Thursday, July 23, 2015

Riding the Bus

The year is 1976.  I have kinda gotten settled into my new school.  It is still a little scary, but my Aunt Beth teaches in the next room over.  That provides some comfort, although I was adamant that I did NOT want her as my teacher.  Even then, I understood the problems of nepotism.

And today, I am going to ride the bus home.

A teacher shepherds me onto the right bus, and I find a seat.  IT is kinda scary, and the bus smells funny - an odd mix of masking tape and motor oil - , but I’m all right.  The biggest thing is that I don’t know the rules.

So far in my life, the easiest thing to do is to trust authority.  Mom is right.  Dad is right.  Mrs. Sheffield is right.  They won’t let anything happen that goes wrong.  And if they do, they are grown-ups.  They can fix it.

So I trust Mike to know what to do.  I know the area we are going, and we drive pretty close to my house.  I get a little worried when we go on down E. North Street beyond where the turn off to my house is.  But Mike must know what he is doing.  Kids are stopping and getting off at street corners.  Maybe he’s just coming back for mine.

Ten minutes later and I no longer know where I am.  We have now gone out of my realm of knowledge of the city of Greenville.  We are out in suburbia, and Mike has just dropped off his last kid.  Or so he thinks.

His girlfriend walks back to the back of the bus, and finds me, timid and lost. 

“Oh, shit.  Who are you?”

"I’m Crorey"

"Where was your stop?"

"I don’t know.  I’ve never ridden the bus before."  Tears threaten.

"Where is your house?"

"107 Lockwood Avenue."

"Where is that from here?"

“I don’t know.”  At this point, I probably start crying. 

“Don’t worry, buddy.  We’ll find your house.”

No map, no GPS, just a terrified little kid in the backseat.

And so they start retracing their steps.  Eventually, I recognize a landmark and guide them in.  The girlfriend keeps saying, “Are you sure?”  But once I see my landmarks, I am golden.  And I navigate them successfully to my house, where my mom is out of her mind with worry.  I am three hours late.

 Sometimes, as an adult, I remember this little scene and worry.  I have a lot of people in my life that are responsible for keeping things moving, keeping projects going, and making sure stuff gets where it is supposed to.  I assume, like the kid in the bus, that the adults know what is going on. Supervisors. Politicians. Administrators. Program managers. Directors.  And I assume that these adults will take me - and us - where we need to go. 

And when they do, the levees get built.  The marsh gets restored.  The houses get raised, and the buildings relocated. 

But then I hear someone in authority ask me the burrocratic equivalent of "Where was your stop?" And I can feel, again, the terror of that little boy on the bus.  And I start looking for any landmark I recognize.   


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