My relief was almost palpable, a sensation as restorative as a deep cleansing breath or a nap. Holly’s bus, 25 minutes late, was pulling up to the end of the driveway. All I needed to do was get her into the car and get the car four-tenths of a mile down the driveway and back into the garage and both kids would be safely home from school. I scraped the half-inch of new snow that had fallen in the time I’d been waiting off the windshield and told Holly to buckle her seatbelt even though we were on our own driveway because it was so slippery and I didn’t want to take any chances.
During the seconds-long interval that the bus idled on the road while Holly clambered down the steps, I tried to express to the driver how much I appreciated what she had done on that particular day. The snow was teeming down and had been since her second morning shift. With Holly as her last stop, she was on the final leg of the second of two successful round trips on one of the snowiest days I could remember in years. Turning the car around to head home, I couldn’t get over the relief of knowing both kids were safe at home.
And I couldn’t stop thinking about the amazing service the bus drivers perform on days like this. Yes, it’s what they’re trained to do; yes, it’s the job they’ve chosen for themselves. But still. I’m not sure I could operate a school bus in the most ideal weather conditions possible; I can’t imagine having to drive one along Carlisle’s narrow, winding, half-plowed streets on a day like this. The fact that we’ve had so many consecutive storms in the past couple of weeks make it even worse: the snowbanks are so high that visibility is reduced significantly on every turn and curve of the road.
Our bus driver, Cheryl, is new to our school this year. The kids like her. She always greets them when they climb onto the bus in the morning, and she always waves at me when she opens the door in the afternoon to let Holly out. We gave her a tin of homemade candy for Christmas; she’s the first bus driver we’ve ever had who wrote me a thankyou note and sent it to our home during the vacation week.
So I’m impressed with Cheryl even on the best of days, but never more so than on a day like this. I can do a lot of things for my kids, but I can’t drive them safely home on a school bus in the snow. She can, and has proven that several times this winter. I don’t know her at all, but I imagine there must be elements within her that are courageous, calm and physically strong. She has a tough job to do on a day like yesterday. Having to wait an extra 25 minutes for Holly to get home – 25 minutes that Cheryl spent negotiating the backroads of Carlisle in the most treacherous of conditions – only deepened my admiration for her abilities and those of all the other school bus drivers responsible for kids’ safety on a day like today. It’s not something I could do, but I will be forever grateful and impressed that they can.