Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sunday Favorites -- See The Gator

It's Sunday and time for Sunday Favorites, where Chari, from Happy to Design allows participants to share an old blog post with readers, while still taking Sunday off, by reposting an old post.

Years ago, as an over the road truck driver, I collected a few thoughts and stories from my journeys and travels. In my Sunday Favorites posts, I am sharing some of those stories.

This one speaks for itself. Have you ever seen the gator?


As you approach Florida, on I 95 you see start to see billboards miles before you get to the state line.  "See The 14'  Alligator"  they proudly proclaim in letters almost as high as the acclaimed alligator is long.

I have always been fascinated by alligators, and when I saw the signs, I knew this was going to be a "must stop" tourist attraction for me.

We saw more and more of these bright blue and orange banners as we got closer: "See The 14' Alligator, 45 miles ahead" then 25 miles, 15 miles, 5 miles, 2 miles. 
They wanted to make sure you didn't miss your chance to see that 'gator. 
I wanted to make sure too, so I kept my eyes peeled for the exit number that would take me to the 14' alligator.

Finally, we were there,  the 'gator exit. As we got off the freeway, we could see  huge fruit stands, stretching out for what looked like several city blocks. 
There were piles of oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, and limes.  There were mounds of coconuts and tables heaped with conch shells.

 Brilliant colors airbrushed on everything from sand dollars to T-shirts made sure we knew that we had arrived in Tourist Heaven.

Inside the shop we loaded up with all the tourist stuff: local candies, postcards, T-shirts, coffee mugs, hat pins, even coconuts carved like pirates. .

The Florida Bureau of Tourism probably posts advisories to all its member merchants to be on the lookout for people like us.  We might as well write "Geeky Tourist" across our foreheads in red ink.

But where was the alligator?  I looked up and down the sides of the building, looking for a pond.  Was there a special tank?  A shed where he lived?  Where would they keep a 14-foot alligator where people could see him, and yet still be able to feed him?

Finally, I asked someone.  "Where is the Alligator?"  With a smile, he directed me to the most distant and smallest building on the property.  It was nothing more than a cheesy looking store with seashell mobiles and wind chimes hanging from the eaves.  Holding my camera, I walked as fast as I could over to the 'gator building. 

I had waited a long time for this.  I had read the signs, and by golly, I was going to see the 'gator.

As soon as I walked in the front door I saw him.  There perched on a display table in the front corner of the store,  was the alligator, all 14 feet of him. Mouth agape in a frightening display of rows of needle sharp teeth.  With at least 1/8 inch of dust on him. Dead and stuffed.  Just like he had been for years I'm sure.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm sure that alligator was 14 feet long, just like the signs said.  And they never once said "Live Alligator".  Nevertheless, I felt just a little bit cheated.  They didn't lie to me. They delivered exactly what they had promised, yet I had allowed myself to believe that there would be much more.

How often in life do we allow ourselves to have great expectations, only to be disappointed when reality does not measure up to our imagination?

Now, when I find out the truth about something, and it wasn't quite all it was cracked up to be, when I experience the letdown that comes with disappointment, I don't let it get me down. 

After all, it's not the first time "I've Seen the 'Gator". 

~{@ @}~ ~{@ @}~ ~{@ @}~ ~{@ @}~

Be sure and join me each Tuesday for Tuesday Trivia Tie-in, where readers are invited to share trivia and show off their treasures.

Read all about it here


  1. Great post Troy. I think we have all 'Seen the 'Gator' at one time or another. Disappointments abound but so do wonderful surprises and adventures as long as we are willing to take that chance.

  2. That was a great story. I wasn't expecting a stuffed gator either. I did get to hold a baby alligator once on a swamp tour while in Lousiana. And did stop by a gator farm while on the way to St Augustine, FL

  3. Excellent post Troy, I think that might be a sentence to add to my vocabulary.

  4. I will work that into my conversations from now on when referring to things that have not measured up to their "advertised" billing.
    We can use it so many ways. In restaurants, in garden centers, in intimate
    You have started a new catchphrase. Thanks.

  5. Well, at least we got a bunch of the vey best blood red oranges that day!

  6. Hi Troy... many times in life...have I seen that gator!!! Wished I had a quarter for every one of them...I'd be a rich woman! Hehe! Your story reminds me of my latest great expectation-letdown! Honey and I got to interview for a "Pawn Stars" show while we were out in Vegas. Ooops...have you heard of Pawn Stars...the new TV reality show? Ohhh my goodness, the pawn shop was nothing like what you picture it to be after watching the show. I mean, where are all of those great items that they take in? Nowhere to be found! I guess that I shouldn't ruin it for everyone else but the experience reminded me so much of your story today!

    Well my friend, sure enjoyed this post! I'm so glad that you shared it with us today for Sunday Favorites!!! I always enjoy your "life's wisdom" that you bring out of these experiences!!!

    Have a super Sunday, Troy!
    Chari @Happy To Design