Sunday, March 31, 2013

My Inspirational Bus Driver


I dreaded every second of it.

One hour every morning and another in the afternoon, forced to inhale that slight but penetrating smell of exhaust fumes, and attempt to drown the rowdiness of other students through my headphones.

Every time I took those three steps on to the school bus, an unpleasant feeling plagued my stomach. It was a combination of fear heading to a school with students still unknown to me and a hatred for every facet involved in riding Bus 123.

Yet, this same bus became my cocoon - a platform for my metamorphosis during high school - and my bus driver, Mrs. Cathy, helped drive me out of the abyss of my reticence.

A lot had happened in so little time at the start of my high school career. My father was diagnosed with kidney cancer, laid off from his job, and got into two separate car accidents. In the meantime, I was struggling to define myself in my new school. The only time I was liberated from these struggles was on the bus.

One afternoon, Mrs. Cathy broke my routine of sitting alone in the back of the bus by asking me to sit behind her. She noticed I was being reclusive for a purpose, and began to converse with me and ask about my family. From that day on, I never moved back. Every day, I would sit behind her, gradually opening up, transforming, and escaping the prison of my idiosyncrasy.

My perception of Mrs. Cathy would change from viewing her as just my bus driver to an individual who inspired me daily with her genuine compassion. It became much more than just a bus ride; it became a chance to discuss my life, thoughts, and have unique conversations every day with a special person.

I still cannot comprehend how over the years, seated behind her, staring at merely her eyes through her rear-view mirror, has garnered some of the most unusually important conversations of my life.

However, not for one moment do I let the unconventionality of our relationship create doubt on how much influence she has had on me. I continue to walk up those steps and sit in that seat as an extremely fortunate person to have met such a loving, caring, and kindhearted individual.

When people ask me why I am “so close to my bus driver”, I tell them I am not.

I am close to a woman who deserves my utmost respect. She has humbled and continuously motivated me through her inimitable generosity and kindness. She was never obligated to take the time to lend me her attentive ear; it was never a part of her job requirement.

By example, she has taught me the beauty of human interaction; that we must not allow stereotypical preconceptions drive our perceptions of people, and that even the smallest acts of kindness can leave an everlasting mark on a person’s life.

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