The worst one was the bus driver who came an hour late and wore a Freddie Kruger hat. The dispatcher of the bus company didn’t like him, either. “Oh not him!” the dispatcher would say. “This guy!”
Jill’s leaving for a week in Mexico tomorrow morning. While she’s gone, it’d be nice if Alex’s bus from afterschool pulled up at 5 every night. I should say that sometimes this bus comes early and the security guard rings to say, “Your son Ned is in the lobby.” It isn’t Ned of course.
Think of the hours I’ve spent waiting for school buses for my kids, peering through the windows of the lobby of our apartment building. Peering into the darkness and the twinkling lights of winter, the orange-yellow warm slant of the late-spring sun still hours before it sets, the brilliant hot-light of a mid-New York summer. Alex’s buses for school or programs. Buses for sibshops for Ned. Ten minutes here, fifteen there. Each bus has a driver and an assistant to help the kids off the bus. These folks generally do their jobs well. Still, if I had that time back I’d live to be 110.
The yellow buses take one of two routes: they round the corner of Fifth Avenue and East 109 – I see their headlights wink and the yellow glow of the bus in the reflection off the parked cars – or they tool right down 110 and I can see them while sitting on the hard iron lawn furniture in our lobby. Sometimes – often – I phone the bus company when the minutes tick past on the iron furniture and there’s still no cheese bus.
“Bus company,” they all say, as if I deal with just one. I announce whose father I am and that I’m expecting a bus to pull up in front of my building soon with its red lights flashing. There’s a moment of Hold, then a voice returns. “He’ll be there in about five minutes,” they say. They usually pull over on the east side of Fifth and they’ve learned to wait until the avenue clears before sliding open their door while I slide around the hood.
If I don’t wait, I’ll hear the horns and see the headlights and grills swerving around the bus. Once another school bus itself almost ran Alex down. I remember the bus driver who would pull diagonally across Fifth and the matron who stepped from the cheese and jacked her hand toward the sky with the palm out. Cars did stop. I just picked up an autistic child from a schoolbus stopped in Manhattan and boy is my middle finger tired!
That’s not all that’s tired.