Sunday, December 15, 2013

BUS STORY # 371 (An Apple For A Teacher)

The rain drops have just started to splatter when the bus pulls up. “You got here in the nick of time,” I tell the driver, who’s turning on the wipers.

Two stops later, a woman gets on who obviously got caught in the rain. But she’s excited. “It’s raining! Whoo-hoo!”

She takes the bench seat across from the driver, directly in front of me. She reminds me of my school teacher sister-in-law. Same haircut, same glasses, same cheerful disposition.

A few stops later, a handful of junior high students board. All but one head straight for the back. The holdout takes the seat facing forward, across the aisle from me.

He’s wearing jeans and a dark, plain-front T-shirt. Burr haircut, recent.

The woman leans forward and asks him if he skateboards.

“No, ma’am.”

Does he ride a bike?

“Yes, ma’am.”

She asks him if he’s from here.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Well, Lord have mercy, you have good manners. Who taught you those manners?”

“My parents.”

I sense he’s a little uneasy now. The bus is relatively empty, and everyone can hear.

The woman says she could tell right away he was raised right. She was a teacher, and she could always tell the ones who were raised right. They were polite and made good grades and stayed out of trouble.

He’s a good kid, brave. No wincing, no ducking. Nothing to do but get through it. Once, he starts to look back, then thinks better of it.

Another stop, and the bus fills with high school students. They fill, as always, back to front. Two students last to board take the bench seat across from the retired teacher. Both of them are wearing the oversized shirts and shorts. Her hair is dyed white-blonde; he’s got a lip ring and a sideways cap. He puts his arm around her.

The teacher leans forward and asks them how school is. The girl answers, politely, pleasantly. They begin a conversation.

I am thinking the teacher genuinely likes the kids, and that they sense this. Either that, or they have been as well raised as the kid in the first row facing them. I can’t tell from his expression, but I am guessing he’s grateful for the new couple.

The girl reaches in her backpack and offers the woman an apple.

I am twice struck by what has just happened. Even though the girl had not yet boarded the bus when the woman told us she had been a teacher, here she is, a student offering a teacher an apple. More: she’s one of the high school kids from Manzano. “Manzano” is Spanish for “apple.”

The teacher is gracious and appreciative. And concerned: she hopes this isn’t the girl’s snack she’s taking.

Oh, no, explains the girl. “They donated a bunch of apples to the school, and we could all take as many as we wanted.” She opens her backpack and shows the teacher a bunch of apples. Then she looks all around her and asks the rest of us if we want an apple.

“You are so sweet,” the teacher tells her.

A girl and her toddler board at the next stop. She looks high school. The toddler’s in a hoodie. The polite kid stands up and offers them his seat, then heads for the back. That’s a win-win; he’s safely out of range, she’s seated thanks to him.

The girl puts the toddler on her lap.

The teacher leans forward and ask how old he is.

A conversation begins.


The photo at the top of this story is titled “Red Apple New Look Flx !07 Ex AC Transit 35 ftr” © All Rights Reserved, and is posted with the permission of remie4494. You can see all remie4494’s photos on Flickr here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


5:50 AM  
Blogger Top-of-the-Arch said...

I really enjoy this story for two reasons: (1) I have had many nice conversations with strangers, especially when talking about hockey and football; (2) even in graduate school, I always respond, “Yes, sir/ma’am” to my professors and would never address them by their first name. It is nice to know there are young people who are “raised right”, polite, make good grades and stay out of trouble. Ok, I better get off my soap box - I sure sound like a grumpy geezer!

4:25 PM  
Blogger Busboy said...

I’ve noticed a nostalgia for “good manners” among the “grumpy geezers” demographic. I’m not sure there will be any such nostalgia a couple of generations of geezers from now, anymore than we can be nostalgic for hand-cranked ice cream.

5:40 PM  

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