If you did not catch "Part I," here's a link to it. And now, without further fanfare, Jungle Theater presents the conclusion of Marooned In The Jungle.
So. I am stranded on an island just as the Jungle Cruise is about to open its daily operations.
My brain is racing with thoughts of, "you'll be walked out; you'll be given a permanent 'No Rehire.'"
Despair sets in --- just a tad.
Peering through the foliage back towards the dock, I see our area supervisor approaching the lead.
I duck down like a Green Beret under direct enemy fire.
Over at the far end of the dock, I hear the Skipper chatting up the first boat of guests for the morning.
"Greetings and welcome aboard! Show of hands, anyone coming on board visiting from outside of California??
Yes. You, sir, where're you from?"
"Oh, I heard you fine, I'm just...sorry. Seriously, welcome aboard. Since you're from Cleveland, I'll try and speak a little slower, okay? Anyone here born on their birthday or some other day during the year?? Raise those hands? Anyone else from out of town? Out of patience? Out of control? Out of money? Oh, yes in the back! You're out of money? Well, welcome to Disneyland!"
By now, my inner "Jungle Load" clock is telling me the boat is almost full and will be steaming off into the jungle---with me now an unwilling participant in the Show along its river banks.
"All right! Let's get those last victims---er, visitors---into the back and we're off! Turn around and wave good-bye to the beautiful people back on the dock!"
From my crouched position near the hut, I can see the area manager turn from the lead and head out the exit toward the Bazaar. Whew. Close one.
The next boat is now loading and I can hear the tell-tale rumble of the first boat's throttled engine as it makes its way past the Ancient Cambodian Shrine and into the Elephant Pool. I know that I can keep out of view, but at some point, I've got to get off this island and back to my duties!
"HEY, SKIP!" My lead's voice pierces the vegetation.
"BETTER SAY HI TO THE WATER BUFFALO!"
Is this some kind of code?
I inch back toward the water buffalo side of the island, along the narrow trail.
As I near the bank, I hear the sound of a boat engine---but it's not a Jungle boat.
It's the skiff!
Coming from under Schweitzer falls and buzzing, bow-first towards me is one of our senior Jungle Skippers---laughing and gesturing for me to get ready to jump in.
I shoot him a half-smile/half-glare and grab for the bow of the skiff, which wobbles under my grip. In a single move, I jump from the island bank into the small vessel and, before I am quite seated, my fellow skipper throttles the outboard and we shoot forward past Sam. I find myself on the floorboards, the momentum of the boat throwing me back.
There is muted laughter from behind me as we race to our right through the open gate that leads to Boat Storage. We zip by so fast that I doubt a single guest down at the far end of the dock at Load ever became aware of our presence.
Pulling alongside the edge of the boat storage area, the skiff's captain activates the control to shut the doors to Boat Storage. He kills the engine and we drift ahead toward the storage bays. He is now laughing loudly and I can feel the aluminum hull shaking under me.
"Did you see the area manager, Robinson Crusoe!?? I thought we were dead!!" He stammers between giggles.
"Yeah. Um, where did you come from??"
"Don sent me around to hang out by the Lost Safari while you were stranded. He told me to pick you up after the first boat was dispatched. Guess he didn't expect the manager to show up so early!"
This was a day shift, so the crew was mostly veterans. After we exited the skiff, we walked from the back area, past the Tahitian Terrace, and stepped across the rocks that formed a walkway to the Unload dock.
Arriving at the dock, I was cheered and razzed by the Skippers.
I feigned indignation---for by now, the joke was completely on me so I figured I might as well go along with it!
"Home is the hunter! Home from the hill!" called out one of the few, more literate cast members.
"Hey, Mike! How's Sam?? Heard you were hut hunting! Did you open an escrow?"
"You shoulda seen the look on your face! I'm still laughing!"
"It's times like these when you find out who your real friends are!"
"You had that coming ever since that episode last week at Charley Brown's"
There was applause.
A shift-long ridicule ensued.
It persisted over the course of the summer.
I became known as "Island Mike" among the opening crew who were present.
Then among newer cast members who were nowhere near the attraction when this little stunt was pulled.
I wore the mantle with honor.
I learned a valuable lesson of the Jungle.
Never leave the skiff---unless you're at the dock.
Adieu, mon ami!