The Bus Ride This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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“It’s over! Thank goodness! Pedal to the metal!”

School was over and I was drained both mentally and physically. I sat in the very front of the bus because my anxiety to get home was overwhelming. Sitting in front makes you stand out like a shiny quarter in a pile of dull pennies who’s doomed to be spent. Janie, the driver, tries to beat the awkwardness by striking the match and flame of conversation. I try to mind my manners and politely listen, but something about today’s mindless drivel stuck with me. Today, however, her conversation was worth listening to.

“My father’s sick,” she said, to no one in particular. I could see the panic and fear in her eyes. It scared me. I had never seen her like this before. She always had joy and smiles smeared across her heavily made-up face. She drove a lot of kids to and from school every day, and to her they were shimmering bars of gold, none more valuable than any other. With a sudden change of attitude and interest, I asked, “What’s wrong with him?”

Her eyes glassy and her voice tight from fighting the tears, she responded, “Heart trouble.” Her eyes lowered as she continued. “I’ve already lost my mom, and I just don’t think I can stand losing him.” I couldn’t respond. I was in shock. Afraid of her tears, she quickly closed the door, checked her bars of gold and gently pressed the accelerator. My heart ached for her. I sat on the old, smelly seat thinking of the prolonged agony my own mother was thrown into when her father died. I saw how hard it was, and still is, for her. I wouldn’t want anyone to go through that, even a 40-year-old bus driver.

Suddenly I realized Janie wasn’t just a bus driver, that was just her job. She had a whole world of family and concerns, too. I had never thought of her as anything but a driver. I suddenly felt very selfish. I realized I had only thought of people as far as what their purposes were in my life. I had never thought of them as people with lives and events of their own. My friends were just people in my life who comforted me when I needed it, just like I paid no attention to Janie because she was a bus driver. I had judged her by her occupation and brushed her off as insignificant.

For all I know, I’m just another person in someone else’s world, and maybe not even significant. I shouldn’t have been so selfish and self-involved. Everyone has places to go, people to see and schedules to keep. Understanding people is an art.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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