Auntie Em's Guide to Life

A guide to all the important things in life- marriage, family, cooking, gardening, reading, travel, Christian living… And whatever else grabs my attention!

Might as Well Laugh About it Now; or The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

on April 28, 2013

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”  As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes… James 4:13-16

Might as Well Laugh About it NowI just had a lesson in making plans then adapting to Plan B. Or C. Or even D! It showed me how little control we really have, and reminded me more than ever how much we need to rely on God in every moment.

You may know I teach a high school choir. Every spring, we take a trip where we sing at a competition then do some fun activities. We usually stay 1 night, take a charter bus, and the kids bring home big trophies and have a good time. But this time, things went from bad to worse; my friend and coworker Lara and I would just look at each other in disbelief and shake our heads. After a few more days we will laugh about it.

This year I had gotten an estimate in the fall from my local bus company that I normally use, but neglected to send them the “hold” money. By the time I realized it they were booked up. I called about a bazillion other companies and contacted my choir director friends about recommendations. Late April is a very popular time to travel because I had a very hard time finding anybody! I thought my problem was solved, however, when US Coachways said they could fix me up. I secured a bus with my credit card on April 18 and corresponded with my agent several times over the next few days. Then on the 23rd- THREE days before I was supposed to take 53 people 300 miles from home– they called and said actually, they didn’t have a bus for me after all. The buses are filled on a first-come, first-served basis, and apparently, I wasn’t first! (She also assured me that my credit card had not and would not be charged, and it has; I’m working to get that reversed now, but that’s another story!)

So after more calls, I got one secured with The Bus Bank. The agent I dealt with was very helpful and very professional. I think how it must work is that they contract local companies, because we ended up with a “Tierra Nueva” bus from Houston. With a driver who didn’t speak or apparently understand much English. And didn’t have a GPS. And had a really bad sense of direction. And a bus with torn up seats. (Really). And no trash bag. And a DVD player that worked only when one of our students jiggled wires several times. And no toilet paper in the bathroom. And (at least by the time I used it the 2nd day) no water to flush said toilet.  And not enough fuel to get us to our destination. He had a flat tire and got lost coming to pick us up at the school and was an hour and a half late. He stopped en route for fuel at a Love’s gas station with an Arby’s, announcing that everyone needed to get off, and it would take only about 20 minutes. We had already changed the lunch plans from The Shops at La Cantera to Bucee’s, but ended up eating there because there was no time.

Once we got there, things were pretty uneventful except that Lara had to sit in the navigator seat with her phone GPS and direct the driver EVERYWHERE we went. We were late to our performance, but fortunately their schedule wasn’t too tight and it didn’t mess them up. (The kids did great!) We missed out on eating in Boerne, where the competition was, and went on to La Cantera for supper and had a great time. Then we went to the Hyatt Wildoak Ranch (a timeshare and hotel) which I heartily recommend! The kids loved the indoor/outdoor pools; I loved our balcony porch, and the rooms were beautiful. Saturday we went to Fiesta Texas which the kids seemed to love, but I did not. 7 hours at a noisy, crowded amusement park with 2 1/2 hours of waiting for 2 three-minute rides is not my idea of fun. Ugh.

You must know that even when everything goes smoothly, these trips are very difficult for me. I am a terrible homebody anyway; I hate to be away from Mr X, and I don’t do late nights. All these things are serious stressors to me. I always pray that I won’t embarrass Jesus. This trip truly was a test LOL! (Funny that my post about Patience at A Biblical Marriage had just been published the very same day we left!)

Once our driver found his way out of the parking lot of Fiesta Texas, we were on our way. Before we had gone 20 miles he stopped the bus 3 times, finally stopping at a gas station and calling for another bus! I told the kids, “Oh boy! We get to stop at another gas station!” They were huddled around electrical outlets like herds of antelope around a watering hole in the Serengeti, charging their phones. The driver said he got something or other fixed and the bus would be good to go now. I hoped that was true, but told the agent to keep looking for a bus just in case!

Inside the gas station one of my boys asked me, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how mad are you?” And I realized that I wasn’t mad at all! I had absolutely no control over the situation. None. I told him if our bus can’t make it home, the company can send us another bus or put us up in Houston for the night. You know, the serenity prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept that which I cannot change… Weeping and gnashing my teeth, or pitching a fit wouldn’t have made a difference in the situation; it just would have made Jesus look bad.

As we finally approached to school, close to 2 hours later than scheduled, one of our chaperones moved down to the navigator chair , to make sure the driver didn’t get lost again! As he pulled into the parking lot, the bus died and he coasted to a parking place. Seriously!

I was reminded that In all things, God works for the good of those that love Him and are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28) The next time I got on Facebook I read stories of horrible thunderstorms and flooding in Houston. If we had not spent an hour stopping  to work on a crippled bus, we might have been there during the thick of it, instead of light rain. The bus didn’t die until we got back to school. I didn’t lose my cool or fall apart. I prayed a lot. The bus driver handled the bus very well and safely. (even if he couldn’t find his way out of a parking lot) My kids behaved beautifully and had fun. We had parents who went with us and helped a lot. I’m continuing to make myself focus on the GOOD and not the BAD or the UGLY!

The Good

wild oak ranch fireplace wild oak ranch view boys girls

The Bad (is this blood?)

blood on chair

The Ugly

blood on chair more rip rip

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12 responses to “Might as Well Laugh About it Now; or The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

  1. Leslie R. says:

    Sometimes living in Texas can be a ‘third world experience.’ Especially where buses are concerned. Congrats to your choir.

  2. Auntie Em, I took students to SA on a school van, and it was stolen from a parking lot before we could even check into our hotel! We rode the little SA trolleys back and forth to our meetings, and then the chaperones all rented cars to transport the kiddos home. They had to sit on top of each other to fit into the cars, but we made it!

  3. Missy says:

    That is one heckuva travel disaster story. But, I love your attitude! Attitude really is everything, isn’t it? Popping over from The Domestic Fringe’s Saturday Night Stars. Your trip is a testament to the fruit of patience in you. :)

  4. Visiting from Domestic Fringe — I think the worst thing in the world would be being in charge of a field trip. Let alone an OVERNIGHT Field trip! You did good! And it always helps to be reminded just who IS in charge…

  5. Debbie says:

    I appreciate your honesty and attitude—despite the frustrations, you handled the situations with grace, not embarrassing Jesus a bit! (what an extra long trip you had!)

  6. Oh, my! What a trip. I bet you’ll never forget that one, or forget to secure the right bus company very early in the school year.

    You’ve got such a fabulous attitude about it. I’m afraid I would have been extremely frustrated and mad. What a great example you were to those kids. Bravo!

    Thanks for linking to Saturday Night Stars! Hope you’ll join us again next week.
    ~FringeGirl

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