From my “computer window” I look down at a fairly busy main street. Mornings are especially busy. This morning, it seemed to be the morning of school buses. Dozens of them. They just kept rolling along… on the morning journeys that school buses take.
I remember way back when I was a school bus rider, in junior high school, traveling that very same road on that very same journey each morning. I hated the bus. Hated. Hated. Hated. I hated the huge steps. I hated the narrow aisles. I hated the the boys who sat at the back of the bus and taunted the girls they perceived as undesirable and the boys they perceived as weaker than them. I hated the school bus driver who never intervened when some kid was being picked on… abused, really. I hated the spit balls and gum and wads of paper. I hated how she just sat there in her seat, staring ahead, glancing in that big old rear-view school bus mirror just long enough to not see anything. I remember the small green vinyl seats where one person and one book bag hardly fit and that same bus driver yelling, “All the way back and 3 in every seat.” Impossible. I remember the agonizing exhaust fumes and the bitter cold or rain from the windows opened by those same boys… and still the bus driver said nothing. I remember the smoke from the cigarettes from these same boys, smoke circling the bus like sickening vines. My ride to school was a long one. Often, in traffic, it took 45 minutes to get to school.
I hated the junior high school bus.
I hated it so much.
It’s funny how I had pretty much forgotten about those morning journeys until I saw all of those buses this morning. I had put those memories into a little box and stored them all the way back in my mind.
But it’s interesting that those school bus memories did shape the person I would become. As a teacher, I was always aware of the kid who was picked on. I was always aware of the bullies. This dynamic is apparent just about everywhere we go. School. Work. Families. Maybe that school bus ride was just preparation for life…
Because there is always, too, that person in authority who does nothing. The school bus driver who sees all in that big old mirror, but sees nothing.
I thought about this today. I thought about the kids on those buses. I thought about life…