There was a news event yesterday that reminded me of a time long ago. The situation was different, but the impression it seared in my memory is there forever. The fright, the feeling of being helpless, mine was followed by embarrassment and utter feelings of wanting to be swallowed up by life and never seen again.

Yesterday a kindergartner was left on a locked school bus for 4 hrs. She was picked up by a substitute driver with a few other kids, and she fell asleep on the bus before it got to school. The driver broke a State and School rule/law by not inspecting each seat at the school. The bus was driven back to the garage and the doors were locked. This poor little child woke up. terrified, and locked on a lonely bus until another driver came to go get the afternoon run and found the terrified child. Fortunately the temp  was not in the 90s. I can bet she remembers this for the rest of her life.

I say that because in 1960 my sister and I had to ride a bus from Spafford NY to Skaneatelas NY. I was going to be 7 soon. It was a long ride, I remember my mom saying we were 13 miles from school, and I think the bus ride was over an hour.  We had not lived at this house the previous school year, so it was a new long adventure. My family was not rich, we had one car and my dad used it all week for work out of town. So if we missed the bus, we missed school. Pam and I would sit by each other and the kids on the bus made fun of us for our name and our clothes. The first day we had an hour of being called “Gainesburgers” and “GraveyTrain” (because our last name was Gaines. ) kids yelling out.. “Hey do you eat dog food for dinner?” or “Does your mom cook dog food?” On the way home the bus driver had some side country roads to go on before he got to our home, and we were watching carefully, because we were not sure how long it would be before our house. It was kinda scary at the young ages we were. My mom had assured us we would be okay and the bus driver would take good care of us.

Well all of the sudden the driver stopped, and looked at me and my sister and said, “Here is your home, this is where you get off.”

It was a creepy abandoned home, the kind you would see in a horror movie. There was shutters that were falling off the house, weeds and over grown grass, ..we told the driver it was not our house, but he told us it was and had us get off. he told us we had to in a firm voice. Then he closed the doors and started to drive away. Pam and I stood there, I started to cry, sob, I felt like I was going to fall, I was beyond terrified… all of the sudden the bus stopped and the driver backed up, the few kids left on the bus and the driver were laughing at us. he told us to get back on and said he was just “having fun” with us.

We were glad to get home, and we dreaded the bus ride the next day, we told our mom what happened, but she did not do anything we were aware of. He was still our driver. My mom did not like to make waves, she avoided confrontation and sometimes it felt like we were helpless, like she did not believe us.

It is 49 years later, and do you know I can still hear the shutter creaking, still feel the fear, still remember the sick feeling in my stomach and the shakiness of my hands and legs, still feel the embarrassment and wanting to disappear as the kids and the driver were pointing at us and laughing. And I still remember how every day after that, how I hated riding his bus. We only lived there for 2 years, but that 2 years, I never trusted him again. And the kids kept teasing us, and no matter what we did, we never made it past the ridicule.

Please… Be kind to children, for every moment is a chance to create a memory… make it a good one. Love to all, ( except that creepy bus driver) Cindy

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