Submitted by Norman Wagemann.
It was the last day of school and the students from this particular junior high school gleefully boarded the school bus excited to be going home after another year of challenging educational drudgery. As the school bus pulled away from the campus, in route to delivering the children to their homes, the understandable exuberance and light heartedness overtook them. They began ripping the no-longer-needed pages out of their notebooks, wadding them up and throwing them celebratorily around the bus. The bus driver, knowing full well his responsibility for maintaining the cleanliness of both the interior and exterior of the bus, thought it unreasonable for him to be left with the results of this jubilation. Consequently he diverted course back to the school, where the waiting principle, still engaged in end of the year send-offs, greeted the returning bus. The bus driver announced to the children the bus departure would be delayed until the interior of the bus was satisfactorily cleaned of the wadded up paper now littering the bus. There was much consternation on the part of the children, but when the principle concurred with the directive, trash cans were retrieved and the paper litter was eliminated.
In today’s world that bus driver would likely be deemed insensitive, lacking understanding, not showing empathy to the diverse body of children who simply wanted to be included with the revelry of all the others and too insistent the standards of behaviour be observed regardless. I am sure in today’s world there would have been some kind of outcry for the bus driver’s censure. And those concerned about the feelings of the students and their own shock of, “who does this bus driver think he is?” would certainly rally to ensure the censure was voted for.
But wait there is more…
This same bus driver charged with taking high school students to an away football game (a game played at another school’s football stadium) did the unforgivable. In route back to the school from where the trip originated (the school of the students on the bus where they would be collected by their parents or pick up their cars for those of legal driving age) other bus drivers, also transporting students, often engaged in a little good natured race to see which bus got back first. [Note: the legal speed limit for buses was 55 MPH]. Wouldn’t you know it, when other buses started passing THIS BUS DRIVER’S BUS the students on the bus began to chant and encourage him to go faster. They obviously did not want to endure the shame of being the last bus back to the school. But to no avail. This same feeling-less, insensitive bus driver forcibly excluded these students from equal participation in the “BUS RACE” and potentially subjected them to ridicule by their peers.
Even in today’s world this bus driver would likely not be the target of censure (as in the first example) but the other bus drivers who willingly violated school bus speed laws (enacted presumably for the safety of the school children) would certainly not receive any condemnation. Why? Because they were doing it for the children. [Not really, they simply conceded to the peer pressure of the students. That’s right, they let a bunch of children influence them to do what they knew was wrong]
I’m sure the students praised those other drivers for trying to please them. Ah popularity, it “feels” so good.
That other bus driver probably not so much.
The spoil-sport bus driver went home that evening and slept like a baby knowing he had successfully completed his job of safely transporting his charges to and from the game, plus doing the “RIGHT THING.”
Sometimes we are faced with wanting to be popular and fitting in with what the “majority” is doing, OR, choosing to do what is right. This bus driver consistently in his life chose the latter.
His name is John Wagemann and he’s my DAD. And his oldest son is Paul Wagemann, my big brother. The acorn does not fall too far from the tree, thankfully.