Get on the Bus!

My youth goes WAY back to the days before cell phones. I was a member of, and am an instructor now with, a drum and bugle corps. It’s very similar to marching band with one HUGE difference. The intensity and commitment of the members and staff are MEASUABLY higher. The marching season is longer, and involves extensive travel in the summer.

One tour, when I was 19, I’m standing in line to use a pay phone to call home. We were in Utah. Don’t remember how long I had been in line, but it was after the show, and my time was limited before having to get back on the bus and continue traveling east.

Finally I am next in line. There’s a local kid in front of me talking to his mom. One of groups that had performed that night had an open spot and he wanted to march that spot. He was trying to explain the situation to his mother, but was failing because he had never participated in drum corps and was not explaining the situation well.

I tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around. I looked him in the eye, held out my hand and told him to give me the phone. He just stared at me. I said again. Give. Me. The. Phone. Almost trace-like he hands me the phone. (I actually think my presence was stronger in my youth)

Good evening Miss, I turned and just looked at the kid. He responded by saying his last name. Good evening Miss (I don’t remember), my name is Ray Santos and I am a member of one of the groups your son saw perform tonight; and then went on to explain the situation.

I explained the activity in general and all the benefits her son would gain as the result of his participation: discipline, goal setting – achievement, confidence, dramatic increase in performance skill, etc.

Next I explained what she needed to do, specifically – gather materials: clothes for at least two weeks (warm and cold weather), underwear-socks-t-shirts-shorts for at least three weeks, at least two pairs of athletic shoes and one pair of nice shoes, two sets of nice clothes, shower/personal hygiene stuff, a baseball hat, sunscreen, 1 gallon water jug, lip balm, sleeping bag, pillow, blanket, reading/writing material, envelopes/stamps, radio/tape player, (there’s more stuff but you get the idea), a good sized suitcase, at least one gym bag, and at least one backpack. Several hundred dollars in cash would also come in handy (also mentioning that each group travelled with at least 2 dozen parent volunteers and one would hold his money and keep it safe.)

I spoke nonstop for several minutes. She never spoke or asked questions after our initial greeting, and I was being quite thorough. This was my third tour. I had been around the block and I knew how to talk to grownups 🙂

I finished by telling she had to do all I instructed her to do in less than hour and to bring everything down to the show site a.s.a.p. or her son would miss out on a life changing experience.

There was a pregnant pause. Then all she said was, okay.

I turned back, faced the kid, told him his mom said okay, and told him to say bye mom. I held the phone to his face, he said bye mom. I hung up the phone and made my call.

I never looked for that kid to see if it all actually happened, him getting to go on tour. I hand wrote a journal at the time. I wrote down some pretty insignificant things and made no note of what I just wrote. I remembered the event years later, and don’t remember what triggered the memory.

I do honestly remember this. That kid was wasting my time. (That sounds like a good topic!) I wasn’t trying to do him a favor or be nice. He was failing and I wanted the phone. I took charge because I simply wanted to make my own phone call.

It’s funny to me now how I was and what my thinking was like. That’s one of the benefits I have regarding keeping a journal in my youth. I get to read about me and I really haven’t changed much. That’s a good thing, mostly 🙂

Got lots to do today. I had 35 hits on my blog yesterday! Thank you 😀

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