Tora has the right idea.
Friday night I got a call from Mrs. C. a woman I know who runs an “after-school” program for kids ages 6 to 16. She wanted to know if I would, one day a week, drive a small bus hauling eight to ten kids from their junior high school to a local church here in town. The program isn’t affiliated with the church, but it allows her to use the facilities–well, for a price that is.
Before the pandemic, I voluntarily drove the bus, and frankly, it was not enjoyable. The kids, Black, Hispanic, and White were loud, unruly, and on occasion, disrespectful. Here’s an example.
One hot spring day last year, the kids were climbing onto the bus for the ride to the church. It was the last of three groups that I picked up. One young man, probably thirteen years old, asked me if he could mark the roll. We had to keep a tally of who rode the bus. I gave him the clipboard and said, “sure.” Another young man tried to sit next to him and was rebuffed. A screaming argument ensued.
I twisted around and told my roll-caller to let the other student sit beside him. They were both African American. Pissed off, the young man, who had pleaded to check off names, threw the clipboard to the floor. It was hot. I was tired.
As I clambered out of the driver’s seat, I told him to pick the board up. He did. “Don’t you ever do that again,” I said. “That was wrong and disrespectful.” I faced all of the kids. “When you volunteer to do something,” I yelled. “You should do it.” I turned to the young man who had picked up the board. “Do you understand?” “Yessir,” he answered, but I could tell he was still fuming.
When I got to the church, I opened the doors for the kids to exit the bus. As he passed by me, instead of handing me the clipboard, he tossed it onto the floor and ran out. I was too damned tired to chase after him.
He didn’t ride the bus the next week, but the second week after the incident he did ride. I waited for him. When he got on, I held out the clipboard. “Would you take the roll for me?” He agreed, and we got along just fine. That incident worked out, but the kids were always loud and boisterous.
So, when Mrs. C. called two nights ago and asked if I would be willing to drive the bus, starting Monday, August 17, I said no. “No, I can’t do it,” I told her. She told me that out of the five drivers, four of us had refused. One man said yes. That man was my diabetic, overweight, seventy-five-year-old friend down the street. I told Mrs. C. that my friend shouldn’t be driving a bus full of kids. “We’re all wearing masks,” she said. “It’s a requirement.”
I posited the idea of her “finding some younger guys to drive the bus. COVID 19 might not be as much a threat for them as it is with us older folk.” She said she had tried, but I don’t know. She kept her reassurances up: “We’re wearing masks,” she said. “We have hand sanitizers. We’re social distancing.”
“Not on the damn bus!” Okay, I didn’t say that. I told her once again that I was sorry, but I just couldn’t feel comfortable driving that bus, and I didn’t think it was a good idea for my pal to be driving either.
Once off the phone. I called my neighbor down the road. “Why are you doing this?”
“Somebody has to do it,” he said.
“Then let somebody else do it,” I argued. “They can find a younger person. They could advertise! They could start paying a young person to do it.” (We older guys volunteered our time.)
I tried my best to explain to him, (He’s a Republican and FOX News runs continuously in his house.) that with the opening of schools, Corona Virus could well hit this area like a raging tsunami in September. And those kids are kids! They will pull their masks down past thier chins to talk. They will let the masks hang from one ear. They are not evil, but they are impulsive, okay? They will, as kids love to do, yell and sing and laugh and yes, cough and sneeze–in a closed environment–a small bus.
I told him what Dr. Osterholm, the CDC expert, (Fox news avoids him.) had forecast:
“We are in the third inning of a nine-inning ball game. If we keep going, without another lockdown followed by a national testing plan, then we can expect fifty to seventy percent of the country to be infected with Corona Virus by the Fall and a very high death rate.”
You can check this out on Youtube. Just paste the following title into the search box:
Dr. Osterholm On Calling For Another Lockdown | Morning Joe | MSNBC
My friend was touched by my concern, but not enough to come to his senses and not drive that bus. I don’t understand. I absolutely do not understand.