Exterminator, Snow White, Eliminator …’quarter-millions’ that were not to be taken by the faint of heart!!! Schoolboys jumping through windows, girls stampeding doors…Remember riding the bus in Jamaica.
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Exterminator, Snow White, Eliminator …’quarter-millions’ that were not to be taken by the faint of heart!!! Schoolboys jumping through windows, girls stampeding doors…ahhhh …what a site it was to behold. Yet what was it about these buses that drove youngsters into such a frenzied state?!! Was it:

  • The flashy paintwork
  • The possibility of hearing every song that was labeled either X-Rated or Not For Air Play
  • That the principals of all the “all-girls” high schools in the Cross Roads area forbade the pupils to set foot in these ‘vehicles of debasement’
  • All of the above

Full marks if you chose all of the above! By simply taking these buses one was able to fulfill the somewhat natural teenage urge to rebel, talk to the cute boy/girl one had noticed (and who had hopefully noticed you too!!!), plus immerse oneself in the ‘popular music culture’ of the day (yeah…right!!!). To put a simple explanation on the phenomenon …it was all about the vibes.

What average teenager could resist the ‘invigorating’ start to the school day that these buses offered? Music blasting at levels to stir the dead, drivers showing their ‘skill’ by racing and going around corners on two wheels! One was most definitely alert after being driven in such a ‘style’. This kind of excitement was not confined to the ‘morning ride’ however, but was evident in the evenings at well. Indeed the evening ride could be described as the one that had even more vibes! This was largely due to the high level of activity that took place after school and prior to the actual ‘departure’ from school and the ‘boarding’ of these flights (ooops… I mean buses… even though sometimes you really had to wonder!).

Bathrooms buzzed with activity, thronged with girls who simply had to get that ‘cool’ look on their faces before going to the bus stop. Heaven forbid that they should be seen with a shiny face as if they were sporting oil to fry a dozen eggs! No, no, no…it was all about looking good (i.e. combing down ‘di baby hair’ onto the forehead!), and smelling good. The most terrible thing that you could ever do was go to the restroom after school and hope to wash your hands “after” (we shan’t be saying after ‘what’ …just “after”). Absolutely nothing was able to interrupt once the titivating process had begun.

This preparation activity was not only undertaken by the girls…oh no. The boys did their fair share as well…washing faces, popping open an extra button on the shirt to expose their chest (though largely ‘chicken chests’), sporting colored rags in the back pants pocket, and ensuring that the insignia of their British Knights shoes was carefully showing. What Nike does for the image today, British Knights did for boys in those days.

All this meticulous preening and pruning was standard issue if it was your desire to fully capitalize on the ‘social landscape’ that was opened on buses such as Exterminator and Snow White. One simply had to feel and look one’s best in order to revel in the “end of the school day party” which these buses did surely provide.

For those of you who may be curious as to where the author stands (or in which buses she sat!!!), let me state that I was one of those ‘oily-faced realists’ who didn’t believe in waiting on a ‘special bus’. I simply took the first bus that was ready to leave. I was able to look beyond paint job, music, etc. and see public transportation for what it really was…a means of getting home as quickly as possible so I could settle in and watch my favourite cartoon, Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors!

This article is based solely on my observations and recollection.

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NadineChambers