|The Case of the Missing Spectacles
Dublin Bus Mystery
2018 by Charles Berkoff
was meant to be an uncomplicated city bus tour covering a few square
miles for an hour or two. It reached its surprising conclusion four
thousand miles away.
can't blame Dublin for the poor judgement I showed nearly fifty 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. So far,
anyway…but who knows?
wonderful as Dublin is to visit, if you're going to spend much of
your time in the city using leg power, as we like to do, be sure to
take an umbrella. In fact, take two; you might just wear one out and
need another. By our third day of walking in a steady drizzle we were
ready for something else. Something dry. Anything dry. A
Martini came to mind but, responsible tourists that we were, we
instead opted for a bus tour of the city.
Dublin Bus Company, which, of course, every American knows is a
subsidiary of Córas
offers a very appealing Hop On-Hop Off service that stops at most of
Dublin's popular attractions. And while we could hop on and hop off,
we could also hop in—to any number of inviting pubs. Surely
they're among Dublin's most popular attractions anyway. All 752 of
them! One in particular, The Brazen Head, located alongside the
Liffey River, dates back to 1198. Perfect for a pint and a meal. As
the oldest pub in Ireland, you might wonder what tales its walls
could tell. Then again, if you're listening to walls, you've probably
had too many pints. It happens.
now, dammit, I’ve lost my train of thought. Well, my bus of
thought, anyway. As I was about to say, their open-topped,
double-decker buses were clearly not made for rainy days, even though
they were the only days they seemingly had. But, if we just had to
be upstairs, and we did, there was a solution. The front few rows of
the upper deck were under cover. Those seats would not only give our
brolly a chance to rest and recuperate, but would also indulge me in
a little childhood nostalgia. I grew up in London, where a front seat
on the upper deck of a London double-decker was an essential part of
every kid’s travel plan.
a top o’ the mornin’ to yer," our driver, Liam,
declared over the speaker system. And thanks to him, it was.
Delivering an informative commentary, he even entertained us with a
traditional Irish song or two. I'd never heard "Molly Malone"
sung with so much feeling. And her busty statue on Grafton Street
brought back to mind my abortive attempts to seduce another Molly
back when I wore a taller man's clothes.
shrinkage happens—in more ways than I care to admit. Sigh.
that evening, back in the hotel, I realized that I’d mislaid my
prescription reading glasses—alas a frequent event for me. I
was reasonably sure that they'd slipped out of my coat pocket on the
bus. Since I had my name, address, and telephone number in the
glasses case, I thought that the bus company would at least be able
to identify them—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 customers. Cheeky sod! I tried
the bus company
again that afternoon. Still nothing.
send them an e-mail when I'm back home, I
knows, perhaps they'd turn up later.
we decided to check out that pub next door. In Dublin, that's what
one should be doing anyway, and surely there's nothing more
full-filling in Dublin’s fair city than a freshly drawn pint of
Guinness. And speaking of Guinness, and I know I often do, that
reminds of an experience I had in Dublin many years earlier. I'd met
an old business friend in a pub we both knew well, Grogans, on South
William Street; I was looking forward to a glass of my favorite Irish
was curious and asked, "How much is Guinness these days?"
pints to the pound," he replied, as if it were an exchange rate.
was then. What is it now? Three pounds to the pint!
the "now" was "then." Today? More
like five pounds to the pint. Or
day after we were back in Florida, we had a strange telephone call.
Was our Dodge automobile still for sale? We had no Dodge—for
sale or otherwise. Apparently, an ad for one in that morning's
Sarasota Herald-Tribune had mistakenly listed our telephone number.
Must have been an appealing ad, because we received eleven more calls
that morning. One of them was particularly persistent.
you sure that it isn’t a Buick that
for sale? That’s what I really want."
felt guilty when I had to tell him that it was a Dodge—until I
remembered it wasn’t.
tried to push the Dodge out of my mind, but I clearly needed help. It
was much too heavy for one person. Distraction did come, however, in
the form of my missing spectacles, when I remembered that I still
needed to write my email to Dublin. At the very moment when I sat
down at my computer, events assumed a distinctively surreal quality.
I happened to look out of the window and saw a stranger walking
briskly up our driveway. He rang the doorbell.
I thought. It's that bloody car ad again! One of
"Artful Dodgers" must have done a reverse phone lookup, and
found our street address.
opened the door, hesitantly.
it Dr. Berkoff, then?" the young man asked in a soft, gentle,
it is," I replied in my best ex-Cockney brogue, wondering why an
Irishman was so determined to buy a Dodge.
the compliments of the Dooblin Boos Coompany," he said with an
impish smile, holding out my glasses case complete with missing
spectacles. My total confusion must have been very apparent, and our
visitor clearly savored the moment. In fact, he could scarcely
contain his laughter.
a Dublin Bus driver, explained. He had just come off his run on the
day we were there, and was chatting with a fellow bus driver.
"Another pair of glasses left behind by an American," said
his colleague. "Lives in Florida."
where in Florida?" Patrick asked.
me have them," said Patrick. "I'm going to be there next
weekend." I later learned that Patrick had a second home in
Sarasota on the west coast of Florida, where he and his family
enjoyed frequent holiday visits. In between, they rented their house
to others. We’ve arranged to meet them on their next trip over;
I've just got to know more about the life of a Dublin bus
we too wondered how Patrick could afford such a life style. But who
knows what tourists leave behind on Dublin buses. In any event, the
Dublin Bus Company's spectacle service was, well, spectacular!
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