Since I had a stay-at-home mom, I never got to ride the bus aside from field trip days. However, my life of crime started with the desire to ride a bus.
In second grade, I forged my dad’s signature — his was easier — on a field trip slip to go to the city’s dump because I hadn’t remembered to bring the note home.
While the ginormous magnet picking up the metal was cool, it was riding in a bus with no seat belts that made me relish my newly discovered second-grade criminal mind.
Unfortunately, I’m not truly cut out for the dark side. I gleefully told my mom about the trip as soon as she picked me up from school. Busted.
My daughter had the same keen interest in riding the bus that I did when I was little, but I was immediately on edge since I had no real experience with buses.
My kid, whose backpack rivaled her in size and who almost needed to climb up the steep stairs on all fours, was 100% a go for getting on that mythical yellow bus.
All I needed at that moment was to place my trust in a stranger for her safety.
It’s a huge ask for any parent. And it’s a huge responsibility for anyone to take on, shepherding little souls to school.
But beyond the treacle, let’s be real. Most of the students are probably overactive, some will habitually leave a half-eaten chocolate bar in the seat, and there are a few who will set up mobile Lord of the Flies scenarios in the back of the bus at least once a week. It cannot be an easy job.
Today, the bus drivers in my town took on another responsibility, modeling how to stand up for themselves and their rights by going on a strike. They picked up the kids to get them to school — and then went back to the parking lot to pick up their signs.
I won’t go into too much detail on the reasons for the strike, but there were claims of driver deficits and adjustments to COVID-19 safe practices. Drivers got additional routes and needed to rush to get all the kids to school on time. There were also stalled negotiations on increased pay for the unionized drivers who work with a contractor for the public school system.
I have no dog in the fight because I’m privileged to be able to drive my kids to and from school, something that I was called on this week when I tried to organize an after-school birthday party for my daughter.
After the invites went out, I got a call from a mom who asked if I might have her daughter ride along home with me after school. She wouldn’t drop her off until later because she would be at her second job.
I hadn’t even thought of that scenario; my fortunate situation had blinded me.
We all still have blind spots, especially if we’ve moved out of certain stages in life or had the privilege of support that others don’t have, but it’s those blind spots we need to seek out to strengthen our society.
From the bus drivers to the stay-at-home parents who had a shake at getting paid family leave, there are those who provide an intrinsic value to our society who may need our support. Their worth might be hidden for so many who could help create the change, like for a 74-year-old senator in West Virginia.
— Cassie McClure is a writer, wife/mama/daughter, fan of the Oxford comma, and drinker of tequila. Some of those things relate. She is also executive director of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on Twitter: @TheCMcClure. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.