In advance of my recent trip to Savannah, I called the Executive Editor of Savannah Now (the daily newspaper) and said, “I’m a Forrest Gump impersonator and I’m coming to town.” Her response, “We’re kinda burned out on Gump impersonators here in Savannah. There are already two who regularly work on the bus tours greeting tourists. But go ahead and send me your information.”
I defensively pleaded, “But I’m the original Forrest Gump impersonator!’
Needless to say, I never heard back.
Fast forward to when I’m sitting on a park bench in Chippewa Square. A friendly volunteer guide walks by and we strike up a conversation. She tells me that Forrest Gump is right over there by the theater greeting tourists when the Old Savannah Tours buses stop – you just missed him.
It was reminiscent of the scene from the movie when Forrest tells the elderly woman he’s waiting for the bus to visit Jenny on Henry Street. The woman says, “Why you don’t need to take the bus. Henry Street is just five or six blocks down that way.” Forrest hastily grabs his suitcase, quickly stands and says, “It was nice talking to you” as he runs off down the street.
Now I didn’t depart the bench as quickly as Forrest did, but I did eyeball the theater in search of the next generation Forrest Gump impersonator.
A few minutes later I was entering the theater lobby in search of Savannah’s doppelgänger.
There he was. Waiting patiently by the door for the next tour bus to arrive. We spoke briefly and told him the reason for my intrusion. The bus came and he walked out the door. It was showtime. He climbed aboard the bus and did his ‘Gump thing’ – much to the delight of the seated passengers.
It was surreal. I was watching a Forrest Gump impersonator work.
Previously, I only saw that from the inside out. Now I was watching it from the outside in.
As his skit was ending, he explained that he had to go, hastily exited the bus, turned the corner and ran down the street. The tourists cheered.
Afterwards, Josh Evans and I had a chance to speak. We shared some of our Gump experiences. Posed for a picture. I gave him my contact details. Josh emailed me. I emailed back. We’re now connected. The original Forrest Gump impersonator and the next generation Gump impersonator – we’re connected.
Here is what I learned:
- My jealous thoughts were unnecessary. Although my initial insecure feelings were real – I was able to feel joy and happiness for Josh.
- The opportunity to impersonate Forrest Gump in Savannah exists. I saw it. I even considered it, momentarily. Josh has embraced it.
- My time dealing with the general public was with Bubba Gump for 15 years. It was wonderful. My time working for the general public is?now over.
- The next generation Forrest Gump impersonator is alive and well. I’m supportive and approve.
Josh Evans and I are now connected. But here is the irony?
We’ve always been connected.
Connected in a special way. Connected through our mutual line of work. Connected as fellow human beings.
We’ve always been connected – we just hadn’t previously met.