There is a disease that I thought was indigenous to my area, but I recently discovered that it is speedily infecting other nearby towns and it actually may not have originated here. It's called Excessiveschoolbusstopitis.
That's me about once a day during my travels. It's a mixture of awe and frustration and feeling trapped. "How did I end up behind this bus? Why did I take this road? How long is this going to go on? Why, sweet Jesus, WHY!?"
Now, I realize that I don't have school age children yet, so my opinion is a little biased. However, I think I'm pretty good at identifying when people have taken a good thing too far. Let me provide you with a little example of Excessiveschoolbusstopitis that's gone untreated.
On an average day I often find myself behind a bus, which is usually travelling at a nice speed of 45 mph on a county road. I feel no stress because the bus is doing the speed limit and the driver is handling the twists and turns with ace precision. Things are good.
Suddenly we slow down, the flashing lights go on, the bus crawls to a stop, the stop sign pops out next to the driver and we are at a school bus stop. "Oh. A stop. Look how cute! The mom is waiting at the end of the driveway for her! And now they are hugging as her mom takes her backpack and they start up the driveway. I can't wait until Allie is that age. I want to be waiting for her when the bus stops."
All the world is lovely and blissful. The stop sign flattens against the bus, the lights stop flashing and we're off.....for about 10 seconds.
Lights, sign, stop, parent waiting at the end of the driveway. "Wow, there are a lot of parents meeting their kids when they get off the bus. It must be nice to not have to work so you can be home. What's taking this kid so long? The bus isn't THAT long, buddy. You're kids.....you run everywhere, so giddy up."
And for the record, I do say all of these things out loud and, yes, sometimes my window is open. Fortunately, they almost never hear me. Notice I said almost never. I'm not proud of those other moments.
The boy is off the bus and his dad is talking to the driver, laughing. "Guess what? Being late isn't funny, Daddy-O, so let's get cracking here. There are three cars behind me in case you hadn't noticed. Save your funny shit for the morning stop." I shoot them an annoyed look as we move forward and then.....
Lights, sign, stop, caregiver waiting. "Wha...??? We JUST stopped! Like, fifty feet back!" I'm flabbergasted every time. The kid runs off the bus, past the caregiver and up the driveway. My blood pressure is rising, but we are moving again, so I start to feel calm. Until....
Lights, sign, stop, mom and little brother waiting. "OH MY GAWD! (Arms thrown up in exasperation) Are you fucking kidding me?? Really?? We JUST STOPPED! We stopped back there. On the other side of the mailbox. Like twenty feet ago! Are you telling me your kid couldn't get off back there and hike his little ass across the twenty feet of lawn to YOUR driveway?? Better yet, why don't you two families get together and agree to meet at the freaking mailbox way back yonder?!!"
This continues forEVER. Okay, not forever, but it feels like it. They should have a "school bus" button on every GPS so you can hit it when you get stuck behind one. Your GPS will saucily say "Recalculating" and add an additional fifteen minutes to your arrival time. Otherwise, you've got to watch your GPS adding minutes slowly and each time it goes up, you get more and more freaked out.
Well, at least I do. I admire those of you who are completely unfazed by this type of situation.
To be fair, I should add at this point that I used to have a road rage problem. (I'm sure you're shocked about this information, right?) Key word there is HAD. I got better.
When I commuted from here to my previous job which was an hour away, I wanted to kill people when I got to my destination. In the morning, they sent me to the shredder to take my frustrations out there. In the evening, well....let's just say it's a wonder that my husband doesn't drink heavily.
Justin will tell you about my road rage issues (he loves to rat me out) AND he will also confirm that I have improved immensely (because he's not stupid and knows he should make me sound good or I'll shun him) AND he's proud of how far I've come since the police pulled me over to issue warnings (because he's good at being a suck up).
It's been six years and I'm nearly recovered. I'm mostly a happy driver now. I just don't want you thinking I'm a complete maniac behind the wheel.
Back to my original subject.
Here's my thing....when I was a wee lass, we used to walk down to the bottom of the hill to wait for the bus. Kids from a four house radius met there. I'm sure the parents who lived within view of the bus stop probably kept an eye out for us as well. None of us were kidnapped. We were a group. And we watched out for each other. We gave a shit about each other and had a smidgen of street smarts to be on the look out for anything suspicious. Plus, it was fun!
What in the hell happened since then? Which parent was the first to say, "I want the bus to stop right at the bottom of my driveway." Better yet, who was the trend setter that saw it and got all worked up about it and said, "If the bus is going to stop at THEIR driveway then I want it to stop at mine! What makes their kid so damn special?"
You know that's where it all began. Right there with that second call to the school. Bitch.
It makes me sad that Allie will probably never get that feeling of hanging out at the bus stop with her peers, giggling with her little friends and complaining about boys and hearing the older kids say curse words for the first time. The bus stop was training for what later would be water cooler talk when life was no longer fun, games and book lernin' from 9 to 5. The training appears to be over now.
It's the little things like this bus stop situation that seem so wrong. The kids lose that little independent experience and become lazy. They think that they should get special treatment. Wait until they get jobs in the city and find out that the subway doesn't stop at their office door. Boy, will they be pissed!
And people like me shouldn't have to get fired up while driving and end up behind schedule due to skatey-eight gazillion stops. It's just so unnecessary. Bring back the group school bus stop, I say!
All of this is a symptom of Excessiveschoolbusstopitis. I'm actively searching for a vaccine.
I probably should be looking for a Valium instead.