A while back, I made up a list of rules for marching band called “How to Not Be A Jerk”. Because so many people enjoyed it, I’m going to publish some of what I’ve come up with here.
Without Further Adieu,
Bus rides can be the most incredible experience of your marching band career. They can also be a rather satanic way to spend several hours of your life surrounded by (or being) complete morons with no sense of courtesy and respect. Here’s how to be a decent human being on a bus:
- Under no circumstance, including impending doom, is hairspray, perfume, cologne, sunblock, mosquito repellant, air freshener, or any other smelly or aerosolized substance acceptable on a bus. The people around you are forced to be in a tight, closed, less-than-ventilated metal box for hours on end. Don’t be the guy (or gal) who made the entire trip smell like Axe Body Spray. Besides, some people are allergic to that stuff.
- Drinks not sealed in bottles, ice cream, and other loose liquid-esque items are typically forbidden by bus drivers. Additionally, the lack thereof can save you big cleaning fines.
- The bathroom in the back is for EMERGENCIES only. As in not “I’m going to be really uncomfortable until we stop in 20 minutes” emergencies. As in throwing-up or severe-bowel-issue types of emergencies. And no, Post-Wendy’s Syndrome does not count as a bathroom emergency. Seriously, though. The engine is right by the bathroom tank, so it cooks all the Post-Wendy’s goodness like a pressure cooker (and it smells like one too).
- If you’re going to eat on the bus, don’t choose anything ethnic or smelly. Fast food is usually the way to go, as it tends not to stink up the bus, and it’s all neatly contained.
- The shades on the windows are not toys and are ridiculously distracting. People around you are trying to sleep, and it’s just obnoxious to be constantly playing with the blinds. If the sun is in your eyes, set the blind and leave it.
- Be quiet. Nothing is worse than someone whose conversations are broadcast for all to hear.
- Act professional. Everyone has to be around you, so stay wholesome and courteous throughout the entirety of the bus ride.
- The seat behind you is occupied. Give fair warning before you recline.
- The seat in front of you will recline. Plan accordingly.
- Throw away your garbage. Even if the bus driver is your mom, it’s rude to make your mom clean up after you.
- Throw away your friends’ garbage (if it’s obviously garbage). It’s a ton easier if everyone picks up one piece of trash than if one person picks up everyone’s.
- DO NOT MOVE OTHER PEOPLE’S STUFF. Seriously. Just… don’t.
- The air conditioner and heater will both be broken. Your seat won’t recline properly. The back of the bus will smell like the restroom. Plan accordingly. That’s code for apply deodorant, bring a jacket, bring a pillow, bring a gas mask (NOT aerosol stink spray).
- If you’d like to show a movie on the bus TVs, make sure it’s PG, then present it to the bus for a vote at an appropriate time (NOT at 1:30AM). Disney tends to be a favorite. Then, assist the chaperones in starting the movie and turning the volume such that it can be heard only if it is listened for (to allow people to use headphones). Don’t bug the bus driver if the TVs are broken.
- Headphones are code for “I don’t want to talk to you” unless otherwise specified. Half the time, they are used solely as that exact social cue.
- Closed eyes mean “I want to sleep” and so mean “I will punch you if you talk to me”.
- If you’re grumpy, so is everyone. Be kind and non-abrasive.
- Listen to music only through headphones. If you play music for all to hear, you are suddenly 30-70 of your ex-friends’ least favorite person.
- Walking up and down the aisles should be limited to throwing away garbage (not often) and emergencies. Except for band moms. They are always allowed to roam the aisles.
- Thank the bus driver (by name) on your way out, every time (eg “Thanks, Bart!”).