Bus Driver Roy O'Dell This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

February 12, 2013
He was unlike any other bus driver.

My mind drifts back to years ago whenever I look at that two-dollar bill. I remember climbing up into that massive yellow bus the first time, gripping my Scooby-Doo lunch box nervously. Roy's warm smile was the first thing I saw. His short gray hair was slicked back, and he spoke fast and then smiled. Instantly, I felt warmth kindle inside me. From that day on, I sat in the front seat and talked to Roy, my bus driver. From that moment on we were friends.

Roy gave me a Christmas gift, a pack of Juicy Fruit for my birthday, and a giant candy bag for Halloween. Our conversations grew deeper and more heartfelt as I grew up. His laugh bellowed like Santa Claus. On the days I was running late, he would wait an extra minute. Every day he was at my driveway at exactly 6:30. He was always exactly on time; even if it was snowy or rainy. He amazed me and most of all inspired me with the care he put into his job.

After school on Fridays, Mom always took me to our local family restaurant. One evening I walked in and saw Roy at a table sipping coffee and reading the paper. He waved, flashing that warm smile. He stood, winked at me, and left with the jingle of the door. After we ate, Mom asked for the check, and we discovered that Roy had paid for our dinner. Grateful tears filled our eyes as we enjoyed the desserts he had also ordered for us.

After that act of kindness, weeks passed with no word from Roy. A substitute bus driver took his place. After gathering my courage I asked about Roy. The answer was devastating: cancer. Fear tore at my heart and worry weighed on my mind. The next week I bought him a card. Nervously I drove to his house and walked up the stone pathway. I knocked on the door. No answer. A tear ran down my cheek as I slid the card under the door.

Roy returned a month later, then left again. Christmas was just around the corner, and still he was gone.

The melting snow slushed under my feet as I stumbled to the bus. As I climbed up the stairs I was handed a white envelope. I took my seat and opened it slowly. In the soft glow of the morning sun, I began to read:

Dear Student,

My father, Roy O'Dell, considered you his family. His “bus kids” brought him immense joy. In his room were seven alarm clocks. Seven! My father was well known for being on time.

If there is one thing my father has taught you, I would hope it's this: Be persistent in any job you do. Any job is worth effort, whether it's a garbage truck driver, plumber, lawyer, doctor, or even bus driver.

My father received your cards, gifts, and phone calls. He told us about every single one of you – the nice ones and the rowdy ones – and his face glowed when he spoke of you.

My father's dream was to give all of his “bus kids” a two-dollar bill for Christmas. He believed that the rare bills would increase in value. I give you this in memory of my father, your bus driver, Roy O'Dell.


Cindy O'Dell

Tears filled my eyes. Inside the envelope was a crisp two-dollar bill. My life and my outlook had been changed by this man. I reread the letter and sat silently with tears in my eyes, missing my friend Roy.

Roy O'Dell has never left my heart. His memory lives on. Every time my eyes linger on that two-dollar bill, Roy returns. His bright smile, his warm handshake, and the smell of Old Spice are re-created in my mind. Now, that two-dollar bill never increased in monetary value, but Roy's investment has paid off in other ways. That bill is still worth two dollars, but to me it's priceless. In retrospect, Roy was right; the two-dollar bill did go up in value, especially to his “bus kids.” It carries a story that only a few know.

Now, when you look at a two-dollar bill, I hope it means more to you. In addition to Thomas Jefferson, I hope you see a man, a bus driver who loved his job and the kids he drove. He treated people as he wanted to be treated. I will always remember this man who inspired and cared about me.

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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This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

Brittany B. said...
Dec. 13, 2013 at 10:48 am
I really enjoyed this columb because of the ways it was explained. I could visualize the bus driver and the bus rides. I really liked the way the bus driver acted he was or seemed like a very good guy, especially to children. Plus not many bus drivers can be on time I know my bus driver is always late. So for him to be on time everyday wether its snow or rain he is there WOW!!
Dakota16 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 5, 2014 at 8:49 am
Thank You so much!!
blbbraun said...
Feb. 14, 2013 at 12:56 pm
Very touching
Dakota16 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 15, 2013 at 9:56 am
Thank You it means alot
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