(Copyright 2000. The Tattoo. All rights reserved.)

The Tattoo

--- Making a Permanent Impression Since 1994 ---

September 4, 2000

Soggy and sullen, waiting for the bus

By Joe Wilbur

The Tattoo

So you're going to high school. But how are you getting
there? A number of you will be lucky enough to know
someone with a car, a fortunate few will be close enough to
walk. The rest of you, the sorriest lot, will find yourself at
the corner, in the piercing cold, shoes soggy, ears  frozen

If you can find any way to avoid becoming a mass
commuter, do it.

Mass transit is usually unpleasant, no matter where you are
or what the circumstance -- but the worst of it, the absolute
lowest you can go, is school transit.

The first problem is that the schools don't own the busses -- a
company supplies them, and their drivers.

The lines of communication between these two are not
always open wide.

You could find yourself waiting after school on a half-day
for an hour or more as flustered administrators try to figure
out where the busses are and when they'll arrive.

You could stand on the corner for 20 minutes waiting for a
bus that's been delayed or simply isn't coming due to a
cancellation that hasn't yet been reported.

For these, and a number of other reasons, bussing it just isn't
the most dependable travel option.

Secondly, riding the bus means that you're not in control.

You come and go on command -- oversleep this morning?
Too bad, kid -- "Crazy" Nancy, your bus driver, part-time
bong engineer and Metallica fan, was up at five and left your
stop 10 minutes ago.

Need to go to your locker or talk to a teacher after school?
Too bad, kid -- "Crazy" Nancy's got places to be and if
you're not at her folding door when the bell rings, you're
screwed -- no after 
school transportation available.

This can be a real problem if you happen to be a band
student or missed a day of school and need to make up a
quiz or lab after 2:05.

Third, and most important, I think, see the crowd at the bus
stop? Even if it's just a half dozen or fewer freezing,
sleepy-eyed morning travelers, take a good look. Your bus
will be picking up a crowd this size 10 times or more on its
way to school, and dropping them off afterward.

You'll be lucky to find a seat at all -- especially if you're one
of the latter stops, but when you do it will almost certainly
be next to a 280 pound halfback who smells like corn chips
and wants to sleep with you if you're female or pummel you
if you're male.

Believe it or not, this guy's at his most charming this early in
the morning -- he's just had his medication.

I once rode home, after a draining and humiliating day of
tests, quizzes, recitations and gym, next to a Marilyn Manson
fan in a black imitation crushed velvet cape who insisted on
reading me his poetry. Don't let this happen to you.

Someone you know has an older brother, sister, buddy or
mere acquaintance with a car. You've met a senior at lunch
or in drama class.

Network, kid, network -- these people are your high school
comrades and valuable assets -- utilize them.

Anyway, chances are, they stood at a bus stop too, and can
appreciate what it's like to be in your soggy shoes.