Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Professional Driver's Career Ends

Two little vignettes.

One: Johnnie is the son of the trustee who is in charge of my work, and he is chancellor of the exchequer, i.e., he drafts my checks.  So I have just dropped off the Lake City contingent and we are headed toward the appliance store, about two miles yet from this point.  Johnnie is out of his seat.  Again.  Pestering the girls who ride on to the last stop.  Again.  “Sit, John!  Now!”  I am eyeing him in the mirror.

 He turns back to the girls, as though he is oblivious of me.  “John!”  Nothing.  I slow the bus, pull to the side of the road, pull out the “Stop” sign.  I turn in my seat, call the youngster by his full name.  “You will sit, or you will get off this bus right here.”

“You can’t do that.  My dad will fire you.  Good riddance, too.  You’re a jerk anyway.”

“Off”  I got up and headed toward him.

“Okay, okay.  I’ll sit.” 

“No, you won’t. You will get off.”  He did, tears streaming down his face.  I shut the door, pulled in the arm, and started down the road.  I am a jerk.  Stopped a block down the street, waited while Johnnie caught up.  “Am I going to have trouble with you again?”

“No, sir.  I’m sorry, sir.”

When we got to the store, I went in to talk to John.  I accepted Johnnie’s apology, but I wasn’t about to let him get in the first word with Daddy.

Two:  We are nearing the end of the school year.  It is a beautiful May afternoon, and I will soon have this mixed bag of experiences behind me.  I have a job lined up in Indiana, and I’ve not seen parents or sisters for nine long months.  So, as I turn onto 98th NE and stop to let the charges off, I am in a pretty good mood.  “Good night, now!  See you in the morning!”

I put her in gear and start down the hill.  One block, two.  I touch the brake, I push the brake, the pedal hits the floor and no slowing occurs.  Fortunately, I know how to double-clutch, downshift, use the engine’s compression as a brake.  Down to second,  twirl, twiddle, gas pedal, downshift to first.  We are slowed now, and reach the bottom of the hill.  Fortunately, there is  now an incline before we reach Bothell Way, which is always a very busy highway.  Safely make the stop, the turn, and by very careful, and if I may say so, judicious driving, we limp on through Lake City and to the appliance store.

I park the bus, go in to report to John that his bus has no brakes.  He is not happy, but he gets his delivery van, and we take the last two kids to their stop, then he drives me back to campus.  “Well, he says, I don’t know what to do.  But I think I have to let you go.  We parents will have to get our kids to and from school.  There certainly isn’t enough money to take that beast in to the shop.”

“So my stint with you is over, then?”

“Yes.  You’ve done good work for us, and we appreciate it.  I’ll mail your check tonight.  You should have it before Friday.”

I did get the check.  It bounced.  I learned what “NSF” means.  In Indiana, I talked with my banker, and we tried to run the check through again, which was the only thing he could offer me.  It bounced.  I still have that check.  But I surely could have used that eighty dollars back in 1955.


Lin said...

At least you knew the job was over before the banker told you so. And it was at the end of the school year. I imagine the parents were none to pleased to hear about the lack of a bus to drive their kids.

Vee said...

That was some exciting ride! For a while there my heart was in my throat.

Interesting that someone making an impression by sending his kid to private school wouldn't figure out a way to make good on a debt to a young college student. I'm sure he rationalized that it wasn't his, but rather the school's debt. A parent collection would certainly have been in order.

As you can probably guess, I don't have a lot of respect for people who promise but don't deliver, thus, putting others in a bind.

vanilla said...

Lin, as a callow youth myself, I was a whole lot less concerned about how the kids might get to school than I was about the eighty bucks. Ah, live and learn!

Vee, I've never forgotten the man's name, and it took me years to get to a point of forgiveness. I hope he makes it to heaven (the theology of his church says he will "sleep" until the Resurrection.)

Grace said...

$80 in 1955 - no small amount of money...I don't know anything about driving (or cars) but I have to think that was scary as all get out and you were skillful.

vanilla said...

Grace, the fun (and the aggravation) with the kids, the trials and challenges with the old vehicle, and especially the being stiffed for $80, all combined to make a most unforgettable set of experiences. No long-term ill-effects, though. I am blessed.

Sharkbytes said...

Have found myself driving a bus with no brakes. It's one of the scariest things ever. 8 tons of metal full of people and stuff... As for the money... getting paid is always an adventure. My first reaction though... you'd never get away with actually disciplining a kid on a bus today.

vanilla said...

Sharkey, brakeless busses and unbacked checks are adventures indeed. I am so glad I was born to live in the day and age I lived in. Imagine having been born in the 21st century. I grieve for my great grandchildren.