I suffered a nasty injury or died. All of the assurances my girlfriend gave me about this place being safe completely disappeared. I suddenly had a sinking feeling that this was my last living day on this planet. I'd surely hit my head on a rock, get caught by underwater vines and drown, or die from the bite of a poisonous river snake. And the worst part was that I wouldn't be able to defend myself when that a**hole news anchor who would call me fat.
Unfortunately, I knew there was no getting out of this, so I signed the waiver. My girlfriend's sister's husband Rob then asked us how long we'd want to go tubing for, since that affected the price. I thought an hour would be sufficient, but I was shocked by the options:
"OK, we can go for either three hours, four hours, or five hours."
THREE HOURS, FOUR HOURS OR FIVE HOURS!?!?!? Are these f***ing people insane!? Who the hell wants to spend that long on an inner tube? One of my favorite pastimes is whacking off to lesbian porn, and I don't even like spending three hours, four hours or five hours doing that.
The worst part was that we'd have to spend 3-5 hours on this inner tube without food or drinks, with the latter being especially problematic for me, given how thirsty I was. And then it hit me - what about going to the bathroom? Seriously, what if I had to drop a deuce during the second hour of this voyage? Would I have to hold it in, or diarrhea all over the Delaware River? And I'm sure I'd have to pee at numerous points, like most others. There's no bathroom on the Delaware River, so that would mean that every single person in line would be urinating in the Delaware River at some point. No wonder the river is so polluted!
"OK, let's take a vote on how long we're going to go," Rob said, snapping me out of my negative thought process. "Raise your hand if you want to go for three hours."
I quickly shot up my arm, and I realized that I was the only one doing so. My girlfriend, noticing this, begrudgingly raised her hand as well.
"Of course Walt was the first person to raise his hand," Rob said in a disappointed tone. What the hell is that supposed to mean? Why did it warrant an "of course" that I would choose the shortest option? I'm not that negative of a person, am I?
Everyone else but Rob and this guy Justin voted for five hours, so Rob decided that according to "democracy" - I didn't realize a death trip down the Delaware River justified any sort of democracy - we'd go with the 4-hour option.
Great. That would give me four hours to crack my head, drown, get poisoned, crap myself, and urinate all over the place. What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
After about a 30-minute wait, we were given our wristbands and told to grab an inner tube. No problem, right? Ha! To do this, we had to go into another line - and this one was much longer. The Hulk Hogan guy from earlier was at the back of the line and told us that we should expect an hour-and-a-half wait.
Yeah. An hour and a half. Just so we could all die and go to the bathroom in our swim suits.
The scorching sun made this all unbearable. I was so dehydrated that I went through two bottles of water while waiting. We had just one more left by the time we reached a canopy next to where the buses took everyone to the top. Unfortunately, the line slowed to a crawl at this point. We thought we'd get on soon, but it was yet another half hour. Some kid standing behind us, who was eating a sandwich earlier, complained to his mom.
Kid: MOMMY I'M HUNGRY!
Mother: NO! You just ate! No more food for you!
OK there, Soup Nazi. Why not just tell your son to come back in one year?
Minutes later, the kid whined, "WHEN'S THE LINE GONNA MOVE, MOMMY!?!?" I wanted to reply, "Never, kid. Never." But despite all of the water I consumed, I was too thirsty at that point to reply. Besides, breaking the spirit of one kid was enough for one afternoon.
Tubing the Delaware:
Our bus finally arrived. It was now 1 p.m., which was ridiculous considering that we got into the second line at 11:30. Despite leering at the hot chicks in bikinis, Hulk Hogan Man was right on the money.
We crammed onto the bus, and I was sandwiched in between Rob and Justin. "I hope you're not claustrophobic," Justin said. I laughed and shook my head, but I was suddenly having trouble breathing. I had no idea I was claustrophobic - until now. I imagined the news report...
In other news, a football Web site owner died today in the Delaware River. Or, rather, he died on the bus to the Delaware River. His cause of death was lack of oxygen from claustrophobia. This man was an idiot for taking a bus in order to tube down the Delaware River. He was also fat.
We mercifully reached the top about 10 minutes later. I thanked the heavens that I'd finally be able to get off this God-forsaken bus and basically pushed people out of my way so I could step outside and breathe the fresh air.
We walked down to the river bank and hopped onto our tubes. The water was chilly at first, but I got used to it after a minute or two. My girlfriend and I took off first, but quickly realized that there was a fork in the river; an island was located in the middle, so we had the option of going either left or right. There were no signs, so we had no clue which direction we should choose.
"Hey guys, which way should we go!?" my girlfriend called out, but we were so far ahead that they couldn't hear us. We tried about thrice more, but they didn't respond. Minutes later, they noticed the fork as well.
"We need to go left!" Rob shouted at us. But it was too late. The current was taking us to the right, and there was nothing we could do about it. We paddled as hard as we could, but the current overtook us. Soon enough, we were completely past the island on the right side. This prompted the following exchange...
Rob: GUYS, WHERE ARE YOU GOING!? WE NEED TO GO LEFT!
Girlfriend: WE CAN'T! WE'RE STUCK IN THE CURRENT! COME RIGHT WITH US!
Rob: WHAT!? WE NEED TO GO LEFT!
Girlfriend: WE CAN'T! COME RIGHT!
Rob: NO! GO LEFT!
Girlfriend: ROB, WE CAN'T! JUST GO RIGHT WITH US!
Rob: NO! SORRY! GOTTA GO LEFT!
And just like that, everyone else drifted toward the left, and we were all alone.
I still can't believe this happened. Even if they thought that going left was the correct direction, why would they leave us? They easily could have gone right and joined us, but because Emperor Rob declared that they had to go left, they abandoned us.
The right side was quiet. We thought the island would end, and that we'd meet up with everyone, but the island just grew larger. We had no idea where we were going, or if we would be stranded forever and ultimately eaten by a nest of river snakes. As we were drifting, we made sure to conserve water; we had a quarter of a bottle remaining, so I had no idea how we were going to last for another three-plus hours.
"Look, a sign!" my girlfriend announced, just as I was wondering what my funeral would be like. I turned around and saw that the sign had an arrow pointing left. Underneath it were three of the best words I've ever seen in my entire life:
HOT DOG MAN
Wait... wait... wait... THERE IS SOMEONE SELLING HOT DOGS ON THE DELAWARE RIVER!?!?!?! YES!!!!!!!!!!! BEST DAY EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We continued to follow the arrows and eventually saw that there was a large crowd. They were gathered around this boat, and a fat man standing in the river continuously shouted the following:
"GET YOUR HOT DOGS HERE, AT HOT DOG MAN! TWO HOURS UNTIL THE END OF THE DELAWARE RIVER, AND THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE TO GRAB FOOD AND DRINKS! GET YOUR HOT DOGS HERE, AT HOT DOG MAN!"
We wasted no time dismounting from our tubes. I wasn't even that hungry - I had three Egg McMuffins, after all - but I still wanted a hot dog.
"I have to try Hot Dog Man's hot dogs!" I shouted at my girlfriend, who looked surprised because this was completely unprompted.
Hot Dog Man was expensive - a hot dog and two bottles of water turned out to be $13 - but I didn't care. The hot dog was delicious, and the water was refreshing. We looked around for the others as we were eating, but couldn't spot them. We finished up and hopped back on our tubes. Surely enough, two hours later, we made it to the end.
Once we made it back to my girlfriend's car, she called her sister, who carried her phone in a waterproof bag. My girlfriend asked if they had reached the end already, and she had a shocked expression on her face once she heard the answer. I couldn't believe me ears when she said it...
"YOU'RE ONLY AT THE HOT DOG MAN!?"
Wow. We beat them by two whole hours. Looks like we went the right away after all. So much for needing to go left!
You know, I actually didn't have a bad time tubing down the Delaware. The line was horrible, but the ride itself was pleasant. In fact, I may do it again.
And if you hear that a fat football Web site owner died on the news, you'll know why.