Just a warning, it is 3 a.m., so if I start to ramble in here, please cut me some slack. It's funny how we take things for granted during the off-season. In this two-part series I will discuss some of the small things that can put big smiles on the faces of drum corps kids everywhere. The simple act of purchasing a cheeseburger may seem like nothing now, but while you're on tour, it's a totally different story.

Paula Hyman (left) and Laura Westmoreland
First off, unlike in the _real world, you can't just hop in your car and do as you please when you are touring the country with a drum corps. We are busy rehearsing, performing, and traveling, so free days and leisurely fast food stops are usually few and far between. One could only imagine that while on tour, a drum corps member would try to seize each and every opportunity for fast food that is humanly possible -- and I make sure to do that every season. Don't ask me how, but for some reason, I think I can remember just about every fast food restaurant that I've eaten during the summer over the years -- probably because it was such an adventure getting there. Now there are either restaurants or gas stations that you have to search for in a new town, or there are places that you know will be there due to past experience. It's pretty awesome pulling into a school that you've rehearsed at in years past, and knowing exactly what eating establishments are around the corner. A lot of times, these places are hidden, so unless you've been there before, or someone is nice and tells you, they would be nearly impossible to find in time to actually eat there.

For instance, there is a school in Pennsylvania that we usually stay at before DCI East. This past year we returned there for a glorious two days of rehearsal. It was getting close to lunch, and some of us knew that just beyond the front sideline, behind the tall bushes and trees, there was a Burger King hiding. So as soon as we got dismissed, my friend Adrian and I put on our backpacks, grabbed our water coolers, and made our way through the brush like David the Gnome, horns in hand. I'm sure people were wondering what we were doing. I mean, the food truck was in the complete opposite direction, over a bridge, across the street, and around the side of the school. It was quite the walk -- too bad we didn't have to take it, hahaha! Mikey and Chris found their way to the Burger King as well -- in fact I think they were trailing behind us. It was perfect. We were in and out of there like bandits and had plenty of time to relax before our next block started. We even filled up our coolers with icy cold water in the restaurant -- magnificent. The summer before that, in Beloit, Wis., you could actually see the Burger King sign from the field, so it was a pretty painful rehearsal at times. This was a pretty funny trip because we all had our horns with us since we knew if we didn't go straight there, the line would be way too long. We walked in and while we were waiting in line, some random scary guy walked up to my friend Jared and said, "Is that a trumpet?" Jared: Yeah
Random Guy: Man I used to play one of those!
Jared: That's great sir.
Random Guy: Yeah! Then the next thing you know, this guy grabs Jared's trumpet out of his hand and tries to play something (he may have hit a note in there somewhere) and says, "Yeah, I still got it." Wow. Yes, you've still got it -- although I'm not sure exactly what "it" is. Anyway, it was pretty funny. Anyway, back to 2004, Pennsylvania. Also adjacent to this school was a Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin Robbins. We usually have a Hopkins meeting at this school after rehearsal is over, so a little milkshake or something would be nice, eh? Well, I just remember each year running to this Dunkin' Donuts and running back to the meeting, frosty beverage in hand, trying not to be late. Surprisingly I was successful. I guess you could say that those of us who take these risks are champions. But hey, we're risk takers, we live on the edge. This kind of stuff also happens after shows. Now this is usually much more stressful than trying to grab something to eat during lunch. Sometimes you'll hear word of a gas station or fast food place while you're socializing around the buses in the parking lot after a show. When that happens, it's usually time to drop everything and find this place. Now, the Cadets don't normally spend too much time hanging around after shows. It's usually really late, and we have to get to the next city, so our max time in the lot on average is about an hour. That includes getting out of uniform, putting it away, practicing some, etc. So basically, there isn't much time to find whatever place we're looking for, but it's of course a risk that some of us are willing to take. I remember one specific instance last summer -- I don't remember what show we were at, but it was a drum major-only retreat, I remember that much. Some of us heard that there was a Sonic somewhere near the stadium. I, of course, was in -- ready to take a chance. There was only one problem. My usual partner in crime, LAURA ANN WESTMORELAND (yes Laura, I_m calling you out -- what are you going to do about it?), refused to go. She said in her southern drawl, "There is no way you're going to make it there and get food in time!" Now I could be wrong, but the way that I remember it, was that she finally broke down and decided to come along with me, as well as another champion, Kyle Fleming. Now we didn't have much time to work with, so we started running, not really knowing where we were going. We followed the crowds and eventually found this Sonic. Unfortunately for us, so did all of the other drum corps at this show! Anyway, Kyle, the mystery person (I'm not sure, upon reflection, if it was actually Laura) and I didn't have much time to work with, but ordered food anyway. We waited for a while and eventually the mystery person decided to run back to the bus because there wasn't enough time. However, Kyle and I pushed on for about another 10 minutes and then we gave up. We had to abandon our order and run back to the bus in order to not be those guys who were late. I refuse to be "That Guy Who Is Late" and makes the whole corps wait for them. It was a failed mission -- possibly my first, but it was all right. At least we tried. Kyle is awesome -- we also went on a quest to find food one night during the Tour of Champions. We were really cutting it close this time, having to run back in the dark probably about a mile, to get to the buses. As I was running back, I was thinking about how dumb we were
-- running through the dark carrying bags and wearing flip-flops. We could have broken our ankles or something. But we were successful this time around and it was well worth it! All right, I have to work in the morning, so tune in next week for "All The Small Things: Part dos" or something like that. Have a great week! Paula Hyman is a fourth-year member of the Cadets where she is the mellophone section leader. She is 20 years old and currently single. Originally from South Florida, Paula recently made the move to Allentown, Pa., to work for YEA!, the umbrella organization of the Cadets, Crossmen and the U.S. Scholastic Band Association. She ages out in 2006.