I grew up rainy, rainy western Washington.
Everyday my mom would bundle me up, shove a peach colored golf umbrella in my grubby little hand and scoot me out the door to the bus stop. As anyone who has lived in a waterlogged area knows, after prolonged rain hundreds of worms crawl up and out of their dirt homes and stretch across the pavement. The deluge of water has tricked them into thinking that a course bringing them directly in front of my seven-year-old girl feet is just as safe as their watery-lawn homes. Poor, deluded creatures.
However, I, having been properly educated about worms, their importance in compost, and role in creating healthy soil, just could not bring herself to step on a single little worm. I'd carefully stretch each converse clad toe from safe footing to safe footing in a Jainist-like effort to avoid harming a single little worm.
The exerted effort meant that I often found myself on the brink of missing the bus.
As soon as I saw that big yellow vehicle round the corner, panic flooded my heart. I have to admit, in my rush to arrive on time at the appointed bus stop location a few of those slimy little guys may have met an untimely end. Don't judge me.
The school bus was an interesting place for me. The driver especially. He was a big white guy who was clearly tired of driving loud, wet children to school. That 1.3 mile drive back and forth, back and forth had done something to him because he thought it was a great idea to play Monster Mash every morning, 180 days a year.
And soon I began to associate this living, breathing person with the big metal vehicle that he drove. In my mind he didn't have a home, didn't kiss his wife good morning, didn't have children of his own to motor around. No. He was actually physically PART of the bus. Like the anima-tronic bears I'd seen at Disneyland.
And I realizedsoemthing. Until this morning, the idea of a melded man and machine school bus driver has lingered in my consciousness.
Every morning at about 7:12 I am to be found walking my dog through our neighborhood. I notice children waiting for a school bus to pick them up. Their sleep filled eyes barely take in my scary bed hair and my adorable puppy. I've heard and seen the bus that gets them. I know it makes a loud sound that makes Roscoe jump and want to scurry between my legs.
But not once have I looked up and made eye contact with the driver...until today. I noticed that, instead of the rotund, white, slightly dirty man I expected to be rockin out to some Halloween-themed oldies music I saw a nice, young blond hair woman. I was a little surprised.
And then she waved at me.
And I waved back.
I realized that she'd probably seen me and my dog everyday of the school year. I was part of her daily routine. And I hadn't even acknowledge that she was a living, breathing person who wore a cute pink shirt and had straight pearly whites.
And then I thought maybe I should stop concentrating on avoiding stepping in crap on the sidewalk. Maybe instead I should start looking around to see the wonderful, kind, happy people that fill this world.