Chaperoning a trip to the zoo with no air conditioning

When my daughter’s class planned a field trip to the zoo, I volunteered to chaperone.

It sounded like a wonderful opportunity to spend time with my little girl and get to know her friends.

It never occurred to me that we would make the journey in a school bus. The bus was not equipped with air conditioning. The windows openly opened an inch for safety reasons. Between the ancient shocks, overheated conditions and 60 minute drive, I arrived at the zoo with a terrible migraine. Since the field trip was scheduled for the second week of June, the day was hot and sticky. The temperature was somewhere in the mid eighties, and the afternoon sunshine was brutal. There was no shade to be found. I figured out that the reptile house, aquarium and the gift store were the only air conditioned spaces. My group spent the majority of our time in those locations. I offered each of the girls ten dollars to spend at the gift store and told them to take their time browsing. I was in no hurry to leave the air conditioning and step back outside into the intense heat, overwhelming humidity and horrible smells of the zoo. At the end of the day, when I was coated in sweat, sunburned and miserable, it was time to step back onto the bus. The ride home was even worse than the initial drive. I couldn’t wait to exit that bus, crawl into my car and blast the air conditioning. When I finally made it home, I poured myself a gigantic glass of wine and lowered my thermostat setting. I felt that I deserved it. I also decided to never volunteer for another school field trip.


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