illustration by Mike Force
Fired from my VP job in manufacturing at age 55, I sent out dozens of résumés, failed 13 interviews (including one 3,000 miles away in Miami), lost my condo and girlfriend, and finally, after desperately selling my plasma, took a part-time job as a school bus driver for special-needs kids.
Yeah, I drive the short bus. Laugh away, asshole. And you can take your retard jokes and shove them up your bigoted ass. Okay, okay, I didn't want the job at first. I thought it would be a rolling One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. And sure, the kids, mostly autistics, are odd. But they're odd like a poet is odd. They see the world in startling, revelatory ways. I'm not romanticizing the kids. They can also be short-tempered. They have irritating physical tics and speech patterns. And their social skills are lacking. Yeah, again, they're just like poets.
During the bus rides, I was supposed to play Radio Disney, but screw that, I played them rock. Man, you haven't lived until you've heard 12 Asperger's kids singing heavy metal.
One early morning, a stern mother stepped onto my bus and asked me if I'd been teaching them how to sing AC/DC.
"Yes," I said.
"'Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap'?" she asked.
"Is that okay?" I asked, realizing that, wow, maybe it was inappropriate.
"He's got the whole family singing with him," she said. "It's wonderful."
Yeah, that made me get a little weepy. And I'm sure you're thinking that I'm happy I lost my corporate job and finally found the true meaning of life while driving a bus. That's bullshit, of course. Even as I sing along with the kids, I still want a better job. I want money and power. So I feel prematurely retired. But if I am meant to remain fallow, then thank God it is with these inappropriate children. They are not my teachers, and I'm not theirs. We are learning the routes together.