A number of years ago, I had a great part-time job driving a charter bus for The Free Enterprise System.
I worked mostly local charters and was one of the few part-timers that was assigned my own bus. I have always felt that a pet, a vehicle or a piece of equipment that you enjoy using should have a special name. My bus was known as “Gracie”.
One day, my fellow drivers and I were notified that a special convention was coming to Indianapolis. It was a large group of charter bus companies and Free Enterprise was both a member and host company. This was going to involve quite a bit of work for our drivers.
I was instructed to drive a group from the convention center to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a special dinner. I was assigned to drive a new bus that was on display at the convention. I had never driven a bus of that make or model, so I arrived early to check it out.
I met with a couple of employees of the bus manufacturer and they gave me a quick tour of the vehicle while explaining a few of the small problems that had surfaced; however, he assured me that there were no major problems. He then mentioned that several buzzers and red lights might appear on the dashboard. I started and shut down the bus several times, but no buzzers or lights came on.
Soon after my brief orientation, my passengers boarded the bus and we were on our way. Within a few blocks, the buzzers and lights started vying for my attention. I began flipping switches and trying to remember what those guys had advised me to do.
While stopped at a traffic light, I tried to minimize the buzzing noise. The car to my right had made a right turn; so after looking both ways, I took off.
At about the time that I was halfway into the intersection, I realized the light was still red. Since I didn’t see any moving vehicles on the cross street, I decided that it might be safer to proceed than to slam on the brakes. I glanced into my rearview mirror just in time to see a police car peek out from behind the bus and start flashing its red and blue lights.
I pulled to the curb and quickly began explaining my situation. The female officer laughed and said that she had pulled me over to see if I knew something that she wasn’t aware of about dealing with traffic lights. She didn’t ask for my license or the vehicle registration, saying that she saw me check traffic in both directions and that I had not placed anyone in danger.
I know that the owners of our company were embarrassed, and I took a bunch of flack during the dinner and the remainder of the trip.
Several years later after I had started driving a school bus for Beech Grove City Schools, I began picking up a young kindergarten student on my route. Parents are asked to be at the bus stop for their kindergarten and first-grade students. This young boy’s mom looked sort of familiar to me. One day I noticed that his mom was wearing a police officer’s uniform.
Yes! I was pretty sure it was her. I waited a few weeks before I asked her if she ever patrolled on the near northwest-side of Indianapolis. We laughed and hugged. We started relating our story to anyone that would listen.
She and her family moved out of state a few years later. I’m sure that occasionally she still retells our story.