This Valentine…

This past Valentine’s Day morning didn’t find me arranging a dozen red roses, scarfing treats from a heart-shaped box of chocolates, or opening expensive gifts. Nope. I spent it as I do so many others: driving a school bus. However, there’s a lot of contentment to be found in such employment.


Firstly, I have a great group of kids who always bring me smiles. Then, even though the route I follow is the same every day, there’s always something interesting to see. A small herd of deer or a moose will often cross my path, and the occasional snowy owl can be seen watching us from his vantage point at the top of a tree. Also, weather conditions have lately made the roads somewhat challenging, which further adds to the excitement of each new dawn.

One afternoon, we came over a rise to see that a semi hadn’t made his turn and had hit the ditch on the opposite side of the slippery road. As the trailer completely blocked our path, I was forced to back up about two kilometers before I could turn around. Fun stuff.

This past week my S Endorsement, the license allowing me to drive a school bus, came up for renewal. It expires every five years. There are three written tests to be passed, a circle check to be completed, and an examiner must assess my driving. This was all managed successfully, despite the bitter cold of the day. I was pleased because five February’s ago when I took the last test, an unpleasant incident occurred when I bundled up a little too much. 

Others might not be so generous as to call it bundling up. These other people, specifically known as Brandi, my co-worker, and friend, openly mock my extra clothing.

“How many layers are you wearing today, Helen,” she’ll call across the school foyer with her usual smart-aleck grin. “It’s plus four outside, so I’m thinking you’ll be dressed for at least minus thirty.” She knows, of course, that I am. I hate it when people catch on to my ways. 

But, back to the story. During my examination, when it came time to check the oil, I placed one foot on the bumper for leverage, grasped the hood, and hauled it back. Unfortunately, my movements were restricted (due to the wearing of four pairs of pants, three sweaters, and an oversized coat belonging to my father). As a result, I lost my balance and went over with the hood to land flat on my back in the street. Not the best way to impress a driving examiner. 

This year the tests went off without a hitch. No nasty tumble onto the pavement and my husband Tom went along and got his S Endorsement too. In the days before his exam, I drilled him on bus checks, safety rules and ordered him about on a practice drive. (Secretly I have to admit a certain satisfaction in telling the man where to go and how to get there.) Yes, there’s always something to be glad of in each and every day, Valentine’s Day or otherwise. Even if it’s found during a brief moment in time when you can tell your husband what to do.

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