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The Inner Monologue of a Public School Bus Driver

Drive.

Just drive.

60 yards to the stop sign.  You stop at a stop sign.  Don’t hit the gas.  Hit brake.  Slow to a stop.  Accelerate and we all die.  Accelerate and they all burn.  They all burn.  They’re flammable.  Precious cargo.  Inflammable backpacks.  Flammable children.  Insurance won’t cover that.  Look bad in the paper.  Don’t want to look bad.  Don’t want to incinerate the children.

20 yards to the stop sign.  Slowing right down.  Slowing down.  Going to stop.  Not going to barrel into traffic.  Not going to end us all in a fiery, bloody mass of twisted metal and satisfied laughter.

Stopped.  It’s silent.  All I can hear is silence.  Can’t hear that yelling.  Can’t hear the screaming and crying and whining and whimpering and farting and burping and shuffling and kicking and nose picking and snorting and sniffing and scratching and stomping and poking and prodding and punching and slapping and jumping and bouncing.  Can’t hear anything.  So quiet.  Not going to drive off a cliff.

Driving again because the way is clear.  The way is clear for my peaceful drive.  No one is throwing stuff.  No one is peeing.  No one is eating pudding.  No one is spitting.  No one is drawing on the windows and the chairs and other people.  There’s no one here.  Not going to accelerate into a gas truck.

Stop coming up in 200 yards.  Three to pick up.  Three quiet, unnoticeable nothings.  Just going to open the doors, wait a minute, close the doors.  Not going to wait 10 minutes because one of them only came out with one shoe.  Not going to grit my teeth because one of them can’t find a seat next to anyone who isn’t a nerd and will stand and cry about it.  Not going to drive into the river and seal the door.

100 yards to the stop.  Going to slow down again.  Not going to speed on past and head to Mexico.  Not going to pull the bottle out of my pocket and subdue the ever bubbling rage, even if only for a moment.  Not going to drive right into a McDonalds and hurl myself into a deep fryer.

Oh look, a Smart car.  Those are funny.

Slowing down to the stop.  Put up the flashing lights.  No one is allowed to pass.  No one can pass me.  If I can’t leave, neither can you.  I have to be on the bus, you can park and like it.  No one may go.  You must all stop and look at me.  Look at me.  Why won’t you make eye contact?  You did this to me.  These are your kids.  Not going to flip you off.

Opening the door.  Looking ahead.  Calm and serene. Having a good day.  Not waiting for anyone to find their shoe for the 50th day in a row.  Just going to sit here for a minute because it’s nice weather.  Not enraged.  Not remotely interested in driving off a bridge.

Watching the clock.  Behind schedule.  Got to get to the school.  Almost nine.  Good thing no one forget their shoes for the 50th day in a row.  Now waiting for that to resolve itself.  Not going to staple a shoe to anyone’s forehead.

And I’m driving.  Heading to the school.  Almost done.  Almost there.  Not going to drive right into the monkey bars at breakneck speed.  Just gonna pull up outside, nice and calm.  Not gonna destroy the world from the inside out.  Just gonna stop.

Stopped.

Parked.

I hate my life.

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