Thursday, 18 September 2014

The merry face of Grindelwald (write of passage number thirty-two)

It has been established that I hate and dread the after-school buses of September.  I hate and dread the buses before school as well, but younger daughter has been getting lifts in the morning for the past three years, so I'm mostly spared them.

If we're truly unlucky, younger daughter and I are forced to catch the #150 Lincoln Fields which rounds the corner on to Iris and picks up a plethora of JH Putman students who are middle-school students, therefore 12 and 13-year-olds, and by definition loud and self-involved.  They crowd aboard, wrestling, turning suddenly with over-sized back-packs whacking the seated passengers, and pitching their voices so as to be heard throughout the bus.

Our agony is, mercifully, short-lived.  We get off at Queensway Station -- only to board Transitway buses crammed with Algonquin College students who are older, and slightly less obnoxious, usually hooked into their phones and earbuds. We are joined at Lincoln Fields by Woodruff High students, who vary in their loudness and obnoxiousness, and we climb off with some relief at Bank Street to await a #7 -- which is crammed with Glashan students, another blessed middle school. I use the term "blessed" ironically; elder daughter survived her early adolescence there.  Barely.

Two lovely girls see younger daughter and I struggling to the back and offer their seats.  I accept gratefully, but younger daughter has already sat down and when I point out the available seat by the window, she pushes past the astonished girls, shoving me aside with a "Move, Mum!"  I thank the girls again and see others in surrounding seats turning to stare.  I pull out my newspaper, turn to the Suduko, and bury my embarrassment in the squares, deciding to skip a treat at the coffee shop today.

Many passengers get out at Rideau Centre, but they are more than replaced by a parade of Lisgar students, and to my despair, more than a dozen De La Salle students troop on the bus near St Patrick, as the driver attempts to bully them to the rear.  Soon, my ears are being assaulted by teenaged angst and loose back-packs.  Two girls are hanging (well, swinging) from the railing and looking over my shoulder as I attempt to focus on my Suduko.  One of them points at a square:  "That one's a five, you know."

I gaze up into her laughing eyes.

"Thank-you," I say, meaningfully.  Returning to my puzzle, I'm thinking grumpily: The merry face of Grindelwald….

When the last wave of kids board at Beechwood (gawd only knows from which school), I'm beyond caring, although I do curse under my breath. Our stop is next.

Usually, by October, the after-school activities kick in; some students will find lifts; others will drop out. Eventually, there will be a little more room on the buses.  I'm hanging on to that.

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