Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Job drives a bus

Job spent a last few moments digging the most visible crust out of his nose, then reached across and pull the lever that closed the bus door towards him. It was 7 a.m., still dark at this time of year.

He pulled out of the motor pool and on to the deserted road, which would be filled with minivans and dark SUVs within the hour. The smell of the exhaust had long since settled into his sinuses, and he grabbed the big steering wheel hand over hand and guided it across the small bridge and up the hill to the neighborhood of newly built houses, where children dressed in everything from snowpants to flipflops chased each other around street signs and ignored the younger kids.

Junior high. What a horrible, awkward, hell of an age. Too young to have a healthy respect of the world, too old to have any earnestness left. The boys smelled bad, the girls seemed to ooze with self-hatred and a sexuality that fit like a too-big training bra. Hell of an age.

At the first stop an eighth grader wearing a red hat with earflaps and no coat half-lurched up the bus stairs and down the aisle. A couple of seventh-grade girls followed at a safe distance, sitting near the front of the bus. They huddled together in the seat without saying a word.

The bus pitched forward onto the next stop. Job reminded himself to enjoy the current solitude, because come this afternoon, his head would be pounding with false bravado, cusswords and shrieks. Lots and lots of shrieks as girls waved their arms wildly in attempts to retrieve their belongings from the boys, and shrieks as boys guarded their crotches against the feet and knees of the girls. What a ridiculous mating ritural.

Steam was rising from the sewers as the bus rumbled past the hulking shells of new mansions being built on nearly every street. Mounds of dirt stood as sentries, while construction crews huddled with fast-food coffee in their hands in the sandy lots. One of these houses had been burned down a month ago, before it even got built. From what he read in the paper, Job was pretty sure the culprit was a teenager. Who else would bother?

More pre-teens in sullen bodies boarded the bus at each stop, and Job's disgust grew with each push of the gas. Dull, overweight, ambitionless beings that cared only for the insignificant rubbish that was pumped to them through their cable tv or high-speed internet computer. Their dimwitted manner nearly undid Job.