April 24, 2012

Throw Mama From the Bus

What I found is that if you're the bus driver, you don't necessarily feel the need to do the research to go from Point A to Point B. If you're the bus driver... you're literally... just driving. Navigation is optional.

At least if you're Cecelia and Teamster. If you're Mr. 'Yeats and Single Malt Scotch' and his cerebral sidekick, there is a GPS involved and consultation with the BD or coordinator to ensure everyone is on the same page.

I had mapquested every single destination, every stop, and printed it out complete with map AND directions. I spent hours and hours making sure that my travel Bible was filled with every thing we could possibly need.

So imagine my surprise when Cecelia missed our turn in Pensacola to get off for lunch at the Mall. She had the directions. I'd printed them. Evidently... reading was also optional. She keyed in on one line and decided to follow I-10 to an exit that didn't exist since she never bothered to look at the preceding steps having us get off on I-110 first.

Of course... this was my fault as she shrieked at me and us and everyone around how we were all incompetent... as she made her way through Pensacola, following the other bus driver who had the GPS, to find our way back to the Mall.

When we arrived at the Mall, what had started bad had gotten worse. To top it off, we realized the a/c in the bus didn't work for the last 5 rows, so the back of the bus was 20 degrees warmer than the front. Bundled in jackets and blankets in the front, the kids in the back were on slow roast, covered in a light sheen of sweat.

That was added to my list.

By the time we arrived in NOLA, as I said in the previous post, we were all done with each other. Margot was aghast, trying to smooth things over, when Cecelia went on one of her tirades.

Even Teamster was horrified and this is when he did something that stunned me. He pulled BD and me aside, and said, "Look, I just try to stay on her good side. It's tough. She's married to a woman just like her..."


All sorts of questions were running through my mind. Was she a man and became a woman? Was she born a woman, but wanted to be a man? Was she a transvestite? What WAS her DEALIO?

Folks, there is this thing I preach to my kids called, "Know your audience". There are corollaries that go with this such as "If you choose to cuss, don't drop the F bomb at church, school, or around ANY adults within ear shot."

One would assume that the "Know your audience" line is something every good businessman keeps in his arsenal, right? So why would someone send a bus driver like Cecelia to drive for a conservative Christian High School?

Now, I don't give two shakes what anyone's sexual orientation is, but the fact she was partially psychotic did bother me that she would be around teenagers and the fact she had some weird gender thing going does offend some. I think it's pretty safe to say... a Conservative Christian group is not the place she belonged for that gig.

And for Teamster to openly admit her alternative lifestyle just sent me shaking my head at the absurdity of it all.

From Pensacola to NOLA, the kids picked a movie... Hairspray. BD popped it into the bus VCR, sat down, shook his head and said to me and the assistant band director, "I'm sensing a theme to this bus trip..."

When the hotel was booked through the tour agency, we were assured we would all be on two floors, boys and girls separated. They insisted we send them a list of students two weeks in advance.

We arrived and found we were on five floors, some with chaperones, some without, boys and girls on the same floor, and kids' names had been left off the list.

We were officially in the land of Almost Perfect as we scanned the lists to see if kids on floors without chaperones were kids we could trust to be without a chaperone on their floor. Adding to our horror was the fact there were balconies on the floors as well. All the chaperones were reverberating at a low stressful hum as we looked into each other's faces and saw each of us was recounting some newspaper horror story we'd read in years past about teenagers and balconies.

And of course it all worked out or you'd have read about it in the newspaper. Not a way I want to be famous...

And we were lucky, we have great kids. Mr. Yeats and Single Malt Scotch was heard to say to someone on the phone when he didn't realize that there was a chaperone in listening distance, "No, seriously, this is a great gig. These kids... *silence* No. Seriously, there aren't just TWO disciplinarians, there are 12. Every single adult works to keep them in line and they listen!"

We arrived back from our touring on Friday afternoon to find 100 kids in the parking lot. It turns out they'd just arrived from Buffalo that day, something like a 36 hour drive, only for them to discover some of the kids had sneaked alcohol on the trip. Every kid's room was searched, every suitcase, every purse and the kids caught were immediately sent home via Mom and Dad's credit card.

We didn't have those worries.

Breakfast was the worst. It consisted of link sausages, biscuits, stale little pancakes and potatoes. No protein except sausage.

And this would be about the time, the administration and myself decided that next year I plan the entire thing... from start to finish, as we create a lessons learned folder.

I was soon to learn, as long as we were in NOLA, life was good. It was only being cooped up on the bus for an extended period of time did it become our own personal hell.

Teamster warmed up. Cecelia and I had a confrontation when she started to pass our lunch stop on the way home, declaring I'd never told her we were stopping, when I'd not only told her the stop, but gave her directions and she had me call the other bus driver to make sure he knew.

After she wigged out, I heard Teamster say to the other bus during lunch, "She's even on my last nerve now..." and the three bus drivers demanded she come apologize to me.

Funnier still, we were at lunch, shortly after the altercation, and I told Father (we had a priest with us) that I thought I might get thrown from our bus and he might find me on his. He looked at me and grinned and said, "Will this be... Throw Mama From the Bus?", which we decided might be the name of our bus trip movie.

There were some GREAT aspects that I'll get into tomorrow. The horrors were truly only completely evident to the adults as we navigated the crazy personalities and the bus situation. For the most part, the kids appeared oblivious, in their own little worlds of laughter, comraderie, and music. There was a lot of singing.

The three kids in front of me are HUGE political and history buffs and I loved listening to them banter back and forth as they played Risk via cell phone. Son#4 was in that group and it warmed my heart to hear him poking at his friends as they poked back. It was interesting to hear as they conquered Country after Country as they discussed the history and politics of each Country.

I keep getting emails from parents telling me what a great time their kids had.

Tomorrow... cemeteries, Preservation Hall and more...

And yes, I'm already planning next year's trip. I'm thinking Charleston. We just have to have a place we can perform where people will listen. Thoughts?

And I leave you with the song they sang all weekend, the chorus mainly, at the top of their lungs... on our bus. It makes me smile...

Posted by Boudicca at April 24, 2012 03:09 PM

Looking forward to hearing more...I think, lol!

Oh, and here's the video for the 'older' crowd (We're Not Young): (won't let me do a youtube link...try searching for 'We're NOT Young' parody...

Posted by: Mrs. Who at April 24, 2012 06:53 PM

Well, at least you had rooms when you got there. When I was in Girl Scouts about 14 years old, our troop went to Mexico City then the Girl Scout house. We earned all the money ourselves and it was a big trip - took us over a year to work for it.

We got to the hotel in Mexico City where we had made reservations for the first weekend, only to find they had tossed us (I guess they figured - what would we do?). We ended up at a rather creepy looking hotel down the street. ICK. We survived it, but I have no desire to ever go back to Mexico City after that. For that matter I left the troop shortly after that. I worked all that time for a scrungy trip to a place that turned out to be dirty and scary... yeah right count me out.

Next year I see you doing something like getting the room guarantees in writing with a fine if they don't follow through. Wow! As for the bus and the driver... OMG... The whole lunatic genderbender thing... you know don't you... we're all supposed to be tolerant and if you don't want to be tolerant, they're gonna MAKE you.

BTW are you asking for any refund?

Can't wait to hear the rest. :-)

Posted by: Teresa at April 24, 2012 08:40 PM

..... people would have bled.....

Posted by: Eric at April 24, 2012 09:19 PM

Charleston? Why not be part of the Piccolo Spoleto Festival?!! But start application today.

Sing at Patriots' Point, or at the pier, one of the downtown cathedrals, City Marina, or Marion Square Farmers' Market on any Saturday, or the steps of the Market Street market, or the swank lobby of Charleston Place, or. . .

Plenty of venues. It would be awesome to have you here!!

Posted by: Joan of Argghh! at April 25, 2012 11:35 AM

That's not Pat Benatar. Okay, that's not the title, but still...

Posted by: Toluca Nole at April 25, 2012 02:53 PM

If you want to improve your knowledge simply keep visiting this website
and be updated with the newest information posted here.

Posted by: freebies for moms-to-be at April 25, 2012 03:34 PM

Just the roaches alone should make for a 100% refund. Politely let the bus company know that the local news would have a field day with this report.
I can't believe I complained about the clifhanger and forgot to check until now. Glad the kids had fun.

Posted by: AC at April 25, 2012 08:05 PM