Buses Only

November 14, 2008
By Courtney Gorter, Traverse City, MI

I’ll never truly understand the events that led to that moment. There I was, suspended in time (and in the middle of the road, I might add) while a giant yellow school bus roared up the street. I could’ve sworn that the bus had a mind of its own. It was intent on running me over, I was sure of it. Imagine that on a gravestone: Here lies Kelly S. She got mauled by a bus. May she rest in peace.
Let’s rewind here. It was the best part of any school day -- dismissal. The weekend had finally arrived. I met up with two of my friends; we’d agreed to walk to the local elementary school together, to help set up for the annual carnival. We thought we'd be smart and cut through the bus lane, choosing to ignore the gigantic BUSES ONLY sign. (At the time, I also made it a point to ignore my obnoxiously protesting conscience, who sensed impending doom and was snarling in my head, “IDIOTS! IDIOTS!”)
We were walking along in the middle of the road (“IDIOTS!”) because on one side was the way from which we’d come and on the other was this gigantic mud puddle. We decided to keep walking until we could find a place at which we'd have a reasonable chance to jump across and live to tell about it. I mean, this thing was huge — a huge hazard to my general health, as well as my cute new shoes. The school was on the other side of the mud river — scratch that, mud ocean. It was like Alcatraz, junior size.
Then, out of nowhere, one of my friends, Leigh, screamed, “BUS!”
In my head, I can still see it all in slow motion. I was shocked by how close the bus was. I looked at our options. On one side, we had a harmless field, beckoning us to safety. On the other — a deadly muddy sea. I was willing to bet that it had already claimed the lives of hundreds. So we did the only sensible thing.
We lunged for the mud puddle.
“NOOOOOOOO!” Leigh’s scream was long and drawn-out as she slipped, causing a domino effect. Victim number two, Mandy, was going down. I got a nice mud splash to the face. My conscience was rapidly spewing insults with an annoying I-told-you-so tone. There was mud everywhere. I could hear the bus roaring up behind us. My life flashed before my eyes.
Then Leigh, muddy and gasping for air, made the observation: “It's not even coming over here! The bus is turning!”
I wish I could say that there’s a highly useful and life-altering moral to this story. I wish I could end this with a cliché, something like, “Always look on the bright side of things,” “Always take the road less traveled,” or even “All’s well that ends well.” You know, something intriguing. All I can really say is this: never walk in the middle of the road, especially when an insulting conscience suggests you’re of questionable sanity. Or at the very least, look both ways. You never know when a bus might be coming.

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