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Hope vs. Reality

Trey Reely | December 2013

    I have a clear vision of how the perfect marching contest day should be go.

Ideal Marching Contest Day Diary
6:15 a.m.: Check the local weather. No chance of rain. Temperature for the final rehearsal and contest will be a mild 65 degrees with a slight breeze.
6:20 a.m.: Read newspaper while eating Lucky Charms.
7:00 a.m.: Leave for work, passing through three consecutive green lights.
7:20 a.m.: No morning duty.
8:30 a.m.: Club pictures for the yearbook begin. I was assured earlier in the week that they will be over by my 11:00 a.m. marching rehearsal.
8:40 a.m.: Beginning band. The energy and enthusiasm of young players is inspiring. “Go Tell Aunt Rhodie” is played with great passion.
9:27 a.m.: Prep period, spent gathering supplies and equipment for the trip.
10:55 a.m.: Club pictures end.
11:00 a.m.: Final marching band rehearsal begins. Everyone is present. The review of the show is efficient, students are focused, and the run-through goes without a hitch.
Lunch: The school cafeteria has chicken teriyaki for lunch. Cafeteria worker piles it on. Mmmm.
2:00 p.m.: Band is dismissed from class. Students put on uniforms. Equipment is all loaded onto band truck.
2:45 p.m.: Bus arrives.
3:00 p.m.: Bus departs and travels three miles to contest site.
3:15 p.m.: Band unloads without incident.
3:45 p.m.: Warmup.
4:10 p.m.: Band performs up to full potential remembering everything I’ve emphasized.
8:00 p.m.: Drive home with First Division trophy clutched by the drum major in front seat.
10:00 p.m.: At home in bed sleeping with a smile on my face.
Unfortunately, my view of a perfect day rarely lines up with actual events.
Actual Marching Contest Day Diary
4:30 a.m.: Wake up and glance at iPhone to see what time it is. I should feel sleepy but am wide awake. A text message from a parent says her trumpet-playing son will not be at school today and will not be attending the contest. No reason is attached. I smell a rat.
4:30-6:00: I try to sleep but spend time considering alternatives.
6:00 a.m.: Get up and check the weather. There is a 50/50 rain chance all day and evening with a major drop in temperature expected as a cold front moves through.
6:30 a.m.: Text the parent asking why her son will not be at school. No response.
Breakfast: There is no milk, but it doesn’t matter. Fiber cereal the only thing left anyway.
7:10 a.m.: Leave for work, catching each red light – the last one three times. What a difference ten minutes can make.
7:25 a.m.: Sneak in the back way for morning duty. Break up a fight between two seniors big enough to play for the Packers.
7:45 a.m.: Finally receive a text back from parent. She says it is her son’s 18th birthday, and he will not be at school or the contest because she has a birthday party planned for him that evening.
7:46 a.m.: I fight off a major stroke and text a carefully worded, but firm response about consequences. The mother says her son will be at school and the contest.
9:27 a.m.: Club pictures begin late despite assurances from the powers-that-be.
11:05 a.m.: Final band rehearsal begins. Ten members of the Fishing Club are missing because of club pictures.
11:08 a.m.: Fishing Club members return. Nine leave for Robotics Team picture.
11:23 a.m.: Robotics Team returns. Six leave for Pep Club.
11:48 a.m.: Pep Club members return. Twelve leave for senior class photo.
11:50 a.m.: Run through show.
Lunch: For lunch I gobble down two beef sticks that we are selling as a fundraiser.
1:00 p.m.: Temperature begins to plunge. eventually reaching 30 degrees.
2:00 p.m.: The secretary forgets to dismiss band members from class by intercom. I call to remind her to make the announcement.
2:01 p.m.: Assistant band director calls and says equipment truck will not start.
3:25 p.m.: School bus mechanic gets truck running.
3:30 p.m.: Bus arrives late. Volleyball team has taken the large passenger bus by mistake. Band students are piled onto the smaller bus like cordwood. Load the truck in record time. I hope that we have everything.
3:45 p.m.: Unload quickly. Missing items: Bass drummer left a carrier at school. Trumpet player claims his mouthpiece has disappeared. (I surmise spontaneous combustion.) Borrow both items from host band.
4:10 p.m.: Band performs up to full potential remembering everything I’ve emphasized despite frost-bitten fingers and lips.
8:00 p.m.: Band equipment truck will not start and is eventually locked down. Bus starts on the third try.
8:10 p.m.: Drive home with First Division trophy clutched by the drum major in front seat.
10:00 p.m.: A parent finally picks up the last remaining student.
11:00 p.m.: At home in bed sleeping with a smile on my face.
What can I say? I like happy endings.