I've been driving buses for more than 40 years. By now, getting behind the wheel of a "cheese wagon" has become second nature, although there are certain aspects of the job that are still challenging. (A sudden scream from a kindergarten student on an otherwise quiet ride is something I will never get used to.)
The school bus is like a rolling classroom, full of drama, laughter and "teaching moments." Every student has a set of traits, tendencies and predispositions that can either be endearing or annoying. It is a microcosm of life itself and the way we interact with other people, whether they are strangers, friends, or family members.
One of my favorites -- and yes, I do have favorites (as do we all) -- is a high school student I'll call Maria (not her real name). She is what I would call "relentlessly" friendly. Every morning as she boards the bus she says, "Hi, Mr. C!" Every afternoon as she steps off the bus to go home it's, "Bye, Mr. C!" And every Friday afternoon it's, "Have a great weekend, Mr. C!" Needless to say, I look forward to her being on the bus because her upbeat and engaging attitude warms the heart of this sometimes cynical old man.
We could all take a lesson from her. I find it easy, by nature, to become gloomy and despondent about life in general and it's often hard for me to "look on the sunny side." But seeing a kid like Maria, and knowing it's possible to see beauty and value in others, helps me to do the same.
Being friendly takes practice. Deferring judgment in deference to seeing the inherent dignity and worth of others takes practice. Being nice takes practice. Let's all practice these things. It would probably make our world an easier place in which to live.
"Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people..." – Galatians 6:10 (NIV)
-- Doug Chastain is a retired teacher and is currently a large-vehicle transportation specialist for the Siloam Springs School District. (Okay, he drives a bus.) He is also a grass maintenance technician at Camp Siloam. (Yeah, he mows the lawn.) You can contact him at [email protected] The opinions expressed are those of the author.