Eugene Robinson, on the “little people” who mean so much in the lives of us ordinary folk, and apparently mean so little to those who live  life exclusively in the stratosphere of the 1%:

It may not be the driver’s job to help with algebra homework, but he or she bears enormous responsibility for safely handling the most precious cargo imaginable. A good bus driver gets to know the children, maintains order and discipline, deals with harassment and bullying. Romney may not realize it, but a good driver plays an important role in ensuring a child’s physical and emotional well-being — and may, in fact, be the first adult to whom the child proudly displays a report card with all A’s.

via Romney and Ryan’s disdain for the working class – The Washington Post.

My own bus driver experience rings clear and true, 40-some years later.

Stan, the bus driver, first picked me up when I was in Second Grade, when I rode the Junior and High School bus to my “new school” while my family was waiting on moving into our new house. I didn’t ride the regular bus with the other third graders. I rode the older kid’s bus, a weird route that managed to pick me up out of the school’s area, and deliver me safely to my new school.

And Stan made that happen.  He sat me right behind him. He talked to me all through that intimidating ride with the older kids. He watched me walk to the school. He was patient. He was nice.  I can still see his face.

After we moved, he wasn’t my bus driver for a while. But when I went to Junior High, Stan was still driving that bus, and was the driver all through the next five years.

There are so many memories: Stan coaxing that old creaky bus up a steep, winding, icy hill, slipping, restarting, always managing to get all the way up the hill eventually – and the soundtrack all the while: the screaching brakes, the whining clutch, our gasps and squeals and cries of fear.  And then us all being grateful – some cheering, some just silently sweating out the success – when Stan finally topped the hill, and we trundled on through the flatter roads.

Stan broke up fights.  Stan sat people so the timid ones wouldn’t get bullied.  Stan pulled the bus over to the side of the country road till the “bad kids” settled down.  Stan rarely raised his voice. Or maybe he never raised his voice – I can’t actually remember a single instance, though he’d have had plenty of reasons.  I do remember him shaking his head, I do remember a lot of sighing.

Stan was the bus driver that most of us wanted to please, because Stan was the guy who looked out for us, and did it in a very calm, confident, quiet kind of way.  He really was a model of compassion, of reason, of perseverance, of humor.  He really was a public employee who influenced me greatly.

So, Stan, here’s to ya!  And here’s to the fabric you helped weave for me and for so many of us.

Thanks, Stan!

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