SLICE OF LIFE: The wheels on the bus go straight to Hell

2012-10-14T00:00:00Z SLICE OF LIFE: The wheels on the bus go straight to HellBy Vanessa Renderman, (219) 933-3244

I have seen Hell.

It is yellow and seats about 45 people. And it has wheels.

There was a time when I liked to ride the school bus. Namely, when we lived in Chicago and walked the one block to school. Back then, a yellow school bus in the parking lot meant it was field trip day.

We'd fall over each other to get a seat in the back row, which--any school kid can tell you--is the bounciest and an ideal position for making faces at the drivers behind you.

It was fun. We did the wave. We sang songs and chanted interactive games like, "Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?"

That changed when we moved to Indiana. I was the new kid, the chubby kid and the four-eyed kid all wrapped in one dimple-cheeked, crooked-toothed package.

My first day of fifth grade, that half block walk to the bus stop was like a death row convict shuffling to Old Sparky.

If I'd listened hard enough, I would've heard the spirits of thousands of bus-hating children before me, tapping pencils on windows that only open half way, as a show of solidarity.

The first day went OK. Actually, the first year went OK.

But when I entered middle school and Mom's work schedule lined up with my school schedule, she started driving me. We could leave a little later and had some time to chat on the car ride.

And then there were snow and fog delay days.

While most children cheered to have a couple hours sheared off their school day, I panicked. That meant Mom couldn't drive me, and I'd have to ride the bus.

The problem with riding the bus only on snow and fog delay days is that, by then, the kids have been sitting in the same seats for weeks, if not months.

They're not afraid to tell you--or tell ON you--when you're sitting in their seat, leaving you standing in the aisle with dozens of eyes staring up as you try to find a few inches of empty space to plop the edge of your dupa.

I learned to sit close to the bus driver and bring her into the mix to mediate.

That's a lot to ask of a person who is responsible for navigating an oversized vehicle filled with loud, obnoxious precious cargo.

Actually, that's my only proof that Hell is not a school bus. So many drivers are angels.

Vanessa Renderman covers health care for The Times. You can reach her at

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