Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round

Kind deeds are very powerful. Sometimes we can do something for someone that to us is so insignificant, but to the recipient it will never be forgotten. I have a memory from my childhood that I still cry about whenever I think of it. I cried about it typing this post. I'm sure the person who helped me has no idea what an impact her kindness had.

When I was in second grade our family moved from in town to out in the country. My school changed. I no longer walked to school, but had to ride a bus AND transfer half-way home to another school bus. For a painfully shy second-grader it felt like I was going to China for school, although it was only seven miles. Not only did I have to travel so far, but my sister and I were the only ones on the buses we rode that had to go through this transfer. It was all because the closer school was over-crowded.

On the first day our mother took us to school, but we had to do the ride home. The buses were big, noisy, and smelly. They were full of kids--lots of them bigger than I, and most definitely noisier. We were reassured that we would be helped, and we were. However, it was hard to get shuffled around by strangers, so when I got aboard the second bus, bus 16 driven by "Ma Whelan", I was terrified and near to tears. We meekly boarded this strange monstrosity, and crept down the aisle, hoping to find a seat to ourselves. Kids were staring at us. They weren't particularly making room or being friendly either. Ma saw our terror, however, and in no time she cleared out the seat right behind her and whisked us into it. Her kind smile and assurances of getting us home safely helped me from completely melting down right then and there.

I rode Ma Whelan's bus for the next ten years--although "Sweet 16" was retired and she got a new bus before I graduated from high school. Everyone loved her. We'd always take up a collection for her birthday and buy her a new sweater to wear while driving the bus. She was our mother on the bus, and her firmness, kindness and protection earned her a place of love and respect in most bus-riders hearts. But that first day, her thoughtfulness quelled the wheels of panic going round and round in my head as I rode the bus home for the first of thousands of times.

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