I used to drive a school bus. Yup, you read that right. When I taught in Washington DC the school was so small that PE requirements were fulfilled through after school teams and young teachers got our commercial drivers license so we could drive the teams we coached.
Most of the school’s bright blue fleet was short buses, but Amy and I coached the (giant) middle school soccer team, so we drove the full-sized bus all over the DC area. We regularly garnered startled second looks from drivers as they passed us on the highway, but that didn’t bother us: we knew we were more than competent. Mel, Head custodian and general fixer of everything (who was also in charge of the buses) knew it, too, which is why he trusted Amy and me to park the size bus after all the kids had been picked up.
Because the school was in the middle of one of DC’s downtown neighborhoods, there was only one nearby space that could accommodate the big bus. The operation required two people and a lot of nerve. We negotiated narrow one-way streets until we arrived perpendicular to a long alleyway. Here, we maneuvered our blue behemoth in a fifteenish-point turn, then threaded our way between two buildings, the sides of the bus mere inches from the brick walls on either side. About a third of the way up the alley, a pipe snaked up the side of the building on the right; a few feet further on, a meter jutted out of the building on the left. There was no room for error.
Once we made it through the alley, we emerged into the relative freedom of a very small parking lot, where we slid the bus into a spot right against a wall. Finishing was always exhilarating.
Which explains why I blushed with pleasure tonight as a group of us left the restaurant and the woman at the next table touched my arm and said, “I watched you park your minivan. It was amazing.” I looked out the window, suddenly realizing that everyone inside had been able to see me parallel park in a very tight spot, then I grinned, “well, I used to drive a school bus.”