Are you the sort of person that gets lost in their own backyard, or do you know where you’re situated at all times? While I wouldn’t say I’m solidly in the latter group, I do usually know where I am, how I got there, and in which direction I dwell. Naturally, there are always exceptions to the rule.
Take this Saturday when I waited for my husband to inspect a rack of reduced-price blue jeans. He always waits patiently for me to shop, so I made no protest as he endlessly pilfered through piles of pants, checking size, cut, and price. I stood close to the man, watching funny videos on my phone until I finally looked at him in annoyance, wondering what was taking so long, and realised I’d been hovering beside a scantily clad mannequin for almost ten minutes. Not that Tom often hunts for bargains in his underwear. It was purely a case of me not paying attention to my surroundings.
This past week, during a snowstorm, I drove a bus for another driver who became ill. I took over without knowing the route but felt no qualms about it since I knew the children.
“It’ll be fine,” I said confidently. “The kids will tell me where they live. No problem.”
However, it was a problem. By the time we left that afternoon, warm conditions and freezing rain had turned roads into skating rinks. Snow fell relentlessly, and visibility was poor. To top it all off, the wiper blade on the driver’s side was all gummed up with snow and ice. Repeatedly, I leapt from the bus to bash it free against the window.
Then, horrors, I learned one vital, life-altering fact—many of the kids did NOT know where they lived.
This became painfully evident toward the end when only one little boy hunched directly behind me, and two little girls perched on the opposite side. In vain, I asked for any slight indication of where they might reside: a landmark, a sign, a fence, or maybe a few lousy evergreens growing by the road. Nothing. Did they perhaps live on the hills of Big Gully?
“Yes!” cried one little girl, bouncing up and down in her seat. “We do, we do.”
“No, you don’t,” said the boy flatly. He sighed with loud exasperation. “You live over there.” I caught the movement of his arm as it pumped briskly in a direction only they could see.
“We don’t either,” the other girl reproachfully yelled. “I guess I know where my own house is.”
“I see it,” the first girl screeched, leaping to her feet and jabbing a mittened finger to the right. “Turn here!”
“Don’t turn!” hollered her sister. “She’s wrong.”
By this time, I didn’t know who was talking or if anyone knew where the heck they lived.
I eased off on the fuel, and we began to decelerate slowly since a sudden slamming of brakes, in a bus, on glare ice, is frowned upon not only by me, but the Northwest School Division, and the Saskatchewan Safety Council aren’t keen on it either.
I pulled into a likely-looking driveway amid shouts of, “This isn’t it” and “Whadya doin’ here?”
However, I must report that, in the end, everyone safely and happily made it to their respective homes. And, by golly, if I ever get asked to do it again, I now know where everyone lives.
Helen Row Toews is an author and humorist, works as EA and school bus driver, and carries a license to drive anything on wheels. She grew up and still resides on the family farm near Marshall, Saskatchewan. Helen has written a fantasy series for young adults called Runestaff Chronicles. To contact Helen or check out her books, please go to helentoews.com.