I'm on the city bus, packed in with other commuters, inching our way through the usual morning traffic. Our route takes us past a high school and the district transportation headquarters. Large yellow school buses snake their way through traffic, converging on the former or the latter depending on the state of their load.
We pass a bus going in the opposite direction, heavily loaded with medium-sized children. The driver waves. Our driver does not.
What are you thinking, school bus driver, with your ears full of the shreikings of excitable children? Are you trying to buddy up to the city bus driver? Do you feel a slight tinge of jealousy when you watch the city buses elegantly slide by, with their loads of mature students and quiet elderly folk?
Your vehicle is conspicuously bright, yellow, lacking creature comforts. The seats are faux leather, covered in graffiti, the floor slippery with puddles from the snow melted off of little boots. You are stamped with the name of your employer - SCHOOL BUS and DISTRICT 9 in bold black letters. You have several emergency escapes in your vehicle, tastelessly cut into the hull. Do you wish you had a second door in your bus, like the motion-activated doors on the city bus? Do you wish you had rubber handles, a wide aisle, steel bars and little yellow strings that go "DING!" when you pull them?
Do you wish to have passengers who are polite? Passengers who want to go where you're taking them? Passengers you can have a causal conversation with - what about this weather and did you see the game last night? Do you long for the sense that you're taking people somewhere special, rather than to the same building every day? Do you think that driving the public bus will give you the same feeling of freedom you get on those (oh-so-rare) field trips?
You waved at the city bus driver and he didn't wave back. How did that make you feel?
The city bus driver didn't even see you. He was concentrating on the bumper before him, on the coffee in his hand, on the numbness in his rear. The seat is well-padded and heated, but after so long, it doesn't matter. The coffee is fragrant and hot, but it doesn't do anything to wake up his soul. He smiles at the pretty women who board at the next stop, but he is staring longingly at the building to his left. Yellow school buses are sliding in, empty, to deposit themselves in the dirt yard. Two hours in, he thinks, Only five left to go.
Another school bus driver waves, and he notices this time. Raises a few fingers off the wheel in tribute. The school bus turns into the dirt lot and he suddenly thinks, Those bastards don't know how easy they got it.