I’m late for work. It wasn’t this way when I left the house – but now a flotilla of school buses has the jump on me.
I’m thinking that if I step on it, I might be able to pass half of them, but before I can make a break for freedom, the one closest to me trundles to a halt, and slams a stop sign at my windshield.
I watch the other buses begin a leapfrogging ballet, each out-hindering the next, before simply stopping in their tracks and causing a chain reaction of misery on Orlando’s busiest east-west artery.
Traffic lights punctuate the route to ensure a perfect storm of chaos. Within moments, hundreds of vehicles are immobile in all directions. And when my traffic light finally turns to green, it’s immediately vetoed by a monstrous, yellow superstructure which somehow snuck by me. It extends its blinking invitation to STOP before I can shift into Drive.
Savvy motorists and those simply unwilling to see their day derailed, make their move as the mechanical arm extends, pretending not to notice. Me, I don’t make it. Nor did the lady to my left. I can see the panic rising in her chest. In my rear view mirror, lines of martyrs bow their heads, crushed by a sense of helplessness.
Xanex was invented for days like this.
We are a nation whose inner city routes, already congested, are held hostage to this needless nightmare for at least two hours a day. All because one time in history, some poor kid was surrendered to Darwinism. Because his elders never taught him that 16-wheelers generally win the day.
It’s not like this in other countries. I grew up in England where parents, schools – even TV commercials, teach children how to cross the road safely. Sure, we still have the occasional mishap but there are no knee jerk reactions, no ambulance chasing lawyers. We’ve seen America’s road refugees – and we hold firm. We refuse to be held hostage.
Look, I’m ok with school transportation. When I went to middle school, a bus picked me up too. We referred to them as coaches, just regular old coaches, contracted out by the local authority. And when they reached their destinations, they politely pulled into laybys or bus stops, so as not to inconvenience other road users.
Oh, and they had seat belts.
See, it’s bad enough that America employs correctional-style, yellow cages adorned with disco lights and robotic arms, I could almost live with that. Nice to be aware and all. But school buses are the only buses in America that are not required to have seat belts. That’s how much we really care. Even the kids can smell the hypocrisy overpowering their open bags of potato chips as they pile on the pounds.
Welcome to ‘Murka, where we mollycoddle our children and when Little Johnny tangles with reality, some law firm is there to convince us that it was actually somebody else’s fault.
Fine. Keep the yellow buses if you must. They’re iconic after all. Almost cute. Just quit destroying America’s GDP with them. The rest of us shouldn’t have to come to a standstill and watch a parade every time a bus unloads. We have work to do, places to go. And put seat belts in them.
Me, I’ve given up for now. Work from home. I refuse to leave my house during school bus hours. You can call it a self-imposed curfew. I call it Yellow Fever. And for now, it seems there’s no cure.