Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Wheels of the Bus



"Action is the antidote to despair."
-Joan Baez

That I always arrived at school unscathed is a wonder to me. The fleet of school buses that transported me to and from my destination were at least three decades old, often took us no more than halfway before a failure of some sort set in, and were wholly without safety belts; the seats, with bolts rusting alarmingly on the rotting floor, routinely rattled like a mouth full of loose and very old teeth. Turning bends in the road was a continual journey of fervent hope that the seat would stay in its assigned place.
Those details were superseded only by the disturbing occasions on which our vehicle of the day went on fire, those times in which we had to abandon the stalled contraption and stand by the roadside staring at clouds of smoke and awaiting another bus from the same antique collection.
Those buses would always be mended, never replaced; and as far as I know, up to last year, almost ten years after I finished school, those machines were still rumbling along precariously.
In my heart I believe that the parents involved- who had once been young passengers on those very school buses- honestly believed that the grim line of danger would never be crossed, that we youngsters would perpetually be safe and sound. After thirty years or more, an entire community had somehow come to accept those damaged buses as roadworthy because they had not known how to go about the business of promoting change, how to be the first to stand up and complain. As time went by and nobody was ever hurt, the thought of Doing Anything faded away like the wisps of smoke that frequently streamed like tails from our school transport.
It is astounding what can be deemed acceptable after sufficient time has passed, what people come to accept as normal and tolerable.
Character is a marvellous thing to build in a child, a most noble venture: but I could have done without the fumes and the fire.

2 comments:

Paul Merrill said...

It's appalling that they were & are in such bad condition.

In many parts of the world, though, there are not even school buses to take the kids to school. Or schools. I try to be thankful in the midst of the chaos around us.

TheElementary said...

Paul,
I know, I was thinking when writing that I was lucky to have public transport and not have to walk. But they really were very dangerous- walking would have been safer, if incredibly uncomfortable.

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