It’s that time of year again – kids coming to DC on school trips, their first ventures into a real city without Mom and Dad. The parent chaperones who drew the black spot when it was time to find volunteers started out hopeful but have become weary through the trip and now just want to find a liquor store.
Imagine being 13, dragging your half-asleep ass off the tour bus and seeing me as the first life form in DC since you left Schenectady this morning. Or Allentown. Whatever. Your parents signed you up for an educational experience and Mr. Rodarte, that nerdy kid’s father, has been yelling at everyone to settle down and be quiet for the past seven hours. He especially wants to know which child keeps making “that noise” everyone except him keeps laughing at.
I was waiting at Judiciary Square for my lovely wife and got overrun by two busloads of slack-jawed middle school kids. No doubt, they took me as a bum, since I sported all the things they were familiar with from after school specials about homelessness – an old torn coat, old beat to hell work boots and black trousers – all the better to hide dirt, even though I knew they were a little past due for the laundry.
In reality, I was ready to go down in the tunnels of the Metro system to take part in their rail safety Citizen Corps program, but these young people today don’t know Citizen Corps from mashed potatoes. Each one of the kids made eye contact with me and quickly looked away upon meeting my steely gaze. I was dressed like that so as not to booger up my regular work clothes, which are not really that much nicer but are good enough that I did not want to take them into the sooty tunnel.
So to those kids who are new arrivals here, visitors to our fine city for some school-related educational trip, I welcome you. If I could, I would personally greet every single one of you at every tour bus stop around town with the same gaze I gave my young friends the other day.
We love the tourists here in DC. Even the wide-eyed impressionable ones who claim that everything sucks and that Mr. Rodarte is being unfair. Welcome, kid. I hope you like our city. Have some fun, spend some money and don’t worry about your chaperones. Once you enter the work world you will find that almost every job has a Mr. Rodarte who uses public humiliation and threats to control you. (See this recent example from my own life.)The upside? Even as an adult you can make those noises that piss him off.
This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs