Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Driving Bus No. 6

I've been driving Bus No. 6 for almost 17 years. It's not my main job, it's just what I do in the morning to get me warmed up for a full day of teaching and how I let off steam in the afternoon so I don't go home and kick a cat.

My wife hates it when I even THINK about kicking the cats.

I kind of enjoy driving my bus. The students are really not all that bad, I have a pretty route, and the extra money keeps my family eating more than just beans on toast. Of course, I realize that it's not for everyone -- most people hate the idea of driving a bus because of how it's portrayed on TV and in the movies, or how assaults are caught on security cameras and beamed right into your living room via the nightly news just when you're starting to enjoy your evening beef and potatoes TV dinner, complete with the pert near homemade apple strudel on the side -- but it suits me just fine.

I've been driving my route for so long now, I've created names for different "points of interest" along my journey (mostly because I can't remember the street numbers). Let me describe it for you:

First, I drive my bus through the Eye of the Needle, and whether I survive or not, I end up at the Purley Gates. I take the Short Cut to the Castle, turn around and go through The Spooky Woods, over to the Goat Farm, back through The Cow Pasture and head up the road to the Loveliest House on the Hill. From there I zig zag through Tornado Alley, drive through the Rabbit's Den, turn right at the Tree In The Middle of the Road (which isn't there anymore because it died), go past the Horse Ranch, down Blind Man's Alley, take a left through the White Fences, past the cemetery, go for a ride on Dead Man's Rollercoaster, which takes me back to the main highway. I turn around at McCurdy's Catfish and Burgers, turn right into Pelican Bay, and if I make it through there alive, pick up my last riders on Liberty Lane and head north back through The Eye of the Needle.

I pass by four cemeteries, go through a working cow pasture, get to see peacocks, dairy cows, deer, wild boars, rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, vultures, an occasional donkey in the road, and I even think I saw a young bald eagle once, but it was hard to tell because I was driving a bus.

One time (and I swear this is true),  a herd of cows were lined up at the cattle guard blocking the entrance to The Cow Pasture, just daring me to cross. It looked like a football defensive line, except they weren't wearing helmets or jerseys. Of course I was bigger, and yellow, so they had to move. But I'll let you know they pooped enough poop on the road that teachers at the school commented about smelling my bus five miles before I even got to the school.

"Boy, we could smell you coming!"

"Cow pasture."

"Really?" said sarcastically.

"Would I lie to you?"

Of course, the Loveliest House on the Hill makes the whole trip worth it. It's not the biggest, or fanciest, or even the loveliest house in the world, but when you're on that hill in the winter, and the sun is just coming up, and they have their curtains open so you can see the warm glow of their lamps lighting up every room in the house, you just know they would invite you in for a cup of hot coffee, if you weren't driving a bus, on a schedule to get your riders to school.

Whenever I retire from driving the bus, I'm going to knock on their door one early winter morning, and I know they'll be glad I stopped by.

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