Wednesday, September 29, 2010

149. Bus-Stop Etiquette

There are certain rules and regulations, an implied "code of conduct" if you will, for proper behavior while you are waiting at the school bus-stop for your child to be whisked away and you to be granted a child-free existence for eight whole hours. You must observe these guidelines at all times. If you have recently moved into the neighborhood and are not yet aware of what they are, you are in luck because I happen to have my old wrinkled and coffee-stained copy right here. Feel free to commit it to memory, or at the very least, Xerox it:
  • You must look presentable. Even though “presentable” in your old neighborhood back in California meant pajamas, that is not what we are looking for here. In fact, pajamas for the most part would be considered NOT presentable (*exception: if your child’s teacher designates this as “Pajama Day”, then your CHILD may wear pajamas and you can possibly get away with pajamas too, but only if you are being “ironic”).
  • If your hair is messy and you have zero time to brush it because you forgot to put money in the on-line bank account for buying school lunch so now you have to run around like a crazy person and pack a suitable lunch, then a baseball cap is acceptable.
  • Try not to wear a baseball cap 178 days in a row.
  • As far as make-up goes, if you have not yet brushed your hair, then you certainly cannot be expected to find time for lipstick.
  • Try to learn everyone’s names, including the students and their random siblings, the first day. If you don’t, you will be reduced to a fun year of mumbling (“Hi Dave..uh..Johnuh, I mean Jim??”).
  • If you did not learn everyone's name last year and now you are expected to know their names this year, do your best to eavesdrop if they are introducing themselves to someone new. Go over and pretend you want to meet the new person too, even though what you really want to know is if your neighbor's name is Sarah or actually Serena (you hope it's Sarah, because that is what you have been mumbling all last year and you will be really embarrassed if it is Serena or worse, Tara).
  • You must make polite small talk with the other victims parents waiting with you, or at least make eye-contact and smile semi-genuinely (if they have not yet had their coffee, chances are they will not be able to decipher the difference between genuine and semi-genuine at the ungodly hour of 8 AM so don’t stress about that too much).
  • Polite small talk topics include but are not limited to the following: how hot it is; how cold it is; how rainy it is; how dry it is; if the City is going to cut the tree down; how the City needs to cut the tree down; how distressed you are that they City did indeed cut the tree down; how long you have been waiting for the bus; how you almost overslept; how your child overslept; how your child never oversleeps; what sports your kid plays; how much time the sports eat up; how much you love your child’s teacher (even if you actually hate her); how your child has too much homework; how your child does not have enough homework; how you never had homework at that age; what you are doing this week-end; what you did last week-end; your miserable failures at gardening; your admiration for other people’s gardening skills.
  • You may also have an elaborate discussion about what time the bus will be dropping the children off later (even though you all know the answer is 3:52 PM and that it has not changed in 5 years, it is still good to talk about it, at least on a semi-weekly basis).
  • It is also acceptable to compliment other parents on their shoes, or even their children’s shoes.
  • Do not under any circumstances ask Annabelle how much her outfit cost. Again. Why do you think she stands far away from you now?
  • It is rude to look at your watch more than 7 times in 5 minutes. Try to only look at it once during the entire wait (otherwise it looks like you don’t want to talk to the other parents and that you would rather be watching your TiVo of last night’s episode of TopChef—even though that might be true, but just because it was the season finale and you fell asleep).
  • If you must look at your watch, do so only in the context of “Gosh, I can’t believe how late the bus is again!” Then laugh. Also good to shake your head.
  • If someone else comments on how late the bus is, it’s a good idea to laugh and say, “I know!”
  • A great fall-back topic of conversation if you have already blitzed through all the above suggestions is how nice you think the bus driver is, and how she has a really tough job with all those screaming kids and how glad you are that it is not your job (a good thing to say here is, “Better her than me!” and then smile).
  • Try not to ask the guy who just lost his job “How’s work going?” Try to remember that he just lost his job. (He might start standing away from you, maybe next to Annabelle.)
  • If you bring donuts one morning out-of-the-blue, everyone will forget how you insulted Lost His Job Guy.
  • If you see someone’s child hit your child in the face, say nicely, “Gosh, what are the kids up to over there?” Under no circumstances say, “Your kid punched my child in the face!” even if there is blood everywhere. If an ambulance is called, then you are free to say whatever you want.
  • If your child hits another kid right in the face, say, “Oh, I'm so sorry! He never does that at home!” even if he really does do that at home every day to his poor little brother. If the poor little brother chimes in and says, “But Mommy, he hits me in the face all day long,” pretend you didn't hear him and mention how cold it is.
  • If you forget to pick your child up in the afternoon for the 4th day in a row and your very kind and helpful freighbor brings him home to you, do not say, “Uh, jeez, it was so peaceful and I was so happy that I guess I forgot my own child again!” Instead, say something like, “I was just walking out there this exact second—wow, I think the bus might’ve been early for once. Hey, I really appreciate you getting my son for me, here’s a nice bottle of wine to say thank you.”
Hope this Information Guide helps. It should get you through at least the first week or so.

(“Meeting Other Villagers”)

1 comment:

When you write a comment, it makes me feel like I won the lottery or at the very least like I ate an ice-cream sundae. (This has nothing to do with the fact that I did just eat an ice-cream sundae.)