It was field trip day for my girls’ preschool! Unfortunately, the school bus was full, so James and I followed in our car – a black SUV. A light conversation brewed between us, but as the bus sped through the newly-changed red light, I was forced to hit the brakes. An inkling stirred within me: This journey would require more attention than normal. I would soon learn how spot-on my inkling was.
We easily caught up to the bus at the next light and followed out of the neighborhood and onto the freeway. I tried to keep a comfortable distance, but the bus driver constantly altered her speed. Once we merged onto the busier highway, keeping up with her became a full-on challenge. At that point, all chitchat ceased. I focused intently on projecting and preparing for this crazy bus driver’s schemes.
After the highway merged, the bus driver did something I completely did not anticipate – she swerved into the very last zipper lane* entrance, right at the very last minute! Really lady! James and I wondered aloud how the school could have hired such a terrible driver?! I tried to keep up with her in the zipper lane while driving in the HOV lane, but she slowed to 50 mph and I couldn’t stay with her. At 52 mph in the far left lane, other cars were zooming around me, obviously annoyed with the giant black turtle poking along in the cheetah’s lane. We continued this way (her slowing down and speeding up, me almost getting run over while trying to at least keep her in my rear-view mirror) until we reached the end of the zipper lane and the bus merged over…but behind us!
We tried to interpret her turns and make them, but she didn’t take exits that we expected and she refused to pass us when we slowed down to let her over. This lady was obviously insane. We would have to rescue our children from her for the trip back to school. She exited unexpectedly then put left turn signals on but turned right. Maniacal! She pulled the turn signal trick once more, but by that time, the field trip destination was in sight. We parked and headed around to meet the kids as they disembarked.
Once inside, one of the parents came up to me and said,
“The bus driver was scared of you. She took this convoluted crazy route because, ‘Someone in a big black car is following us!!!’. We told her to calm down. It’s just another parent. Some of the parents are following the bus down, and so on. But she didn’t listen, insisting on evasive driving maneuvers.”
Whaaa??? What a loon! I decided that our kids would be safe with her for the ride back after all.
Throughout the field trip, though, my mind kept wandering back to what the parent told me. It would be so easy for me to make something racial out of it, even though James was with me. The other mom didn’t hesitate or show any discomfort when she said “black car” even though my racially-steered mind translated it into “black person”. In the end, I decided it was more funny than insulting, and that I was glad our kids had a hyper-aware, borderline paranoid, bus driver with the skills to protect them.