Enjoy the ride, long or short

The Examiner

So it was this sort of undercover Boy Scout deal. I’m pretty sure those aren’t in the handbook.

Perhaps I should explain.

Every kid in America should visit his or her state capitol, at least once and against their will if necessary. Some do-gooder adults have to be enlisted for the effort as well.

Jeff Fox

There is a myth, or so I’ve been told, that every fourth grader in Missouri does this. That is not true. I checked with my kid’s school when he was at that age – even said I was up for the role of do-gooder – but the resources just weren’t there. Nuts.

Maybe this is a job for the Scouts. I remember visiting Springfield, Illinois a couple times, seeing the Capitol and all that Lincoln stuff, once with school and once with Scouts. The Scout trip was the more memorable of the two, probably because it involved a short paddlewheel boat ride on the Sangamon River.

I enlisted two boys – my son and a friend. Fellas, we’re taking a train ride. These were the same two I took to the State Fair every year, where they could eat, ride or pet whatever they wanted, so they said sure.

This wasn’t a Scout event, but in my brain – on that level where every man thinks he’s some sort of spy on one secret mission after another – this was a dry run for a much more ambitious operation.

We took the train from Independence to Jefferson City. People like trains. Success. Check.

We saw the Capitol, talked to people and took in the State Museum. They learned something. Success. Check.

There was probably pizza, specifically wonderful Greek pizza across from the Capitol. Obvious success. Check.

So this became a thing for the Scout troop on Presidents Day for several years. Train, Capitol, pizza. Check, check, check. Success all around. The highlight was probably when the Amtrak conductor let an 8-year-old little brother of a Scout have the microphone and make announcements to the whole train.

But things happen. Amtrak raised rates for 12- to 14-year-olds, and that made the day a bit much for many families. (Life hack: Whatever you do, avoid dealing with Amtrak group sales. Never again, friends, never again.)

It couldn’t have happened this year anyway because so many of our state legislators have consistently blown off basic pandemic protocols. It wouldn’t be safe to take a group there. 

The point is this: Even when you have gone undercover, gathered intelligence, devised and executed a solid operation and in the process done something good and right and true, you can pat yourself on the back – for one minute. Because things turn on a dime, and there’s not much you can do about it.

Enjoy what you have while you have it.

Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s editor. Reach him at jeff.fox@examiner.net.