Weekly Poll

Should wolves receive federal protection in Wyoming?



May 28, 2013 8:08 am

All joking (aside): Save me a seat

Written by Dante Geoffrey

For some reason, the world just looks different through the windows of a school bus.

Even the town you live in seems like an undiscovered territory when it’s silently gliding by like footage from 1960s home movies.

When I was in Mrs. Cummings’ third-grade class at Gehringer Elementary way back in the mid-’90s, we went on a field trip to the Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco. I don’t remember one second of looking at fish, but I do remember telling my inquiring teacher that my favorite part of the day was the bus ride. This was not an indictment of the trip, San Francisco, or marine life. Just an endorsement of the drive from the blandest of suburbs to the city by the Bay, and through all of the weird/awesome/scary/foreign places in between.

Maybe it’s the few extra feet of elevation a bus adds beneath your feet. Maybe it’s the low hum of the engine that insulates you from the noises of the outside world. My best guess: It’s the youthful eyes that are staring out from inside.

Whatever it is, I miss it, though I didn’t know I missed it until two Fridays ago, when I had the occasion to ride a school bus for the first time since elementary school.

One year into my journalism career, an assignment to cover a seventh-grade field trip found its way to me, and along with it, an interesting dilemma. The teacher who had invited me offered me a seat on one of the three buses, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to take it. Of course I thought a bus ride with seventh graders would be an absolute burden delight, but maybe it wouldn’t be the most practical. Whether it was to save on gas or masochistically relive a time in my life I’d rather forget (basically ages 12-21), I took the seat.

Since I’m (hand)writing this on the bus – from a seat near the back at 8:30 a.m. – I will tentatively say I made the right choice.

It’s now five minutes later. Get me off of this godforsaken bus!

One window at the midway point of the bus is rolled down, sucking in gallons of chilled air and then turning it around to blow it right in my face. Hey, silent kid dressed all in black, want to trade seats?

This wouldn’t be so bad if I had a sweatshirt — which, of course, I don’t. (I write that sentence knowing full well I just bought myself five more years of my mom providing me with incessant reminders to wear a coat, lock the door — and I wish comedy didn’t work in threes, because I don’t have anything good to end this run.) So let’s see, I’m 10 minutes away from getting a runny nose while trapped on a bus full of the world’s most judgmental demographic (next to 25-year-old column writers). I’ll be sick for the weekend, and when I return on Monday the entire office will know of my humiliation, thanks to my co-worker’s daughter who happens to be sitting just two seats away. Someone tell me, why did I agree to do this?

Maybe it was to learn that heroes come in the unlikeliest of forms.

It’s only 9 a.m. and the girls sitting behind me – a rambunctious pair who warned me of their weirdness before I sat down — have already saved my entire day. Their unabashed loudness, which deftly teeters between endearing and insufferable, has somehow willed that window shut. Crisis (and cold) averted.

I can now comfortably return to doing what I do best — sit quietly and observe.

The terrain, both natural and developed, along the road from Powell to Red Lodge is quite different than that between Oakley, Calif., and San Francisco, but no less interesting, and much more beautiful.

Who lives in that house? What do they do? With all that land, why do they want their house so close to the road? The desire for knowledge, and to build upon that knowledge, comes back when sitting on an inexplicably belt-less bench seat. The never-relenting need to deconstruct (that has become my way) fled, if only temporarily.

I was able to revert back to those days of ignorant bliss again during the only stationary 20 minutes of the day.

During a lunch break on the grassy corner of Eighth and North Villard streets, in front of the Carbon County Depot Gallery, I had the pleasure of sitting with a group of girls mercilessly attacking a trio of Lunchables. Small talk about Powell, school and families ensued between their bouts of manic laughter (which had no apparent source). Finally, a moment I was certain would happen sometime that day occurred.

An excited girl, slight of frame, named Julia, wondered about my place on society’s timeline — which, apparently, is a bit ambiguous, given my appearance. (Just 20 minutes before lunch, a tour guide asked me, “You’re not a teacher, are you?” I confirmed her assumption, I think much to her relief. She then went on to tell me how the students from a Billings school sported no piercings or tattoos. You know, “Just a nice group of clean cut kids.”)

“Are you in high school?” Julia asked.

“No,” I said.

“Are you in college?”


“Are you out of college?”


“How old are you?!”


“Wow! I was way off!”

She was, but not offensively so. Looking younger than your age can be frustrating at times, but in this instance I felt honored to be mistaken for a student — to fit in amongst the only segment of society that is still open and interested in even the smallest of life’s wonders.

At one point or another, we all exit the classroom in order to find our ways as adults. We get jobs, we get girlfriends, and at some point, we get jaded. Focuses shift, and passions are reclassified as “pipe dreams.”

I hope that as young adults across this nation toss their caps into the air, their youthful, sanity-saving curiosity isn’t tossed along with it.

Because you don’t have to be a student to see the world through the windows of a school bus.

1 Comment

  • Comment Link May 28, 2013 10:48 am posted by karabacon

    Who knew it was possible? Thanks for the vicarious motion sickness and a reminder of my bus ride from Powell to Red Lodge on a Trib assignment. The kid I sat next to quoted the Red Green Show the entire ride. That kid is awesome!

Leave a comment

*The Powell Tribune reserves the right to remove inappropriate comments.