Friday, September 18, 2009

From Raucous Reality to Sudden Serenity

I'd rather have my mouth duct-taped to the tail pipe of a transit bus and drug naked through a prickly pear cactus patch while being chased by a pack of wild javelina than drive a bus load of school kids to/from school.

When I choose a run, I make a priority listing of what I want and what I don't want in a run. School runs and East Bay runs are always a deal-breaker. I don't do school runs and I don't do East Bay runs. Sundays off are a priority with me and I endure whatever I have to in order to have Sunday off. When I signed on to this new shake-up, I had to take a San Rafael run in order to get Saturdays/Sundays off. This means I eat up nearly two hours of my day in commuting. But, that's what I do to get Sundays off.

You can imagine my vexation and absolute chagrin when I discovered that despite my diligent and studious perusing of the available runs prior to my bid day, I completely missed the leviathon in disguise: Run 66, lurking in the brakish waters, waiting to devour the unsuspecting initiate!

On Monday morning I came to work, charged and ready to work. The morning commute into the City was a piece of cake. Nice looking and nice smelling, polite business people headed into the Financial District.

After my morning commute, I have a two-hour break. And it is what followed this two-hour break that made me want to walk barefoot across smoldering embers in an attempt to make it go away.

Routes 49 and 51 lazily wend through the backroads of northern Marin County. It's a beautiful route, taking two hours to complete. On my northbound schedule, I picked up only fifteen passengers. Compared with the slammin' jammin' 80's, this was the R&R to which I was looking forward.

At 2:01 pm, I started my southbound Route 51 ... and the "fun" began. I arrived at Marin High School where 25 students anxiously awaited my arrival. These kids, for the most part, are civil, have their fares ready and even though they talk loudly, they're not rude.

I arrived at the Redwood and Grant stop and another 15 students boarded my bus. I began to wonder, "What's going on here?" I drove to Vintage Oak Shopping Center, down South Novato Boulevard and then ... the leviathon raised its nefarious head.

As I rounded the corner of Sunset Parkway and Ignacio Blvd., I saw a mob of junior high kids from the San Jose Middle School at the bus stop. Pushing and shoving each other into the street, throwing backpacks around, punching each other and shouting to the top of their voices ... my heart sank! Oh my god! Is this my destiny?

As I approached the stop, three kids were pushed onto the road directly into my path. I thought, "What if I run over one of these kids? Who is going to understand what is going on here?"

There were forty-one of these hormonal-raging imps in all. There are only 45 seats in the bus. This means that twenty school kids were now standing in the aisle. "Great!" I thought. "This is just friggin' great."

I then drove into the Indian Valley Campus (IVC) of Marin Community College. At the stop, five students were waiting. All but one brave soul came on board, observed the chaos and decided to wait for the next bus. Now mind you, the next bus doesn't come for one hour. So loud and obnoxious were these kids that my potential IVC passengers would rather wait another hour than to endure thirty minutes with these hoodlums!

As we drove along Ignacio Boulevard, the stop request chime rang. "Hallelujah!" I thought. "Perhaps by some divine act, all of these @#&&*^%#'s will get off at this stop.

Not so! I pulled to the curb and NO ONE GOT OFF THE FREAKIN' BUS! By now I was pissed beyond belief. I couldn't wrap my head around what was happening: I had bid for a School Run. I didn't deserve this!

I gathered the necessary composure, put the bus in Park, unbuckled my seat belt and walked to the center of the bus. I delivered my "you ring the bell, you get off the bus" speech. I told them that every time the stop request bell rang, I would pull over. And ... if no one got off, I would get off the bus with my phone and place a call to my friend, or smoke a cigarette, or take pictures of the flora and fauna for 5 minutes before proceeding with the route.

Several howls of protest arose among the students as I informed them that there was a new sheriff in town and this was the way things were going to be. They lamented, whined, travailed, whimpered, scowled and groaned, but I told them to police their own.

The last of these hooligans finally got off my bus at Hamilton Field.

I thought, "Well, I only have 30 minutes of chaos." I then rounded the corner at Terra Linda where fifty-six kids boarded my bus ...

Between my morning commute and afternoon nightmare, I have a two-hour break in San Rafael -- only 13 miles away from the Marin Headlands. While driving home, sweat-sticky from the grueling day of driving 130, testosterone-driven, unruly and disrespectful stinky school kids around in my bus, it hit me: Why not go to the beach?

So today, I went to the beach.

As I laid down on my towel and listened to the sounds of an occasional gull crying out while the waves relentlessly pounded the beach, I heeded Robin Williams' charge to disregard the cacophony of the present, all the while "... sucking the marrow out of life." I opened myself to the soothing sounds of nature, all in preparation for what was to follow.

This afternoon I boarded the same youngsters as I had all week. But I heard in my head, the sounds of the waves crashing against the beach and all of a sudden, the leviathon diminished and whimpered as it dove beneath the surf, searching for a new initiate.

1 comment:

  1. Feel for ya bro' and mia lova'

    Hang in there. My thots 'n prayers
    will be with ya ev'ry day.