I was reminded on the way home from Cowboy's tonight of how I used to ride the bus when I was younger. I missed the bus a lot.
As I drove past the bus stop in Cowboy's neighborhood, I pondered the idea that the local kids probably get a ride to the stop. Each morning, as with some of my bus mates, their parents wait with them, cars running, heater on, in time for the school bus in the morning.
For us, a car ride to the bus stop was a rare and special treat usually provided by the next door neighbor. More often then not, we ran to catch the bus that would take us the approximately 8 miles to school. (it sure seemed further than that) On cold days, my still wet hair would freeze a bit and I constantly had shin splints from running down hill in cheap shoes. There were many times that I missed the bus and my parents never knew. A neighbor would take me in to town. There were many times when I had to slink back up the hill, a good half mile or so and explain that I didn't make it. Again. There was nothing like the horrible feeling when I would watch the bus drive away. No amount of waving would get the driver to stop on those days. Later, she would admit, she thought it was funny. She could see us in the rearview mirror. Missing the bus meant big trouble for me. You would think I would have learned to be punctual.
The first time it happened, I thought I could walk to school. We had just moved to the country from the city and I had no idea just how long it would take to walk, I just knew that I had to get there. At 12, it didn't occur to me that I shouldn't walk up a long windy road without sidewalks. I was still within sight of the bus stop when a car pulled over.
"I'm Kelly's Dad" he said, as he offered me a ride. I got in. A bit down the road I realized that I had a lot more to be worried about than the wrath of my parents. (at the time, it was about equal, actually) I prayed that nothing bad would happen. When I got out safely at my school, I worried that someone would find out.
I remember telling a friend. I didn't have many. I don't know who told my sister or cousin (I don't remember which found out first) I don't remember the punishment even though I sure there was one. I never took another ride to school with a stranger.