Old Lady sighed. She sat behind the wheel of her bus waiting for the Elementary students to load. It had been a long week and she was eager for the weekend. It was only Thursday. The first student to get on the bus was one who was not known for sitting still, and when his brother got on, Old Lady knew it was not going to be a quiet ride home. Since the bus was so empty, with most of the students being kept home for virtual learning by their parents, Old Lady could seat the brothers far, far apart.
Soon enough they were joined by little Edgar* who was also quick to take advantage of any and all energetic “fun” the boys could think up. Old Lady put him in the front seat, hoping to distract him by giving him the opportunity to watch out the window, but soon the three were involved in a mock gunfight. Once they started moving out of their seats and the water bottles came out as improvised weapons, Old Lady stood up and put a quick stop to it all, explaining patiently once again why they must all social distance. She sighed again, this time with relief once the girls came out of the school and the dynamic of energy on the bus shifted. Fortunately for Old Lady, the brothers’ stop was the first; they would be delivered soon enough, and as safely as possible, to their mother. That did not stop little Peter, a kindergartner, from trying to ride home standing up facing backwards in his seat. Old Lady, keeping her eyes darting between road and mirror, nagged, “Sit DOWN!”
At the stop, the two young boys raced for the door, pushing and shoving each other. Old Lady refused to open the door until the brothers cooperated and got back in line behind the white line which demarcates the place at which a student is supposed to wait safely for the driver to come to a stop, check traffic, and open the door so they can get off. It took some furious coaxing, but finally the two young hooligans cooperated, more eager to get off the bus than to wait through Old Lady’s scolding. Mom, who saw the entire incident, gave Old Lady a thumbs up. The door sighed open, the boys got off, and Old Lady shouted to Mom, “They’re the Wild Ones today!” Mom nodded, and reminded Old Lady, “Just tell me when they act up, so I can talk to them about it!”
The rest of the bus stops were uneventful, with the dynamic duo gone. Finally, little Edgar was the last one on the bus. He was the last one on in the morning, and the last one off at night. As usual, he was riding standing up to see what was going on around him. Old Lady reminded him again to sit for his own safety, but she wasn’t really harsh about it, since he was in his seat behind the tall protective padded front between him and the door. Old Lady knew he juggled between parents who had a different parenting style, so when he sighed and complained of not having any friends, Old Lady listened with some sympathy. She’d had to raise her son in a similar way.
Remembering that morning, when Edgar had been loudly talking over another boy who wanted to be his friend and who wanted to share information with Edgar, Old Lady suggested very gently that perhaps, if Edgar wanted more friends, he try to listen and not talk over people. Edgar got very quiet, then said he would try it. They arrived at Edgar’s stop, and Old Lady was relieved to see his mother there on time waiting for the bus. It often felt heartbreaking to Old Lady when parents were not right there to meet the bus and greet their child. Old Lady knew Edgar’s mom to be a caring woman, but one who had to keep two jobs to support her family.
With the bus empty, Old Lady pulled over in a safe spot and walked the aisle to make sure she had not missed any students. Sheila had forgotten her lunch box again, so Old Lady carried it up to the front of the bus and tucked it into her cubby to give Sheila in the morning. Back at the bus yard, Old Lady put her bus away for the night, and shared the habitual daily banter with the other drivers. At home, Dog was eager to see her, and danced all over her, making it difficult to fetch the leash and the flashlight. Old Lady left home and returned home during the twilight areas of the day. Dog accepted her bribe and the hooking up of the leash. Out into the night they went.
Standing quietly under the long-needled pines waiting for Dog to sniff her way to the perfect bathroom spot, Old Lady exhaled a long deep breath. She called Earth energy up through her Root chakra and Sky energy down through her Crown chakra and gave thanks that she had been able to be of service during the work day. Rejuvenated, she expanded her awareness all the way down the Valley to her tree friend, the Hemlock, and discovered all was well, all was well, and all manner of things are well. Dog, done with her business, put her wet warm nose in Old Lady’s hand. Old Lady squeezed gently, Dog snuffled, and the two went inside to a warm dinner, courtesy of Husband, and gracefully put the day to bed.
*The real names of any and all students have been changed to protect the privacy of the children. One or more incidents may have been combined to create a good story.