Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I am a bus driver

(I needn't have feared for my blogging streak. Stupid Waco drivers live so that I will have something to write about.)

There is a two-lane driveway that runs around Noah's school; this is how we drop him off and pick him up every day. At the end of the driveway is a light. The left lane turns left at the light; the right lane turns right.

This morning, I ended up behind a bus who, for the purposes of this post, will be a "who" and not a "that." This bus began our little journey in the left lane (where I was), moving partially into the right lane to drop off her two students, both of whom took their sweet little first-through-fourth-grade time getting off of said bus. And then, instead of straightening out and picking a lane, the bus continued to drive forward to the light, staying smack in the middle of the two lanes. Not right. Not left. Smack in the middle.

But such is life, right? No blinker, taking up two lanes, whatever. What's the worst that can happen? The light turns green, the bus turns, and maybe it takes us a little longer to get through, but it's just a hiccup in the morning.

Except the light didn't turn green.

Cars passed by on the main road. The crossing guard helped more little munchkins cross the street. The light stayed red. The minutes ticked by, and I began to wonder: was the light ever going to change? And more importantly, was the bus ever going to move?

The cars in front of me couldn't get around the bus. Cars were stacking up behind me, and still the bus sat, resolute. Unmoving. A mountain of yellow irritation, blocking my way to the great world beyond the driveway.

And so, after several minutes, I honked. I was sure to wave at the lady in front of  me to let her know I wasn't honking at her, I was honking at the bus.


Red light. Immovable yellow.

I honked a little more. I mean, really, I had two more kids to drop off. And work to get to. And, eventually, a life to live. I'm all for obeying the law, but obviously something was wrong with the light. It's happened before, and I figured anyone would eventually get tired of sitting at an obviously-broken red light and just go. There were several lulls in the traffic large enough for a bus to squeeze in.

Nope, not this bus. I considered getting out of the car and asking the bus to move. But I knew as soon as I did, the light would turn green and I'd have to jog my little pregnant self back to my car. And surely--surely--the light would change or the bus would go. It had to happen at some point.

But it didn't. Ten full minutes we sat at that light, and my disbelief grew. Really? Really, bus? Not gonna go? Seriously?

So I put the car in park and got out.

I walked to the bus. She saw me coming and opened her window.

"Hi. I know the light is red, but none of us can get around you, so is there any way you can go?" I asked in a truly polite tone. Just curious. Just in case you forgot we're all back there, waiting on you and the obviously-broken light.

She barely looked at me. "I can't go. The light is red." Her tone was not as truly polite.

"Well, yes, I know the light is red, it's just that there are, like, 20 cars backing up here. I'm pretty sure the light isn't working . . ."

"The light is RED. I CAN'T go." Her tone was definitively not polite at this point. And she still wasn't looking at me. My incredulity grew once again. How dense and inconsiderate could we be? And yet, I wanted to mollify her.

"I'm not trying to gripe at you, it's just that . . .  we can't sit here all day, and none of us can get around you." Surely she would see logic at some point. Surely I could make her understand.

I wanted to make snarky comments about how some of us had places to be. I wanted to inform her how inconsiderate it was to take up both lanes. I wanted to ask existential questions like, "What if the light NEVER turns green? Will you allow us out for food and water?" I more practically considered seeing if she would compromise at all--perhaps agree to back up and move into one lane if I could make room for her to do so? After all, I turned around a mile of cars on a Detroit freeway once.

What, I never told you that story?

Once, on the way to visit my Memaw, Aaron, the girls, and I got stuck on I-90 going through downtown Detroit. There was construction somewhere ahead, and we were on a very long stretch of entrance ramp that was only one lane wide. We were at a standstill for over an hour. People were actually walking around, talking to each other. Maybe some people were even playing cards? This was where Aaron learned for the first time that Yankees aren't all rude and belligerent as he'd been led to believe. But this was also before we had cell phones. Word came down the line of cars that there was no way to move ahead, and there was a long, immobile line of cars behind us, with more and more cars exiting onto this ramp every minute. There we were, stuck on a freeway in downtown Detroit, late in the afternoon of our second day of driving, with no prospect of going anywhere for an indefinite amount of time.

"We need to get everyone to back up and turn around," I told Aaron. "We'll be here forever."

"How are you going to do that?" he asked.

"We'll ask them to back up," I replied.

And so we did.

I walked to the cars behind us, where people were gathered around shooting the breeze, and relayed the information about how the road was blocked as far as the eye could see.

"Will you guys help me see if we can get people to back up?" They responded heartily that they would.

So we worked our way backwards down the line of cars, letting them know what was going on. Word spread quickly, and within about five minutes, the last car on the ramp was backing up, turning around, going the other direction on the obviously one-way road so that we could all get out of this jam. Within about ten minutes, our family had gotten back onto the main road and we took another route to Memaw's house and were there in time for dinner.

So, surely, if it came to it, I could get a line of cars in a school driveway to back up so that the stupid, stupid bus could straighten herself out so we could all go around her. Yes, we'd be bending the law in running that red light, but, hey, desperate times and all that.

And there are acceptable times to run a red light.

But just about that time, the inevitable happened.

"The light is green," she informed me. "You need to get back in your car." I'm sure she took great delight in that last part.

Sure enough, the light had finally changed. So I jogged my little pregnant self back to my car, got back in, and made it through the light just as it turned yellow.

Just another hiccup in the morning.


Chris said...

Well, that frustrating incident certainly produced an enjoyable post! BTW & FYI, it's I-94. That's such a great story!

Amy said...

At one point in the writing I wondered if I'd gotten it wrong, but I (obviously) forgot to fact check myself!

CB said...

So funny! I think you showed great restraint with the bus driver. ;-)

Angela said...

I see what you did there with the title. ;-) Let me guess. It happened at Ashbury and Main, right?

Amy said...

Thanks, Cynthia!

Angie--if only! At least it didn't happen at 4 in the morning. Also, I'm impressed that you remembered the street names; I wouldn't have.