by Angier Brock
I have a friend who tells the story that when she was a teen-ager, her parents gave her a car, a pale yellow convertible. She immediately vowed that whenever she was driving that car, she would never meet a school bus she would not pass.
A certain reckless teen-aged vanity is, to be sure, writ large in that impulse—the kind of blind self-absorption and nervy sense of infallibility we would all do well to outgrow so that the world might be a safer place. And yet, something exhilarating is also present in the image of a young woman in her yellow convertible, top down, hair flying, determined to pass any and every school bus on the road. Her vitality, her delight in her new-found freedom and independence, her unabashed pleasure in the goal she had set for herself, her confidence in her sense of timing, her youthful determination not to be slowed down by anything as mundane as the plodding of a school bus—those aspects of my friend’s story make me smile every time I remember it, which I do often at this time of year when School Bus Season is beginning afresh.
Probably most of us reading this blog do not ride school buses these days—though we may have children, grandchildren, or neighbor children who do. Probably most of us do encounter school buses, though, if we go out driving on local roads just as schools are opening or letting out for the day.
Driving behind a school bus is not my favorite circumstance. Many is the time I have wished I could have passed one before it stopped at a railroad crossing or one of the places where riders get on or off. This fall, however, I am adopting a new school bus-related goal. Rather that deplore being “stuck” behind them and thinking of them as obstructions to my own self-absorbed hurry, I am going to remember what they truly are: vehicles that carry the future, the young people whose lives are set to outstrip my own.
To honor and respect the journey of the school bus riders, when I see a school bus (even when I get stuck behind one), I will say a little prayer for its passengers. May they be treated with dignity and respect each day, whether at school, on the bus, or at home. May they, like my friend when she was a girl, take delight in the freedoms into which they are growing. And may they learn all they need to become the wise and compassionate healers, peace-makers, farmers, artisans and artists, teachers, and leaders our world needs.
I will also say a prayer for the school bus drivers. If ever there were a job deserving of appreciation, theirs is one! And, for myself? I will give thanks for yet another opportunity in which to practice some deep breathing—and some patience.