Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Big Yellow Death Trap

I ran by the house yesterday to pick up my bike and related crap so I could ride after work (which turned into a BIG GIANT SUCK-FEST, but that's another blog) and I ended up sitting behind a school bus in traffic. I couldn't help but notice that in all these years school bus design has changed very little. The biggest mystery to me is why don't school buses in Texas have air conditioning? The bus was idling there at the red light, some of the windows were up, some were down, and the little fan mounted above the visor was pointed at the driver, spinning like crazy.

When I was in Jr. High we lived less than 2 miles from the school which meant the school district wasn't obligated to provide transportation but did so anyway. However, it was the barest definition of "transportation" legally available. Since we did live so close to the school (although in a small town 2 miles can mean a lot of woods, creeks and very pedestrian un-friendly roads) we were on the "2nd run" on the bus schedule. This meant that the bus picked up a load of kids, drove them all home and then came back to the school for another load. It also meant you got home almost an hour after all the other kids did.

Our bus was a total POS - complete with holes in the floor and non-functioning windshield wipers. I guess the school's logic was to put the crappiest buses on the shortest runs so if they broke down the kids could just get off and walk. During one thunderstorm our bus driver (who was also the science teacher and track coach) made one of the boys squeeze between him and the side window, and I'm not joking, stick his arm out the window and manually work the windshield wiper so he could see. Air conditioning? Non-existent. Heater? Only when the bus got up to top speed (around 50 mph) the heat from the exhaust, and much of the fumes, would blow up through the holes in the floorboard. Seats next to holes were primo real estate in the winter.

One time, and why I have no idea, I reached under one of the bus seats and found a plastic baggie full of a white, powdery substance hidden under the seat. Yep, I know what you are thinking and trust me I was thinking the same thing: Score! I walked around school for several hours convinced that the mafia was going to show up any minute and demand their "stuff" back. Finally I did what all good seventh grade, TV police detectives do, I cut open the baggie, dipped my finger in it and tasted some of it. What I was expecting "it" to taste like, and how I'd recognize "it" anyway never actually crossed my mind (nor did what I'd actually do with it either). Turned out to be laundry detergent, bleah. Mom pretty much had a spaz-attack when I told her what had happened. Note to self: Add this to the list of "stuff we don't tell mom about".

1 comment:

  1. Loved the story about the "stuff we don't tell mom about" list. I'm utterly amazed at the "boy works windshield wiper while driver carts kids to school" bit too. Good Lord, did that crap really happen? Wow. Different day, huh?

    I somehow escaped the whole "ride to school on a bus" thing. I walked one mile (oh, in the snow, uphill both ways, of course) to and from school from 7th grade on up. Don't even have any interesting stories to tell about it. Shoulda rode a bus.