Across Tennessee. By Kia.
There is a roundabout at Dollywood that is designed for little kiddies. They ride on large plastic ducks.
The Toddler climbs on to a duck. She has a look of utter delight on her face. Honestly, sometimes I could break down and weep at things like this. I would so like to be able to generate such utter delight just from sitting on a large plastic duck. If sitting on a large plastic duck was all it took, the world would be such a happy place. But at some point in everybody’s transition to adulthood the duck joy gets lost, and then there are wars and unemployment and the Daily Mail and stuff.
“Are you ready?” asks the lady who runs the duck ride.
She presses a button (or pulls a lever, or turns a key or something – I did not really get a close look, and it is immaterial to the story to be quite honest, although accuracy is always important to me, but sometimes you can be so keen to make something accurate that it will interrupt the flow), and the duck ride starts.
‘Quackquackquackquackquack!’ goes the ride, duck noises coming through small loudspeakers. ‘Quackquackquack!’
The Toddler waves as she goes past. ‘Quackquack!’
The ride is a simple concept. The roundabout goes round, with children on the ducks, and makes a quackquack noise. But it is enough. Even I am enchanted by the duck ride, so much so that I briefly stop looking at my watch to see when the next banjo music is due to begin.
After a minute or so, I notice something. I had assumed that the quackquack thing was an automatic function, set to start when the ride went round. Except that it is not. It is the lady who runs the ride’s job to stand by a microphone, going ‘quackquackquack’ at periodic intervals.
For some reason, this fills me with warmth and happiness. I have already identified Tennessee folk as being some of the loveliest, most friendly people who I have ever met. But the fact that this nice lady is still quacking with such enthusiasm and warmth on what must be the hundredth ride of the day is wonderful to behold. This is her job – to start the ride (by whatever means) and to go ‘quackquack’ into a microphone. I expect she probably has to do some safety checks as well, but it is the quacking that does it for me. She should get some citizens’ award.
The ride winds down. The Toddler is happy, and wants to go on again. I let her, as I am so impressed with the quacking lady. Then we go to see some more banjo music. It really is a perfect day.