Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Peacbus Is Back!!

It was February 13 and I had just finished getting myself organized for The Peacebus’ return. The sun was soon to set and so I thought I would take Koly out back to take a look.

WOW!!! The sky was filled with the most brilliant pinks of clouds and deepest blues and violets of the atmosphere. Although this photo is nice, it doesn’t come anywhere near the brilliance that I saw.

“Red sky at night… Sailors delight!” I took this as a wonderful sign.

When I woke up the next morning I had a smile on my face. I knew that my first run of the day would have me seeing many faces that I had come to know last June.

When these students knew me, they had known the ‘summer’ Mr. Jim. I had very short hair and I wore shorts and T-shirts. Since they hadn’t seen me in over six months I was wondering if anyone would recognize the ‘winter’ Mr. Jim – with my toque, and longer hair (helps keep my ears warm) and big jacket.

I welcomed everyone in my usual Mr. Jim fashion, “Hey! Hey! Bonjour mes amis!!! Hello! Hello! Good morning!”

After I had picked up over half of the students I could hear a little whispering, “Is that Mr. Jim?”, “Hey this is the Peacebus!” One of the students very boldly spoke, “Mr. Jim??????” and I answered, “Oui! C’est moi.” “Are you gonna be our bus driver now?” “Oui! C’est ca!” and a small eruption of cheers filled my ears.

The students who I met a little later – on my second run – were just as nice, with big smiles and friendly hellos. That afternoon, one girl in grade three came to me with a lollipop in her hand and as she gave it to me she thanked me for being their new busdriver.

Joanne noticed a huge difference in me, as I walked in the door that evening. “You had fun?” “Just the most fun ever!” I replied.

The next morning a student gave me a Valentine’s heart decoration for the bus. She was totally delighted on the home trip, when she saw that I had put her heart art on the front window of the bus.

Over the next few days, many more wonderful window decorations were created for the bus. All of this enthusiasm and I hadn’t said anything to the students about giving me art or decorations, they were just doing it!

One morning, two young sisters were getting on the bus and both of them had window decorations to give to me. Image my surprise when, one of the girls said, “Mr. Jim, this artwork is from me and this one is from my mom!”

It was the third afternoon and the first few rows of students were a bit tired so they were a bit quieter than normal. Then the silence was broken with a tiny voice that filled the air, “Mr. Jim, why do you like peace so much?”

I was surprised by the sudden question and I paused to think. Several students sat up to hear what I would say when an even smaller voice pierced our space, growing with much enthusiasm, “Cuz peace means a happy and healthy world.” A huge smile crossed over my face.

“Yeah! Ditto! What she said,” was my final response and we all laughed.

So, I guess that it would be quite redundant if I was to say that I love the fact that The Peacebus is back!

As well as my regular runs, I am kept quite busy with other transportation needs for school students. Sometimes just one class will need a lift to and from a local aquatic centre for gym class. Other times seven buses will be needed to transport the entire student population to some sort of community event.

I love when the students are hurrying onto the bus and suddenly they notice the art-covered roof of the bus. They slow right down to look at all the images and I always hear, “Hey look at that one!”, “Check this one out. Too Cool!”

It’s been a lot of fun immersing myself into this lifestyle again. To be a small part in so many young lives. To have so many young lives inspiring and creating me.

I can’t wait to see what happens next!


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