School Buses…

Let’s talk yellow lights, shall we?… After the break…

School Buses…

I was all set to write about the Oswalt the Lucky Rabbit short, “Sleigh Bells,” that had been recently re-discovered. Recovered seemingly lost media is always good news, uplifting news, happy news… And I really wanted to write it…

…Until I began to drive home… And encountered one of my most-feared enemies: The school bus.

I hate the school bus. I really, really do. First, they are slow… Far slower than even me. I drive slow. I drive cautious. School buses, though, drive as though they are in a perpetual coma. Even sleepwalkers can speed past these yellow, lumbering beasts. And they’re always stopping. Oh, look, they’re stopping… Again. And again. And again. And again. No, no, don’t mind the fifty cars behind you… Keep driving as though there’s a bomb wired to the vehicle and that if you drive over 30 miles per hour, kittens will explode somewhere. Don’t mind us… We’re just taxpayers, that’s all.

Yet if driving BEHIND a school bus is mildly annoying, driving TOWARDS them is darn well frightening but not for the same reason as, say, “Car vs. Tree” in which you’re pretty certain that the tree will not only win but all of the surrounding trees will get to laugh for all of eternity at the mangled wreckage that was previously known as your car. No, driving TOWARDS a school bus is frightening because just as driving BEHIND a school bus equates that school bus to be a rolling yellow speed bump that you can never quite drive over (unless you are Bigfoot which, in that case, good for you), driving TOWARDS a school bus equates that school bus to be a rolling traffic light… A traffic light that can go off at any… Any… An… NOW!

In the bad old days, school buses had only two settings: Red flashing light and “Off.” Too many people complained about the red flashing light (which means “stop,” because, apparently, society values little brats being able to cross the street safely for some strange, arcane reason) not because it was red or that the light was flashing but because you either had “off” or “stop.” There was no middle ground; You were either screwed or not. Too many people complained about this ‘either/or’ situation which forced school buses to adopt another light, the yellow “caution” light…

…Which makes things even worse because the “yellow” light on a school bus isn’t like the yellow light of a traffic light. Oh no. A yellow light on a school bus can be on for as long as the school bus driver wants it on. It can be on for half of a minute or a tenth of a second or anywhere in between and more.

Most of the time, I wouldn’t complain about this one iota. However, every now and then, you get to the annoying “School Bus Yellow Light Trap.” Yes, you see the yellow light. Yes, you try to slow down but you are in that swarthy “neutral decision zone” where you must decide instantaneously whether to come to a screeching halt or gun the car’s engine and hope for the best. And that’s why the “School Bus Yellow Light Trap” is so annoying: Unlike a traffic light, you have no idea how long that yellow light will be on. At all. And neither does the guy behind you or the guy behind him.

Do I slam on my brakes and hopefully stop before I reach the bus (and get rear-ended by the guy behind me) or do I gun the engine, get caught by the red light and potentially face a ticket from the cops?

In my case, I got caught by the red light. Or did I? Will the bus driver be sympathetic and go “Eh… Close enough,” or will that bus driver get the license number of my car and report me to the cops? I guess that I’ll find out soon enough.

And in the meanwhile, I will continue to hate the school bus.


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