Almost the first of February but it was one of those days that could fool you into believing that spring was just around the corner. It was warm enough outside that I opened the driver’s window to let air circulate through the bus to keep it from getting stuffy from all those little warm bodies. Students were excitedly talking about how they were going to play outside when they got home. Then in all the excitement there was a sound that was out of place. It started low but began to grow in volume. I looked in the rearview mirror for the source of the sound of someone crying. Now crying on a school bus is not an unusual occurrence. It quite often is coming from the driver but that’s another story. Yet this was not just crying it was on the verge of what I would term as weeping. I located the source and there she set with tears rolling down her little round face. One look at her and you couldn’t help but think, “Who ever made this baby cry is in serious trouble.” The little boy seating next to her was the obvious choice. This would not be the first little girl he made cry. Then I did what any man with a daughter and a granddaughter would do. I gave him the evil eye and at the same time I said, “Come here baby tell Mr. Brandon what’s wrong.” There was a pause while I waited for the sobbing to come under control so I could understand what she was saying. During this pause all I could think was how much trouble that boy was going to be in. Catching her breath she was able to tell me the heart wrenching details, “Mr. Brandon, I wanted a space ship for Christmas and I didn’t get one.” Having relayed the information she then turned the tears back on. I would have gladly given her a space ship, if I had one, but no luck. Trying to ease her pain I explain that I had not received a space ship for Christmas either. Then we took a quick survey of the four front seats. Seems no one had received a space ship for Christmas. It did not ebb the flow of tears but they did slow down. When dreams die, solace is often difficult to find.
Friday, January 16, 2015
Each of us have our routines that we go through each day. I try to leave the school each morning at the same time, each student expecting me at the time they have become familiar with. Most mornings I pass the same cars that are also keeping their appointed schedules. There is the red car that I always meet going south as I go north. She always passes with a friendly wave and a warm smile. There is always that car, with a Tennessee tag, that flies past as if they are trying to qualify for the Daytona Five hundred. The routines continue with the children. The Three Stooges are always running around pushing and shoving each other as they wait for the bus. There are the students that always wait till the last minute to run to the bus from the house and those that are putting on their shoes on the porch so you will see them and not go off and leave them. Then there is the mother in her house coat that sticks her arm out the door and holds up one finger as if it were a flare to signal that her children will again take longer than anyone else on the route to get to the bus. Then there is the daily routine of Charlie. When I stop to pick up one second grader Charlie is there to greet his master as he runs from the house to the bus. In the afternoon Charlie is there again to greet him as he gets off the bus. Rain or shine Charlie is a constant. One morning as the second grader emerged from the house Charlie was wagging is little stubby tail so hard that it was shaking his entire body. It brightened my day and started it off with a laugh. I didn’t know goats could wag their tails like that.
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
As we approached Hot Pickle Boy’s house he asked me if I would slow down so he could look for something. In the afternoons he does not get off the bus at his house he goes to his grandmother’s house, just a few doors down, until his mother gets home. He wanted me to slow down so he could look on the porch. He was looking for a delivery from UPS. He said he had saved up some money and had ordered something and wanted to look and see if it had arrived. Now to say that Hot Pickle Boy is country and has unusual taste is like saying that dogs crave attention and cats only look at you with disgust, it’s just understood. He was not forth coming with what he had ordered but assured me that when it came in he would be sure and let me see it. Well, several days went by of slowing and looking to no avail. After about a week he boarded the bus one morning and said the package had arrived and he had brought it for me to look at. But in typical kid fashion I had to guess, with the hint, starts with a “G” ends with an “S”. With his background I went through my mental archives of Hot Pickle Boy. Hunting or fishing gear was the most likely item. My attempt to guess was fruitless so he decided to move to the unveiling. He unzipped his book bag and pulled out an Israeli military gas mask. Said he had ordered it on line, showed me how it fit and how the canister was attacked to the front. He then modeled it for me turned and walked down the aisle, still wearing the gas mask, and was seated. I would have liked to have had a cleaver quote or maybe a deep philosophical thought at this time but I just don’t know what to say about looking in the rear view mirror and seeing a student donning a rubber, military, gas mask while riding your bus.