Field Trip!


October 11, 2013 by Marj Hatzell

I’ve accompanied Bug Boy on every field trip he has ever taken in school, save two, in eight years of formal schooling. One I missed because I herniated to discs in my back and couldn’t walk. The other was because my husband decided that HE wanted to be the one accompany a bus full of 6th graders to New York City. Which I was more than happy to pass on to him, since it was from 6am to 8pm, and I figured it was about time HE had to deal with the loud bus, the bad smell and the chaos of trying to herd feral cats through a museum.

Bug Boy is a wanderer. He doesn’t realize he does it. But he’s gotten lost in just about every public place we’ve ever been. He’s wandered off on EVERY school trip we’ve ever been on. For this reason, we’ve requested one parent accompany him on all trips or he must stay with a staff member, NOT another parent. They’ve always been more than happy to oblige. Because LAWSUIT!

This morning, despite the federal government shut down, we headed to the City of Brotherly Love for a field trip. While the federal buildings and parks (like Independence Hall and the Mint) was closed, the National Constitution Center was open because it’s privately funded. So PRIVATELY FUNDED FOR THE WIN! The plan was a double-decker bus tour of Center City, lunch in a local landmark and then the Constitution Center museum for a presentation and tour. That was the PLAN anyway.

The forecast today wasn’t great and we were due to get a deluge. They warned us to bring umbrellas and rain ponchos, which most people did. But the weather forecast should have been my first clue that it would be a trip that would live infamy. In other words, THE FIELD TRIP FROM HELL.

And if that wasn’t enough foreshadowing, perhaps the kid that puked in the back of the bus from motion sickness less than a mile from the school (on the same road, even!) would have clued us in that it would be a horrendous day. I’m thinking that didn’t bode well at all for our chances of survival. While the teachers scrambled to contain the puke to one row of seats (naturally, it ran underneath the seats while the bus was moving because OF COURSE) the kids screamed all crammed three to a seat to get away from the smell, we parents opened every window (remember! POURING RAIN!) and tried to contain the chaos. Naturally, half of the students were complaining of motion sickness by the time we arrived, due to the smelly, crowded school bus.

We arrived at Independence Mall and split into our groups. Half would do the bus tour first, half would do the museum. After lunch we’d switch. Simple enough, right? A two-hour bus tour of Philadelphia pointing out the sites. But the pouring rain meant the double decker was a no-go so the company sent Ghost Tour buses instead. Which were (wait for it) SCHOOL BUSES, painted to look fancy. So back onto two crowded, smelly, bumpy buses we went. With a bunch of motion-sick twelve-year-olds. What could possibly go wrong?

Two tour guides in period dress climbed the buses, spoke to the teachers and each took a bus. We ended up with a retired teacher dressed in a tricorn and buckle shoes. We started away on the bus and he immediately began pointing out landmarks and things to see. A block into the tour, it got really interesting.

“Look left. That is Independence Hall, the womb, the birth canal of our country, the birthplace of our nation.”

Womb. Birth canal. HELLO. THEY ARE TWELVE.

A few blocks later, “And here’s ChinaTown, see the red paint? It was mixed with pigs blood to give it that color. The Chinese sent us that gate to Chinatown, we sent them a replica Liberty Bell. Not sure if it’s made of metal or plastic but there’s no crack.”

Ohhhhkay then.

We passed Logan’s Square/Logan’s circle, where he pointed out a fancy fountain and said, “But it used the be the gallows. That’s where they hung people. But they started to prefer the electric chair for executions so they tore it down and put in this fountain.”

Very informative tour. Very.

We went around the art museum circle, he pointed out “a monastary, there are nuns there that never leave those walls,” and we pulled over to do the quintessential Rocky Run up the Art Museum Steps. Just as the skies opened up and dumped on us even harder. Back on the bus and on our way…

“See that brick building, kids?” (HELLOOOOOO We’re in a COLONIAL CITY founded in COLONIAL TIMES and it’s FULL OF BRICK BUILDINGS AND STUFF.) “Look left. Especially the ladies. That building was designed by a woman to resemble an aztec temple. Ladies, you should be proud of that building. Study science and math!”

Oh for Pete’s sake.

“Look right. There’s a memorial statue of the Jewish People during the Holocaust. They are in a pile because…uh…They were treated badly.”


A few blocks later, “And here we are in the theater and music district. Music has always been important in this city. Some of the famous musicians here were blah, blah, blah, and Patti Labelle. Patti Labelle was the QUEEN OF ROCK AND ROLL way back when we had REAL music.”

Yep. When I think of Patti LaBelle, I always think of rock and roll.

“And if you’ll look right, there’s a building that used to be the School for the Deaf and Dumb…”


“Look left, See those buildings over there? Well the architecture…”He droned on as we passed a bookstore with gay porn in the window, which is TOTALLY appropriate to be pointing out to twelve-year-old kids.

“Anyone here Jewish? Look left. This is a synagogue. A long time ago…”

I just don’t have words left.

“By the way, who has heard of the Three Stooges? Well, Larry was born RIGHT HERE ON THIS VERY STREET!” And it was met with blank stares from tweens that were all, “What’s the three stooges?”

A little later we were told to, “Look right! This here is a statue of Irish Immigrants when they came here during the potato famine (slightly historically inaccurate, but whatevs.) Anyone here Irish? These are your people.”

“Is anyone here Polish? Well…”

Get. Me. Off. This. Bus.

“Hey, I did a private tour a while back to a bunch of rich oil magnates…”


“And this concludes our tour!” THANK YOU DEAR, SWEET, BABY JEBUS THE BUS TOUR IS OVER!

But the trip wasn’t over yet. We had lunch in a local food court, rounded up the feral cats once more and were leave the building to go to the museum when the skies opened up AGAIN. I mean, major amounts of rain, people. Rivers going down the street. People huddled under every overhang they cold find. And us with 100 kids standing in the vestibule of the old building that housed the foodcourt, until security said, “Sorry, you can’t round up your kids and count them here. Move them outside.” Yeah. In the pouring rain. DID I MENTION IT WAS POURING? I was feeling Irish at that point (possible due to seeing the statue of my people) and volunteered to give security a what-for, but since I’m a former teacher I decided to set a good example and NOT get arrested for berating folks in public.

Out the door we went.

One hundred kids. Absolute deluge, couldn’t see a block away, it was that heavy. That’s when the wind picked up and began BLOWING THE RAIN SIDEWAYS. The umbrellas and ponchos were now useless, as we herded the feral cats across several streets and back to the Constitution Center, through ankle deep water we couldn’t avoid (because the street was flooded). We had limited time in the museum, got the kitties back on the buses and started back to school…

…where we got stuck in traffic on the highway. On a bus full of tweens, that smelled like puke, and couldn’t open every window to air it out.

But my fun wasn’t over yet.

When I finally got home from the Field Trip From Hell I collapsed onto the couch for a few minutes but I knew I had some kitchen clean up to do before Bugaboo got from from school. I begrudgingly shuffled into the kitchen, moved a crock pot, picked up a pie pumpkin from the counter to begin cooking to make a pie and SPLOOSH.

Rotten pumpkin guts. All over the floor, dishwasher, refrigerator, sink, me…

I win at today.

9 thoughts on “Field Trip!

  1. Susan Buccella says:

    I don’t know which bus i would have yakked on the first or the second! i do hope you sleep tonight girl!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I for one, had an afternoon of delight with your FB updates. xo

  3. I for one, had an afternoon of delight with your FB updates. xo

  4. katinpa13 says:

    Marj, that is insane! Birth canal? Look left ladies? You must put all this in a book someday.

  5. Mom2MissK says:

    I guess carying a flask on field trips would be frowned upon. But you totally deserve one… Engraved with your initials, even!

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