Thursday, May 12, 2005

Learning To Be On Time [Exclusive]

Today I have been inspired by my kids’ lack of understanding about the stress factor induced upon their parents when they find it necessary to seek personalized modes of transportation to school (they missed the bus). In this particular case it may be fortunate for them that they did not grow up in God’s personal paradise, rural Alabama. But then again, sharing my experience might have taught them a bit about proper planning and such. Hopefully I am imparting that information in another fashion so as they are able to function in our continual financial crisis organized by our fine leaders in Washington. (By now I am sure you folks understand my disdain for those who are employed to freely take from and rule over those of us who work.)

When growing up in rural Alabama the bus was a very necessary mode of transportation for obtaining your education. Bicycling to the school house would require beating the chickens to their crowing post by several hours and walking certainly wasn’t an option either. Both Mom and Dad had to be at work so hitching a ride with them was an unpopular and necessarily rare luxury. Now what I am about to share about our bus drivers has no reflection on them personally. They were both honorable God fearing men of the community. Rather it speaks to the dedication of getting the job done in their own way.

Our first bus driver who transported me in the early elementary years was a meticulous driver who made his rounds in due time. As such my sister and I were rather spoiled because if you were late getting out the door he would wait patiently while the occasional truck waiting for the stopped bus would rapidly grow impatient. The excitement in our life came with the bus driver who carried me beyond the third grade. Since the boys in Washington liked our money in those days almost as much as they do now our bus driver needed two jobs to keep everyone including his own family well fed. It was necessary for him to get the bus route completed in time to complete the rest of his work at the second job. This being the fact we were usually the first kids at the school house and the first kids home regardless of the length of the bus route. Our driver could pass through those gears shifting up and down faster than the pianist could play “I’ll Fly Away” down at the church house. It is a fact that I learned how to drive a stick shift by watching our bus driver. I learned all about maximizing RPM to get the best combination of torque and speed. When they came out with the new fancy buses with automatic transmissions we stayed with old faithful number 17. You see you have no way of using the right combination to get maximum acceleration with one of those automatic transmissions.

Now our driver was a very kind person who wanted to make sure we all got to school. But we did have a schedule to meet. So about half a mile up the road around the sharp curve he began to lay on the horn. This was your notification that it was time to high tail it down to the road. He usually kept that horn humming until he could see you standing down at the end of the drive waiting for him to pick you up. Now since we lived near the fertilizer plant (other than the barn) the trucks passing by were appreciative of our efficiency and minimization of wait time. Once you made your way onto the bus it was highly important to get in your seat so we can begin the magical rhythm of working our way through the gears. I would gladly put him up against any of today’s NASCAR truck racers if he were still able. But with all that speed and efficiency I never knew of a single incident with our bus or with a passenger thereof. That boys is what made a real school bus driver.

But if you didn’t make it out to the road by the time that bus got to your drive you had to face the parents with the fact you needed a ride. Thank God our driver had a good horn because that was an event you wanted to be rare. So my sister and I took turns on who got ready first so the other one could look out my parents’ bedroom window and watch for that yellow traveling alarm horn to signal your morning race down the driveway. That, my friends, is how we learned the importance of rising early and being on time for your appointments. It is one paranoia I carry to this day which makes me lack understanding when my kids drag around and miss the slow city type school bus with the automatic transmission. God bless my drivers and may old number 17 rest in peace. She got the job done.

Folks I have got to bow out again. But I leave you with one last piece of good news. The boys down at the bank found my money. So now I am searching for that magical form which is going to move that money to somewhere that doesn’t give me heart seizure. Now go catch that bus.