It’s Monday morning and for once, we’re not rushing through the door to catch the school bus. My 8 year old and I actually have time for an extra 5 minutes to saunter through the front door of the apartment.
On the way to the bus stop we wave hello to Mikhail and his mom. Mikhail doesn’t take the big yellow bus anymore, not since the last incident just over a year ago when the driver had to stop the bus in the middle of traffic on the way to school. Mikhail’s a good kid though and he always has big hugs for everyone…though not everyone likes receiving them.
The lady from the apartment next to us, Pamela, is out in full force this morning. Busy-body! She claims she doesn’t work because she’ll lose her housing benefits. She’s probably a nice person, I don’t know, but since her nose is always in everyone’s business, I just don’t have time for her. She stopped me once as I was emptying groceries from my vehicle to ask me why did I always shop at Whole Foods and not Market Basket. I told that I could spend my money wherever the heck I felt like ….and left her there while I rushed into my building.
This morning, Pam has stopped off to get her usual free morning coffee from the leasing office. Why the heck if I wasn’t working would I be up at this hour? Anyway, on the way back to whatever-it-is-she-does, she tries to converse with the children as they make their way to the school bus stop. But the moms shuffle the kids along as if Pam is some sort of rabid animal to be avoided. I feel slightly sorry for her although I know that she’s brought this on herself. People don’t particularly want to speak to her because she’s pretty much told all of us that we’re subsidizing her rent, when she could very well work and pay it herself.
Now the kids are all at the appointed bus stop. Backpacks are strewn all over the ground as their owners chase each other, toss a ball, or try to climb the trees. I used to say “Good Morning” to the other parents, but clearly most of them have left their manners at their front doors. One woman in particular has NEVER responded to me in these past three years, even if I stare at her in the face. I might start to take it personally. But if her husband takes the kids out though, he ALWAYS greets me with a big smile and a cheery hello. Now I walk out there, doing my you-are-all-so-beneath-me stride and give my selective greetings to the three people who normally answer back. The rest of them can go and ….
Ahhh, the bus is here! A mad scramble ensues for backpacks, coats, kisses, and hugs. My son and I have our rituals. I whisper “See ya! Wouldn’t wanna be ya!” and he yells the same to me.
As the last kid boards the bus, the door closes, and the bus begins to move. Like clockwork, “The Late Kid” comes running out of her apartment. The bus driver stops and waits (his prerogative) as she breathlessly runs, backpack bobbing behind her, to catch the bus. Every. Single. Day. Her dad watches from a safe distance. I don’t blame the kid, I mean, she’s in the first grade. But I do blame her dad who causes her so much embarrassment to be racing to get the bus every damn day. Sometimes she misses it too, which is mega embarrassing. Dad knows the bus comes no later than 8:40 am everyday. When her mom takes her out, she’s always on time. OK, so maybe he doesn’t want to associate with any of us, but get the kid to the bus stop by 8:35 am, man! Try it just once!
Great, that’s done, the school bus is gone, and I return to the empty quiet of my own apartment to finish getting myself ready for work. I’ll be out the door in another half hour.