It was a cold and foggy December morning. I look down at my signature steelers watch I had gotten for chrismas the year before. 7:45 am. The bus was already ten minutes late. Maybe in the fog, my school bus driver didn’t see me at the end of my driveway and just didn’t stop. I lived on route 20 in rural Northeast. Sometimes its easy to miss the kid standing there at this hour, especially with the fog, but that wasn’t like my driver. She would stop even if she didn’t see someone. “I get paid by the hour so I make the same whether I stop or not” she would say to us. Not like we were ever in a hurry to get to school anyway. I look at my watch again 7:50 am. Just as I look up there she is, like a carnival in the mist. The stop sign out. Top blinky thingy light on. Flashers. Four ways. Fog lights. This thing illuminated the dark fog so much I bet it could be seen from space. I begin to walk to the bus. Out of the corner of my eye there’s a flash of metal. Reflection from the Hollywood light show that was bus 104 that morning. It was a car who either didn’t see the bus, or just didn’t care, but it was like it sped up to my bus stop rather then slow down. The bus driver looked on with a face mixed with anger and horror as the driver sipped their coffee and played with the radio or whatever distracted drivers did before cell phones. She turns her head to me and says “its a good thing I turn around down the road to pick you up Jake other wise you would’ve been road kill seven times by now” I make a b-line for the closest empty seat and try to get in 10 more minutes of sleep on this dark morning before the inevitable boredom and annoyance of school sets in. I didn’t give that person who ran that school bus stop sign a second thought. To me it didn’t make sense why they had to stop. It wasn’t like I was crossing the open traffic of a four lane highway. That would just be stupid if I had to cross the road. Any road. Really stupid.
Since I can remember, I knew people made mistakes. I did more then most at a young age. Spilled milk and drinks. Tried to pick up things that were to heavy and dropped them or broke them. As an adult I still do that. I make all kinds of mistakes. I try my best, like everyone, but people make mistakes and so do I. Some probably just don’t care but others just genuinely have an accident that could’ve only been prevented by one of the two parties not being there. That’s why they are called accidents and not on purposes. Unfortunately this accident is a lethal one. If there was a chance to take the probability of someone screwing up out of the equation we would. So why aren’t we doing that with our children? I get the argument of “well people should just stop” well also we shouldn’t do drugs, kill others, or screw up in general but news flash! It happens. Shit happens. Any Forrest Gump fan will tell you that. The whole process of children crossing the street lies one hundred percent dependent on another human being stopping at those lights. While 99.9% of the time they do, its the .1% that is the problem. As parents, do we really want just that 99.9% for our children when we can eliminate human error and achieve 100%? So why is this still going on? School administrators. Im looking at you now. Find a turn around. Change the route. And if all else fails, hire a crossing guard. Our kids are already terrified of getting stuck in an active shooter situation at school, but now we can’t even get them safely on the bus? I’m not taking the blame away from those people who ignore the stop sign, because they are terrible people, and I’ve always thought human lives were invaluable to time or money But I’ve come to realize that even the institutions meant to keep our children safe will put a price cap on their lives just as much as any other institution in our country does. I know that this might not seem as big of a deal to most people because its not a migrant crisis or even a mass shooting but it is a problem and a tragedy. Except that unlike the former dilemmas, an easily preventable one.