Hurriedly I stuffed my feet into my shoes and ran after my sister. She was two and a half years older than me and three school years ahead. I don’t remember if I was three or four but I wanted to go to a place she was going. It seemed that she was going to a place of fun and excitement while I was stuck at home. Every weekday she would catch the school bus around fifty yards from our house. It was kind of a spur of the moment thing but I was determined to go too! So here I was running in my hard shoes that were untied (hadn’t learned that yet) to a big yellow bus on her heals. As I climbed the big step of the bus my dream suddenly stopped. The long arm of the bus driver recognized and disqualified me immediately. The next thing I knew my mom was picking me up from the bus step and holding me in here arms as I cried out of hurt and frustration. It didn’t take long for me to stop crying as mom comforted me with her words and hug. In her arms my disappointment quickly went away.
Mrs. Kramer was the bus driver. I found this out when I finally got to ride the bus. Usually things went smooth as Mrs. Kramer operated that big bus to perfection in her many stops along the way. Through our neighborhood she would make stops along Byrd Drive all the way to the end. The road ended and she would turn the bus around at the dead end which had a dirt circle with just enough room to make the maneuver. Then she would circle around to the next road over and pick those kids up. Turning the bus around again at their dead end (which was paved) she made her way to the final stops in the circle before hitting our road again and eventually the main road. The route of course never varied. The only difference from day to day was possibly someone running late for the bus causing a slight delay. Normally Mrs. Kramer operated the bus like clockwork day after day.
Mrs. Kramer was a middle aged lady with brown curly hair and glasses. She was as tough as nails and didn’t allow anything to bother her on her mission to get us to school. I admired the way she could operate that huge bus. The bus had one of those big stick shifts and it was cool watching her shift that thing so smoothly. I remember her forceful words when things were getting out of control. You know the times when the bus was too noisy or someone was causing trouble. She could quiet the storm immediately with “the lights are on and I want it quiet!” The lights she was referring to were the lights on the ceiling. Her number one rule to all of her passengers was that those lights were to be respected at all times. Most of the time she didn’t have to use them. Those were the times when you got on the bus and it made it’s rounds without any incidences and a few minutes later you were dropped off in front of the school. However I remember times when the lights came on and her call for attention was heard. It might have been when she had to cross the railroad tracks with a train on it’s way, or when kids were so unruly that a warning had to be made. She would pull the bus over and stand in the aisle as she made her statement. You could hear the sharpness in her voice as she took complete control of the situation. She had the power to kick people off of the bus and we all knew that. If Mrs. Kramer was not happy it was bad news. She ruled that bus like a dictator and we were just happy to be under her reign.
Although our parents may not have met Mrs. Kramer they all had a deep respect for her. They knew that it is quite a challenge driving a bus with the responsibility of getting their kids safely to and from school every day. They knew that she was doing them a service and even though most didn’t know her the job she was doing was appreciated. Their appreciation meant that they would do their part in getting their kids to school. Usually this meant making sure their kids got to the bus stop on time. However there was one time when much more was required.
Although it wasn’t raining that day we had received a lot of rain in the days before. Mrs. Kramer was making her rounds down Byrd Drive stopping at each bus stop in her usual manner. As she attempted to do her normal circle turnaround on the dirt at the dead end something strange happened. Sitting in my seat near the back I noticed that the bus stopped moving. All of the sudden we are hearing the sound of wheels spinning as we were sitting still. Mrs. Kramer attempted to put the big bus in reverse but the wheels were clearly stuck. It seems that with all of the mud that had formed the bus was literally spinning it’s wheels. Mrs. Kramer didn’t use the overhead lights that day. The problem wasn’t related to anything we were doing. In fact the bus was unusually quiet as we realized hers and our predicament. After several efforts Mrs. Kramer realized that she couldn’t do any more on her own to free the bus.
Mrs. Kramer asked that three or four kids go to their parents for help while the rest of us stayed on the bus. It didn’t take long before we saw a team of men including my dad carrying their shovels walking toward the bus. Their presence made us all feel better. I’m sure that it meant a lot to Mrs. Kramer. She had been so faithful in doing her job through the years and now that she couldn’t there was a team to give a helping hand. It didn’t take long before those men had the big bus freed from it’s entanglement and circling back on it’s route again!
It’s strange how thousands of times we traveled that same route with no problems. Those times were so routine that I have a hard time remembering a single one. Yet the time that we had trouble was so unusual that almost every detail is still there. Perhaps you are at a time in your life when you feel stuck in the mud. Maybe life has went along smoothly until something occurred that slowed your bus down to a halt. The good news is that God is there to help you! When Mrs. Kramer realized that she needed help her thoughts and actions were released to get that help. When we are in trouble it’s nice to know that a simple call will bring God to the rescue. There is comfort in him much like the comfort I found with my rejection from the school bus years ago as I was held in my mothers loving arms.