The first rule is to follow at a safe distance. (No, the mandated COVID-19 six feet/two meters is not it). On a winding, rolling rural road, don’t bother attempting to pass, unless you’re driving a fire truck or ambulance on a mission. Just relax and observe.
I can tell if a school bus is coming: a parent, usually the mother, is waiting on the shoulder of the highway. Perhaps there’s even a dog, usually a big one, such as a golden or a shepherd.
Here are a few more observations.
Three teens bounce out of the bus. Only one of them stops beside the empty garbage cans and recycling bins. She shouts something, but the boys feign deafness and trudge on. She clenches her fists, then dutifully drags everything up the lane.
Before that girl marries, I hope she learns how to get everyone to pull their weight, put their shoulder to the wheel and do their bit.
I remember two very contrasting scenarios. In the first, I noticed a youngster’s head popping out from in front of the bus. He paused, scanned both ways, then scurried across the road. That kid was well trained and will live long.
In contrast, I remember another youngster who, without the briefest of a pause, bolted blindly across the road. His faith in motorists was greater than the centurion who had an ill servant
(Matthew 8: 5-13), the woman with an issue of blood (Luke 8: 43-48) and the blind man at the roadside who was cured (John 9: 10n & 11).
The most touching sight I remember involved a dog. Seeing a dog sitting all by itself at the end of a farm lane told me that the arrival of the school bus was imminent, so I pulled over to watch. (If you’ve ever had a dog, you know that they can tell time.)
Out tumbled three school children of various ages. The dog greeted them by dancing up and down, yelping and bounding around them. In return, they completely ignored him all the way to the farmhouse. Not a hug, nor a pat on the head. It was as if the welcoming dog did not exist.
I wanted to take that dog home, to give him the reward he so deserved.
The next time you see a school bus making a pickup or drop-off, pause to observe.