Post 68, Hour 71: The Wheels on the Bus
By Barbara Samuels
Port St. Lucie, Florida
[This is another of the entries in our third flash humor writing competition. The topic: Road trips and ground transportation.]
A 26-year veteran of the public school system, the most alarming words I ever heard were, “It’s time for a field trip.”
My first year teaching kindergarten we took a short excursion to the post office. The building was approximately the size of a postage stamp. What could go wrong? Counting students for the return trip, I came up short. One little girl had crawled into a mailbag and fallen asleep. Apparently one should never schedule a trip during nap time.
Most elementary children love to sing. The little ones chime in with songs like, Wheels on the Bus. Charming during the first chorus, tear-your-hair-out excruciating by the sixtieth. The song of choice for fifth graders is usually, Bottles of Beer. They persist until all 100 containers are passed around, and just when you anticipate an empty wall, the group resets and begins again. I’ve not had a sip of alcohol since the experience.
There’s enough junk food to create dental issues for an entire population of a third world country. Bags are ripped open before leaving the parking lot. Candy, in amounts rivaling that found in a Hershey’s warehouse, are distributed by the fistful, while proper behavior and wrappers fly out the window.
Once the students are no longer contained by the walls of the bus, the fun begins. Counting skills are tested every few minutes to check that no one has gone rogue. The guest chaperones are more difficult to hunt down than the kids. On a South Street Seaport venture, a single mom and a divorced dad hooked up. They went for coffee leaving their charges unattended in the city and my hair a peculiar shade of gray.
Wherever you go, as soon as one child hits the bathroom, everyone insists on going. Some leave their seats three or four times, making the bathroom habits of my senior friends pale in comparison. Unfortunately, it’s the highlight of the trip for many.
In one darkened theater, an entire row of fifth graders tied their shoelaces together in knots so tight, Houdini couldn’t have escaped. When the group attempted to hop across a busy intersection, I called upon every Saint I could recall, and a few I made up, to ensure their survival. Once they were safe, I would have gladly killed them myself.
I had a student throw up on the hand-woven carpet in the United Nation’s building. We witnessed an entirely different side of the peace organization.
I do understand the importance of field trips, and I hope the wheels of the bus keep going round and round. But, I personally choose to put the brakes on traveling in multi-passenger vehicles, particularly ones that are yellow.