It’s interesting being home in the middle of a “work day”. The neighborhood is totally different between 8-5. Until recently, I was at the bank during these hours and missed this time slot at home – unless I was sick in which case I was drugged on Nyquil. I love Nyquil. Although it makes me do crazy things sometimes…
Until I left my banking job, I never realized a yellow school bus drives down our street around 3:30 every afternoon. I find this strange in the inner city where we live, but I suppose this is very necessary – kids in Dallas are bussed all over the city in over 1,700 yellow school buses. I just never much thought about it. I always equate school buses to little rural schools out in the country – like where I grew up.
Did you ride a school bus? I’m not referring to weekly basketball games with the team or the annual field trip to the zoo, but EverySingleDay in Elementary School? Because you lived out in the boonies? I was envious of those kids who lived in town. They were so lucky to walk to school. I wanted to move into town to the new Keiser housing project and walk with my friends. Not fair!
My bus driver:)
Riding the bus was traumatic. On the first day of school, my mother and I followed along in her car behind the bus the entire route, so that I would know exactly where Mr. Robinson was taking me each afternoon, before dropping me off at home. My mother was a saint to do this. Driving all over Mississippi County gravel roads eating bus dust for at least an hour and a half, while I’m sure I was begging to be home schooled. Had I only known about home schooling… After that first day – or maybe she did it for a week – I was forced to grit my teeth and ride the bus.
My bus route changed slightly from year to year. Why, I’m not sure? Maybe a ditch flooded and a road was completely washed away changing the school district boundaries?? There were several years that I was the first person picked up – before sunrise. I watched for the bus from the back porch off the kitchen. I stood there and scribbled on the door frame in No. 2 pencil, “I am so sleepy”. My mother left my mark there for a long time before re-painting. I waited and watched each morning, nauseous the entire time, silently praying that Mr. Robinson had flipped the bus into Clide Barnett’s wheat field in the 7 minutes between school and my house. I didn’t want him to be injured or anything – I really liked Mr. Robinson – but I hated that school bus. But it always showed up, driving down Highway 140 in the dark, those unmistakeable bus lights glowing in the distance. I walked as slowly as possibly down our lonnnngggg driveway like it was a death march with my mother standing on the carport in her robe yelling, “Hurry! You’re gonna miss the bus!” I knew I couldn’t be that lucky. I just knew it was a matter of time before one of those rickety bridges we crossed would collapse with me inside. It was simple math.
|These kids were late for school.|
After school, the route was reversed, and I was the very last child to leave the bus, well after dark, getting home after the evening news. It sucked. Never mind that the bus turned north onto Highway 101 ten yards from my house! I could see my house. I could practically touch my house! I was not allowed to get off until we circled the entire county and looped back on Highway 140 directly in front of my driveway. I wanted to scream every afternoon “Let me off!!! My house is right there!” as we turned in the opposite direction. I could have an extra hour and a half to watch I Dream of Jeannie or Gilligan or read. I considered opening that emergency door in the back of the bus but would an alarm sound?
WHAT, pray tell, was my mother doing during this time? Why couldn’t she drive me to school? A mere 7 minute drive – 14 round trip – compared to 3 hours per day I was spending in that dusty bus!!! I knew very well that she drove to Keiser every single day for groceries and gossip… She could easily do that in the morning after dropping me off. I was totally on to her. Later, when I became a mother of two small children, I understood that this was, of course, extra free baby sitting time for my mother, courtesy of the MissCo School District. But I’m still just a tad bitter.
Some years for whatever reason, I was the last person picked up in the morning. This allowed me more time to sleep, which was a nice perk; however, by the time I boarded, the bus was crammed packed with wild kids – some had been on the bus for nearly 2 hours – and there was no place to even think about sitting. For a shy kid like me, this was distressing. I only had to brace my legs and hold on to the back of a seat for 7 minutes, trying my best not to fall into the nasty aisle. Add to this, the certain group of mean girls (who shall remain nameless), who rifled through my purse every single morning and stole my milk money. Sometimes I just handed over my milk money each morning as I boarded – like bus fare. I hated milk anyway. But I hid my lunch money in my saddle oxford so the mean girls would not know. I loved lunch. Mr. Robinson, our bus driver, had to know this was going on, but he let us deal with our own issues. Kids fought their own battles then…not that I ever fought.
With this LIFO bus route, they finally let me get off first in the afternoon at that Highway 101 intersection. I walked through the ditch and over into our yard, adding months and possibly years to my life. I would gladly let the mean girls have my purse each morning to get home by 4:00 instead of 6:00.
Today, as that bus drives by my house each afternoon I wonder about those kids inside. The buses are probably different now with cameras for the driver to maintain control. Those kids probably each have an iPhone which keeps them busy playing Angry Birds and texting. Or maybe they too are traumatized trying to keep their seat mate from stealing their $250 Livestrong Air Max Nikes.
Brownsville Station, “Smokin’ in the Boy’s Room”
Cat Stevens, “Old Schoolyard”