It could have been a glorious morning. Birds chirping, a warm breeze rustling the leaves on this bright, sunny day. It could have been one of those lovely, easy mornings – but we slept late. We just stepped foot onto the porch when we heard the sound of the school bus barreling down our country line. My kids picked up the pace into full run when they didn’t hear her slowing. I hadn’t ventured off the porch – I was still braless in a t-shirt and my husband’s boxers with rat nest hair and unbrushed teeth. I only had time to hastily pack lunches, and be sure my kids had a flash breakfast of champions consisting of a yogurt drink with a side of peanut butter right off the spoon.
I figured the morning was getting better – my kids would make it – even though the driver whizzed past the driveway, half the bus hollered a late-running-kid alert and she screeched to a stop. The whole bus cheered and I caught a glimpse of my kids running the 30 feet down the road past our place to catch their ride. I was relieved – they made it, and I could expect to spend my day writing without interruption. That’s when I heard her – the driver – screeching voice wafting out the bus windows like a fast-moving river above the trees and across more than the acre of lawn between her and my front porch.
The whoops and hollers of joyful June children greeting my kids’ late arrival simmered down to a dull murmur.
“I MEAN IT! WHO IS EATING?”
The murmur settled into complete silence, short of the rattle of the idling bus. Nobody was giving up anything. These country kids don’t sing like a canary, they stick together like peanut butter on a stainless steel spoon. Just like the one my daughter had run down the driveway carrying as her second helping of breakfast. I could only hope she remembered to pitch the empty (or not) spoon on the pine garbage box at the end of our drive before jumping onto the food Nazi’s bus.
“THERE IS NO EATING ON THE BUS, AND IF I FIND OUT WHO IT WAS, YOU ARE KICKED OFF THE BUS FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR!”
The bus jerked and jolted into drive, and off they went on their merry way to school. I stood there on the porch, dumbfounded, my golden at my feet looking up at me with perked ears and worried eyes. He was not impressed either. And I comforted his concern with the first words that came to mind.
“What a bitch, eh Maalik?” He agreed.
The question I have, is this. Why – oh mighty lord of the bus routes – why would anyone choose to drive a bus full of kids if they don’t have the patience of a Saint, two hearing aids, or a great sense of humour? I’d never be a bus driver – you couldn’t pay me enough. And frankly – they probably aren’t paid enough for the job that they do – but either are teachers or police officers or nursing home workers – but it doesn’t mean just anyone should do those jobs. If you don’t love the job, why the hell would you submit yourself to daily doses of rambunctious kids? I understand the need to make a buck – I really get it – we all have to eat, even if it’s just spoonfuls of peanut butter. We aren’t all scholars with tenure, our butts eased into a cushy leather chair in our office. But, you can expect loud, bratty kids on a bus (even seated with nothing in their mouths), so if that isn’t your idea of a good gig, go get a job at Wal-Mart or Tim Horton’s or a recycling centre. Don’t take an “easy” job because you don’t have the time, training, determination or the good fortune of having your first choice career in an air-conditioned office or in a kid-free zone. If you lose your cool easily, or would rather be anywhere than at the wheel of a big yellow hell-mobile, I’d prefer you didn’t take my kids along for one of your road rages.
Needless to say, I’ve already made my voice heard with the bus-powers that be, because she wasn’t the only bitch with a bone to pick on our country line this morning.