Insider's Guide to High School The Tattoo

Soggy and sullen, waiting for the bus

BRISTOL, Connecticut, U.S.A. — 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 WAITING FOR THE BUS.

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 buses — 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 buses 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, busing 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.

Joe Wilbur is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.

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