…but you can’t buy another you

Back in elementary school, we used to have these strange bus evacuation drills. My school was in a rural area of Orange County, NY. The way these drills used to start was with our bus taking a short detour from the normal route. The driver would park the bus in a large, evacuated parking lot and open the fire exit in the back of the bus. Not sketchy at all.

He or she explained the emergency exits and went over procedures that we were to follow in case of an emergency. Every time, the speech went on forever, or at least it felt that way. At the end of the speech, the driver set up the fake scenario that the bus was on fire and instructed us on what to do. We were to drop all of our belongings and exit through the back of the bus. Part of the speech, the driver always said, “just let it go; you can buy another ____, but you can’t buy another you.” The _____ was always something like “coat,” “bag,” “book,” or other items a young child going to school would have. Next, we were asked to leave the bus from the back exit, which was fun because we got to jump out, even though we shouldn’t have.

This one time, we were directed through the exercise. We heard the speech, and proceeded to jump out of the back of the bus. I must have been in 4th grade, which means I was on a bus with children at most my age, since 5th grade and up would take a different bus to a different part of the campus. There was a kid, probably a year or two younger than me, who jumped off the back of the bus clinching his book bag.

The bus driver pulled this kid aside and scolded him for not leaving his stuff on the bus, and the kid started crying. So the bus driver tried consoling the kid who revealed that the reason that he took his bag with him.

His parents told him that they would kill him if anything happened to his book bag.

And that’s why bus drivers shouldn’t tell kids what to do.


4 thoughts on “…but you can’t buy another you

  • Valerae

    That’s either hilarious or sad. Holy smokes – poor kid either way!

    Even though I never rode the bus, except for field trips, all of the kids at my school were subject to these drills annually. I always think of it when I’m exiting a plane. The rule on the bus was that you exit one row at a time, in order…seems simple – and kids can grasp it. But when you’re deplaning, it’s every man for himself and people will push and shove and not let you out of your seat. It’s like driving in Jersey: you have to be aggressive or you’ll be run over.

    I miss the simplicity of the emergency bus rules: “stuff” isn’t important, take your turn in order, etc. Except for in the case of that poor boy, those rules could make life better.

  • Darth

    I never had an emergency drill on a bus . . . I just had to sit there in misery while the radio was on K104 playing something dumb like Cheryl Crow and idiots smoked cigarettes in the back because they couldn’t wait 5 minutes until they got off the bus to smoke.

  • Roz

    Adults have to remember that children are not stupid, but that they are very inexperienced little human beings who believe their parents and take things literally. The bus driver couldn’t have known what the parents said to the little guy. The parents, on the other hand…

    (My experience was a little different, though. Maybe it’s because I’m Italian, but there were always death threats flying around my house. By the time I was 7 I was pretty sure they weren’t literal. Once I hit my teens they were hilarious–but then again, you had to know my parents.)


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