You know the drill. Last chapters.

Trip Leaders I Have Known

\”Just shut up and ride the bus!!\” – Larry Guillioma, Band director and veteran trip leader

Trip leaders are a fascinating breed of folks known by their distinctive call:

For fun, they look at maps and walk up and down bus aisles counting people. From a distance, the trip leader can be identified by his instinctive briefcase. First time trip leaders may simply carry a clipboard or a stack of papers, but after watching the paperwork blow out of the window at 85mph and paying the $200 littering fine, he will invest in a geek box.

Once upon a time, the trip leadwer was a real live himan being. He ate, slept, and used the restroom like any other Homo Sapien. But years of travel, millions of miles, gas stations, and Big Mac\’s have changed a respectible looking man into a dishelveled derelict with bus-hair and mis-matched shoes. Obviously, authority spoken here.

There are two basic types of trip leaders. We\’ll call them Roadtrip Ralph and Sergeant Sam.

Roadtrip Ralph is just a fun guy. His theory is that getting there is 3/4\’s of the fun, so let\’s make in a party. He allows three hour meal/shopping stops and encourages everyone to make the most of every opportunity, including stops at traffice signals. He orders the driver to stop at every museum and historical marker to expand the minds of his charges. And, of course, he\’s done his homework and can recite the history of every object passed. Although it may take two days to leave town, Ralph\’s trips are exciting and educational.

Sergeant Sam, however, believes that everyone should have been there yesterday. He is concerned with time and clocks and mileage, often timing a gas stop to the tenth of a tank. Call him efficient. And if Sam is on a trip where Ralph is the trip leader, call him a travel agent. Get Sam there by plane or he\’ll never survive the first rest stop.

People on the Bus

\”The people on the bus go up and down
up and down
up and down
the people on the bus go up and down, all through the town\” – Ancient bus rider chant and first grade sing along.

You climb onto the Highway Hilton, crawl over several thousand bodies, some twice, and finally spot the prize: an empty seat. But look! Someone else has depostited his/her paraphenalia on the adjoining seat. Who could it be? Let\’s look at the possibilities….

Jammin Jeremy: The music expert. Of course, you\’ll be sharing space with $500 worth of portable stereo equipment. You\’ll have to split the battery costs as well, after all, you\’re listening too.

Marvin, the Musical Mouth: He knows every word to every song ever written. He\’ll demonstrate his knowledge by singing every song at a volume competitive with the jam boxes.

Trying Tracy: Every 15 minutes, this peacemaker will scream \”Will everyone PLEASE SHUT UP!\”

Betty Braid: Entertains herself by creating new and bizarre hair styles for everyone on the bus. Now her best friend is…

Mary Makeover: To complete your facial furnishings.

Carla Carsic: Comes with Dramamine and her own supply of clear plastic bags.

Rachel Restroom: Makes the most of every opportunity.

Larry Laugh: Owner of the worst guffaw you\’ve ever heard, he\’ll laugh for 28 hours straight.

Terrorist Ted: Wanted in 8 states for 123 counts of bear molesting. Liable to distrss any stuffed object.

Sleepy Steve: He will only wake up to remove the black jelly beans and other various and sundry things placed in his gaping drooling mouth.

Matt Map: Know 24 quicker ways to get there.

Screeching Sally: doesn\’t her name say it all??

2006 note:

First off, I realize that of course women can be trip leaders. They grow up to be soccer moms. But female trip leaders just aren\’t as funny, since herding cats requires more estrogen than testosterone.

This was before the days of Walkmen and IPods, of course. Now $500 worth of stereo equipment fits in your shirt pocket and everyone on the bus has one along with ear buds. Which is sad, really, because part of the shared experience was listening to the same insipid music the entire trip and then when you hear it in Walmart twenty years later, all the memories come rushing back like a wave a shoppers heading for the only open checkout stand. But I digress….