Monday, November 22, 2010

Authority Figures

Authority figures.

High School in a small town is an important learning experience. That statement should be obvious since High School is when we learn to drive, despise old literature and dissect small animals.

What I’m referring to is the learning experiences that weren’t part of a planned curriculum like human interactions, the power of personal insecurities and how to expertly exploit a position of dominance. First hand I witnessed one person stab another in the back back and then watched both parties pretend to still like each other to further mutual social gain. I learned that people that feel a need to get even for how they were treated in high school do so by becoming high school teachers.

The schools in small towns tend toward three basic types of teacher. The first is the Loving Teacher. There are several characteristics of the Loving Teacher first being that she went into teaching to be be around young people. Teaching is her dream job and there isn’t much pressure to move up through the ranks. Don’t be surprised if she was your mom’s teacher or grew up in the same town.

The Loving Teacher says things like “Oh, just sit anywhere, I’ll adjust my chart”, “I really think you can do better on that last assigment, Is there anything I can do to help? ” and the dead give away “Who needs a hug?”

The Loving Teacher isn’t necessarily a pushover and she can vary in her tolerance of tardiness and disruptions but the one core trait is that every one loves her. Even the rotten kids fondly remember their times with the Loving Teachers. Usually from a barstool or a prison cell.

The second basic teacher type has ended up in a small school not because they dreamed of the position since being a child but because they just aren't good enough to teach anywhere else. Sometimes they’ve failed at what they really wanted to do and woke up one day and said “Screw it, I’ll just be a teacher”. That internal dialogue is how they earn the title of The Screw It Teacher.
The Screw It Teacher is characterized by not explaining him or herself. They start their career later in life and if they tell any stories about themselves at all it’s about how much better life was before they started teaching. Tests are spent with the Screw It Teacher looking through the classified ads and scratching off lottery tickets.

The third small town teacher type is created in High School. Some pivotal event happened to them while they were students to make them want to go into education. Perhaps it was underwear wedged so far up their butt that the waistband looked like a bra strap. Maybe the epiphany happened during a crying spell after being called ugly, dumb, stinky or faggot. Maybe it was as simple as being picked last yet again for a team in gym class or on the playground.

Regardless of the exact trauma and who caused it a monster was born that day. All of these picked on dorks looked in the mirror one day and said the same thing to themselves "I'll show them. One day I'll run this school and then everyone will be sorry". An Evil Teacher was born that day.

Evil Teachers usually become gym teachers but that’s not exclusive. We had Evil Teachers in English, Evil Teachers in History and even one very Evil Teacher of Drama and Theater. There is no need to learn how to spot an Evil Teacher because you will already know from the neighbors, older cousins and siblings that have faced Evil Teacher before you.

Evil Teacher strives to embarrass and punish all of the people that would have been mean to them if they were still students. That evolves into being mean to everyone since the revenge they dreamed of while struggling through college isn’t nearly as sweet as the reality of teaching life. Like a well worn drug addict they need to issue more detentions, more suspensions and more failing grades just to get the same high.

-------excerpt from Raised by White Trash.. by Steven Berger

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Summer. Excerpt from Raised By White Trash

There are two distinct kinds of Summers while you’re growing up in the Planes of North America. The Summers you endure before you get a car and the Summers after you’re finally mobile.

I was told that, originally, Summer vacation was to allow the children of farming families to help with the harvest. Family was a concept so important that education was put on hold so they could join together and bring in a bounty of beans and corn. I believe, instead, that the tradition was instituted by early Darwinists who believed the Missouri gene pool needed a little culling.

I’m not complaining. In fact my feelings today are opposite of what they were when I was a kid. When I’m traveling or find myself in a shadowy situation I think back to the fact that I’ve survived hunting accidents (both bow and arrow and rifle), poisonings, tornadoes, binge drinking, Vacation Bible School and desert quality heat. I shake my fist at at whatever I find menacing me and say “Do your best, I’ve survived Summers in Missouri”.

The heat is the dirty secret of the region. If asked people on the street where the hottest spots in the country are the average American would mention the Mojave or Death Valley. These are deserts and they have an identity to uphold that’s based on their high temperatures. But if you throw in some dry grass, a few cows and some white trash children melted to a sidewalk anybody would easily mistake Death Valley for Missouri in August.

My mother wasn’t devout in many beliefs but by twelve years old I was beginning to think she was a Darwinist herself. Her two core Summer beliefs were that children should enjoy the fresh air during the day and that cool conditioned air, like R rated movies and alcohol, was for adults only.

The first few weeks weren’t too bad and we were actual hopeful. The relief at being out of school was still fresh and plans were made to build forts and tree houses. We would draw up plans start a club and keep people out of it. Making them jealous and possibly beg for inclusion. We would get tan!

These ideas faded with the inevitable heat. By eleven o’clock all shade was gone and the direct sunlight was at its hottest. This is when it became obvious that we had to start our pleas to get in the house.

Becky would start “Mom, MOOOMMM, Can we come in?” this was met with no response. This is when she would become a traitor and try again “Mom!.. can I come in?” She knew she was the favorite and was going to try to cash in on it.

“Mom, MOOOOOMMM” Bubba would try next. “I have to pee”

“Go in the woods” came the disembodied voice from somewhere behind the closed door and drawn curtains.

“I have to poop, too!” He would yell in return. This was the double edged tactic of needing facilities and getting him to a place where he couldn’t embarrass her in front of the neighbors.

If it bothered her there was no indication coming from the house.

During the school year I read a story about a family trapped in the desert. To survive they hid under the car and took sips from their limited water supply until night came. We had no water supply so I tried that angle when it was my turn to bang on the door.

“Mom, we need water or we could die out here!”. That would get her. Once she opened the door we could try to negotiate an entrance or at least feel a blast of cold air from inside her darkened ice fortress.

“Use the hose” She said from behind the door.

Exhausted from our failed attempts at negotiating our way back inside we would return to our makeshift shelters. Me under the picnic table, Bubba in the doghouse and, because she was the smallest, Becky would hide in the soft evergreen shrubs surrounding the front porch. The three of us praying for a breeze, waiting for night to fall and hoping to survive another day.

We always survived. The sun would continue it’s journey and send us some new shade and we could move around again without bursting into flame. Eventually the air conditioning was turned off, curtains and windows were opened and we were called inside for dinner. We would enter the screen door and press our faces against the walls to feel what was left of the cool air.


When dusk fell and cool breezes fell over the neighborhood we completely abandoned the house we were fighting to get into all day. The new fight was to stay out as long as we could. After dark the furnace blasted wasteland that nearly killed us was replaced by a sort of wonderland at night.

On some nights we would race outside with our bikes to play in the clouds of mosquito poison billowing out of the back of government trucks. If we got close enough to the origin of the fog we were cycling blind. Like a moving game of hide and seek with the added bonus of airborne pesticides.

Nighttime was also when other kids, the kids with parents who wanted them to survive until adulthood, came out to play. If we were all on speaking terms we played games like regular non-poisonous hide and seek. We also played a game that involved us sitting around one of the other kids, two fingers under the volunteer while we attempted to levitate him. It never worked even though, somehow, every one of us had a story about a time when it did work and the levitated kid floated away.

If the kids in the neighborhood didn’t get along then the games were replaced with pranks. We weren’t bad kids really but we did want to shake things up a bit. Our pranks involved things like taking all of the potted plants off of the Leverknight’s front porch and arranging them on the O’dell’s front porch.

Fishing boats would be moved to another part of a yard and dog houses turned over. If we really didn’t like you for any number of reasons, real or imagined, and we were feeling particularly brave we would use an old 409 bottle to spray water on your porch light making the bulb explode.

The best Summer night in history in mid July 1979. It started off with me convincing two of the neighbor boys my age to have a wrestling match in their underwear. I started by convincing them to play Super Heroes and mentioning that underwear look a lot like what Batman and Superman wear. That turned into World Super Hero Wrestling when a girl we didn’t know walked by. Which didn’t normally happen in a neighborhood with only fourteen houses.

“Hi, I’m Lisa”

She smiled and Time stopped.

She was amazing. She looked like the women from my stepdad’s dirty magazines but with clothes... and standing upright. Until now I thought the women in those magazines were from a different planet. I had certainly never seen anyone around town with curves like that. The women from Butter Buns and American Chic were alien creatures who liked long walks on the beach which somehow made it difficult to keep their legs together when reclined.

But I was wrong. Real people could have bodies like that. Lisa had a body like that! Her hair was black and reached to her waist. She could swirl it, flip and send waves down to the tips when she spoke.

She was nice. She was seventeen. She was a succubus in Sassoon Jeans. She was a Goddess that sprung fully formed from the limestone gravel of our road. She was sex.

The boys in their underwear, Dirk and Scott, couldn’t speak. She was just that hot, and they were in their underwear. I had on clothes so I was able to suggest a game of spin the bottle. Statistics dictated that with three boys, one girl and one bottle one of the boys was going to get kissed by another boy. I liked those odds.

Scott and Dirk put on their pants, we found a bottle and headed toward Lisa’s house. She wanted to play in her parents camper since the mosquitos were starting to bite here. She was too classy and sophisticated to play behind the poison truck and now she was paying the price.

In the camper we sat at the booth that made the dining table, me and Lisa on one side and the other boys opposite us. Being the girl we all agreed Lisa got to spin first. The bottle slowed to a stop and pointed at her. “I can’t believe I’m doing this” she laughed.

We couldn’t believe it either.

She spun again and this time when it stopped it was pointing at Dirk. She leaned over the table and gave him an elongated kiss right on the lips. It was at this point I thought we might be in over our heads but I kept it to myself.

It was Dirks turn to spin. The bottle opening pointed square at Lisa. Interesting. “Did he do that on purpose”, I asked myself. Can I do that on purpose? Bottle manipulation was a very useful skill to have.

Dirk and Lisa kissed again. This time kissed lasted a little longer and Dirk twisted his head like he was fastening a wing nut with his teeth.

Now it was Lisa’s turn. She reached for the bottle she wound up ... did she just look at me? The bottle spun because that was the name of the game it stopped pointing at me. Did she do that on purpose? I looked at the Dirk and Scott. They were looking at each other. They thought so.

I wasn’t scared. I had kissed people before. I looked at her, leaned forward, closed my eyes, puckered up and waited for her lips to touch mine. They did it was the single greatest moment of my life.

For about twelve seconds.

“You know what” Lisa said “You guys don’t know how to kiss”

What was she talking about. I already kissed a bunch of people and nobody ever complained. I didn’t know yet that people don’t complain about how you kiss to your face. They complain to their friends instead.

My heart was sinking as my ego shattered when she finished her statement. “So I’m going to teach you”.

The three of us were all glad we weren’t in our underwear at the prospect.

“First of all” she started the lesson and grabbed my face “relax your face. You pucker up like someone is going to punch you”. She shook my head a little “relax” and when I didn’t she shook my head again, “relax”.

“Now, turn your head a little but come in slow. Lips are firm but soft at the same time” She brought her finger up to my lips to test the firmness.” More firm, yes, like that”.

Her voice dropped then to a tone more lusty. More sultry. “when your lips touch rub them against each other a little. Use your tongue” . The boys across the table gulped as she leaned, slid her finger off my lips and brushed hers against mine. Next her tongue brushed against my lip and our mouths connected... then she stopped.

“Now when you’re kissing someone think like you’re an electric cord and you want to put all that electricity through the other persons body all they way down to their feet.”

She leaned back in and pressed her lips to mind and I swear I could feel it. That kiss started at my mouth and went all the way to my toes. My kneecaps started to overheat before she finally pulled away. After a handful of minutes my eyes stopped looking up into my skull and I was able to focus on my instructor.
“How old are you guys anyway” she asked.

Scott was feeling cheated since he hadn’t had a chance to kiss anyone yet so jumped at the chance to tell her and maybe get a favor. “I’m eleven and they’re thirteen”.

Her smiled faded. and I saw the chances of getting another kiss going down with the edges of her mouth. “You guys are too young! You have to go” I was still in a daze and just followed the other two boys out of the camper and in the general direction of our homes.

Lisa graduated High School the following year and moved away. Scott and Dirk told the story about that night in the camper and it wasn’t long before a simple kiss with one of them, over a table became a full on orgy involving both of them. Since I was the only person present who wasn’t going to lie about what really happened I was written out of the story early on.

As far as I could tell they were lucky they didn’t get the full brunt of that kiss. A lesser man, and I considered them lesser men, would have crumbled under the impact and spent a lifetime in her thrall. Hopeful and desperate to recreate the moment. Hell, just watching her kiss me haunted them for a good five years.

Not to say I walked home that night totally unchanged. I learned that night how powerful a really good kiss could be. I learned that what is in your mind during a kiss someone can be conveyed through you and all the way to their toes.

I also learned I was one hundred percent gay. While Scott and Dirk thought of nothing but getting back with Lisa all I could think of was taking my new found skills out on the road for a test drive.

I remain dedicated to the memory of Lisa and my first real kiss. Every time I get a “that was amazing” I say a little “thank you” and hope that, wherever she is, she’s happy and making out with someone worthy of her.

Friday, November 12, 2010

That old time Religion part 3

The nice thing about living in a small town is that you can easily keep track of people if you’re nosey enough. I’m nosey enough. When he was fifteen Chad showed up at school with a cast on his right arm. He told everyone that he fell and broke it. A little poking around and I found out that he did indeed fall. He fell two stories into the neighbors drive way after he slipped trying to look in the window at a sixty five year old retired oil refinery worker.

I can understand glancing in a window because you’re a little curious. I can even understand trying to sneak a peak at Kathy McDonald the cheerleader across the street or even Mrs Schulman who lived further down the block who was in her thirties and hated by all the women that weren’t as thin and beautiful as she was. But risking your life to see someone’s grandma naked.

That’s just fucked up.

The beginning of the end of Chad’s time on our street was marked by police cars. Our homes were on a single street of a huge subdivision that never got built past the first two dozen homes. Because of this lack of a real neighborhood a car driving down the street was a good enough reason to run to the window in hopes of excitement . It was Bubba that saw them first and alerted the rest of us. “Cop cars”

There was no need to wonder why the police were there. In the driveway next to their house was Brother Fred’s Chevy Van. All four tires flattened. The early morning sun glittering off of the piles of glass covering the ground. The previous night the van could boast a total of eleven windows. This made for a lot of broken glass.

There wasn’t any need to go poking around for the reason for the attack on Brother Fred’s family vehicle. When we arrived at school we were met at the busses by the representatives of the news grapevine. This story was the most scandalous in our lifetime and everyone wanted to be the first to tell anyone who didn’t know.

Jason Aldon was a senior on the football team and he had been arrested last night. Or he turned himself in. Or he was still on the loose hiding from the authorities. Depending on the story teller and the time of day it was told. Jason had found his mother was having an affair with Fred. Or he caught his mother in bed with Fred. Or, as I heard in the locker room later in the day, Jason caught his mother giving the Music Pastor a blowjob in the van. There were, of course, logistical problems with this racier version. Why was Jason looking in the van for example? But I didn’t bring it up. The mental picture was just too good to dispel.
In most cases of grapevine news the real version of the story was probably the most boring one. Regardless how events really played out I never saw that asshole Chad or his father, Brother Fred again. The kids never returned to school and the family moved out of the house and out of our lives two weeks after the incident.

The only evidence that they ever lived in the house was the pile of broken glass in the yard. I would go to the house and scoop the little clear cubes into miniature mountain ranges and marvel at how beautiful destruction and retribution could look with the sun shining through it at just the right angle. Who knows, I pondered , maybe there is a God.

That Old time Religion, part 2

We picked up half a dozen more kids from the really rural parts and thirty minutes later the bus rolled to a stop in at an old farm. In the middle of a field was what looked like a circus tent. But a circus tent with something wrong with it. It was dirty and patched and not all of the stripes were lined up. The center poles that were meant to hold it up were pointing to different parts of the sky giving the structure an uneven sag. The tent had the look of some immense diseased and limping beast looking for a quiet place to die.

Chad took the lead since this was his element. He was a preachers kid and had all of the confidence of someone born to a twisted royal hierarchy. I couldn’t stand the kid but didn’t really care about making other friends so I fell in behind Chad and my little brother. A toady to the toadies. I didn’t care. My body was too sore from bracing myself on the bus ride from Hell and my stomach was doing flipflops. Both from breathing diesel exhaust and the realization that we would have to get back home the same way we go here.

The roof of the tent was strung with lights that couldn’t quite penetrate all the way to the ground level. This meant everyone in the tent walked in a type of half shadow like zombies.

“Here” Chad announced pointing to a salvaged wooden church pew. “this is the best seat. Steve save us seats. We’re going to go walk around.”

My first reaction was to tell him to go fuck himself but the pew was all the way in the back and was probably better than sitting in one of the rows of folding chairs. I stayed but I convinced myself it wasn’t because that asshole told me to. I was there because I wanted to be in that seat. I would only allow them to sit next to me because I had to keep an eye on my brother.

From my seat at the back of the tent I watched Chad make his rounds like a visiting dignitary, my brother following behind him caught up in his wake. Since Chad was a preacher’s kid these were his people. He was recognized by kids and adults alike due to his fathers involvement in various churches around the state. He was the most popular of the unpopular kids. A Prince in this twisted and creepy cast system.

I never liked this Chad kid or any of his little brothers or sisters for that matter. He was too arrogant and confident for no reason. He wasn’t particularly smart or attractive but he acted like he was and for some reason it just pissed me off. The whole family had a social awkwardness about them that surrounded them like an aura. The people under the tent didn’t seem to notice though. They were just as bad. Yes, he was definitely in his element.

I was playing my favorite personal game of “find the flaw in the people around you” when the lights went out. I was pointing out to myself the fact that “missing tooth and no bra lady” had ugly shoes when the inside of the tent went completely dark. Everyone was dead silent. I’m normally not claustrophobic or afraid of the dark but I knew I was surrounded by people I couldn’t see.

A moment longer than was necessary but before people started to panic the lights came back on and everyone was instructed to take their seats so we could begin. Chad was only a few feet away when the lights came on but I could have sworn he was further away before. My brother Bubba was across the room looking lost.

The sermon was more than what I had seen at normal church. The words pouring forth from the pulpit were made louder by a scratchy public address system. The responses from the crowd often involved standing, jumping, crying and shouts of Ayyyemen. The message was more about Hell, damnation and the end of the world. The preacher didn’t just stand and read in a dignified way I was used to either. He was running, jumping and reaching toward the sky showing us the growing sweat stains in his armpits.

When it came time for the congregation to make its offering there was also more guilt behind the push to give. Luckily I was unmoved by guilt tactics. And broke.

We were instructed to put our offerings in the little envelopes that had been provided on the seats. We could write our names on the envelopes and ask for special prayers. I dropped the fifteen cents I didn’t know I had, sealed the envelope and wrote, Scooby Doo on the envelope. Just so it looked like I gave something.

Chad made a special show of writing out his family name on the envelop then took out a thick wallet and made sure we saw him place two twenties inside before sealing it. Wooden plates came around and I saw the less obvious benefits of our seating arrangement. For one thing the plates were passed from back to front so they started with us. This only mattered because as soon as the offering plates were out of sight Chad dropped to the ground rolled under the pew, under the wall of the tent and outside to freedom. I hated this kid but a good idea was a good idea. Bubba and I followed.

Once outside we broke into the bus. Not that it was difficult since, like seatbelts ands upholstery, locks were a luxury not necessary for the revival crowd. I layed down in the backseat and tried to take a nap while Chad rifled through the bus drivers things looking for cigarettes.

Not finding any smokes Chad turned to Bubba “Think any of these other cars have cigarettes in them?”

“No” I said sitting up and sounding more like my mother than I really wanted to. “You’re not going to go looking through other peoples cars. They’re probably locked anyway.”

“I can open a car door” he said in that smarmy condescending tone of his “ Come on Bubba let’s find a hanger”

From the loud speakers inside the tent I heard “Scooby Doo, Fifteen cents”. The crowd laughed uneasily. “Every cent counts” said the person reading off the contents of the envelopes. Not only did they expect us to give them money but they told everyone how much you gave. I’m glad I didn’t put our real names.

It was an hour or so before people started pouring out of the revival tent. I didn’t sleep but, instead listened to the casting out of devils and the special prayers of healing from inside the bus. It was a full forty minutes after that when Chad and Bubba returned form their excursion. They hadn’t found a hanger or cigarettes.

“I can’t believe you smoke. It’s dumb and bad for you” I told Chad totally ignoring the burglary part of his plan.

“My dad said your dad is dumb and that he’s an alcoholic” was his reply. He took out his wallet and took out the cash and put it in his front pocket before stuffing the wallet back into his back pocket.

This pissed me off. I didn’t want to agree with his dad on anything. I couldn’t let it go though.

“You know this is all fake, right?” Nobody really likes you they’re just pretending.

This question didn’t have the sting I intended. “You think I don’t know that?” he said. “Come on Bubba” He took my brother up toward the front of the bus leaving me to my thoughts. My thoughts of course were about how much I wanted to get even with this kid. I came up with fantasies that involved pushing him through the hole in the floor of the bus when I noticed a black square on the seat next to me. Chads wallet.

I grabbed it and stuck it in my pocket in case he realized it was gone and came back to look in the last logical place it could have been. The ride back home was taking longer than the ride to the revival took for some reason. This gave me time to come up with some sinister plan involving his wallet. I could use his drivers license for... but I drew a blank. He didn’t have a drivers license. I could take his credit card for.... Again why would a ten year old have a credit card? Come to think of it why would a ten year old even need a wallet at all?

I slunk a little lower in the seat so I could take the wallet and look for clues. We were still on the back roads so it was pretty dark but I could make out a drivers license and credit cards. I couldn’t believe it. That goody goody church boy had a fake ID! Well now I have a fake ID, I thought.

It was at that point the bus turned on to a real street and the headlights from a truck behind us gave me enough light to get a clear look at the wallet. Staring up at me was from a Missouri Drivers License was the face of Albert Eugene Wilcox. Nobody I knew but his name was right there.

The other slots of the wallet had a few credit cards, a variety business cards, a few receipts.... Maybe it was the hour of exhaust I had been breathing but nothing quite clicked. I put the wallet back in my pocket.

How did he get credit cards with a fake ID? That guy had to be fifty years old nobody would believe that was Chad. Then some part of my brain tired of me going down the wrong road of logic brought it together for me in a mental montage of pictures. The lights going out in the tent, Chad on the other side of the room by the time they were on again, Chad making a show of putting forty dollars in the collection envelope, Chad removing the cash and putting the wallet in his pocket...

The little fucker stole it. And he didn’t accidently leave it in the seat next to me either. He planted it next to me. It was obvious now. This little prince of the tent revival, this preachers kid was a psychopath. I would have to keep my eye on him. I would have to watch my back. I would have to try to pick up some tips.

excerpt, Raised By White Trash; That old time religion

Although the idea of going to church as a family had been abandoned but that didn‘t mean we were done with dodging the a attempts to claim our souls. My brother Bubba was friends with the oldest of Brother Freds boys. I’m assuming it was through him that our mother found out about the good old fashioned tent revival. The revival had the added benefit of having a bus at their disposal. This meant they could pick us up for the revival and drop us off after. Meaning no effort on the part of the adults.

I’m fuzzy on the details and what subtle manipulations must have taken place but somehow I was offered a choice and I agreed to go. Maybe it was the oppressive Summer heat or something had been put in my food. Regardless of the cause I went, and, to my recurring shame and horror, I went willingly.

After dinner we were made to put on our best jeans and shirts with collars and sent outside to wait for our ride. Forty five minutes later it slowed in barreled up the road like a bad omen.

The outside of the retired school bus was rusting through dull baby blue paint that was usually meant for the exterior of houses. The interior was worse off. The idea being that, once inside, a person was pretty much trapped so why bother with luxuries.
On first glance the seats appeared to come in three decorative patterns. The first I would call “Faith in Tape”. Black electrical tape, Silver duct tape and a wide clear tape that picked up hair and fuzz were randomly applied to hold together what remained of blue vinyl seat covers.

The second design would be called “Early Junkyard” all pretense at saving these seats was gone and all that remained were rusted springs and tufts of a sickly yellow stuffing that looked alarmingly like the remains of road-killed bunnies or possums.

I labeled the third style “Garage Sale Special” the blue vinyl was in tact with only a few cracks from age and maybe a little general fading. These seats were obviously the most superior and if I wanted one for myself I would have to act fast.

I pushed past Bubba and the preachers boy, Chad, and quickly made my way to one of the last good seats. In my haste I failed to see the chain stretched across the opening at seat level. I tripped and fell forward stopping myself on the seat cushion and only barely keeping myself from falling through the jagged hole in the floor and onto the white limestone gravel that made up our road.

“Don’t sit there, Can’t you see the chain?” This command came from the general direction of the drivers seat.

I found a mostly taped seat and flopped down in it and waited for my heart to settle down. My fear was just turning about to turn the corner to becoming anger and I was halfway through mentally recounting why these people should be killed for risking my life when the bus went from a city maintained road to a county maintained road. In rural Missouri “County Maintained” was the politically correct term for “not maintained”.

It was now obvious that the same level of care shown for the interior of the bus had been extended to shock absorber maintenance. Each bump and pothole sent us flying. The impact of landing would snap our heads forward sending our front teeth careening toward a steel bar set at the perfect level for crushing even the hardest teeth down to the gumline.

These people were the real thing. They were willing to snatch up unknown children and place their lives in danger. This was real faith. They had Faith that nobody would fall through the floor, they had Faith nobody would need a full set of dentures by the end of the night, They had Faith the bus would stop when it was supposed to, go when it was supposed to and not not burst into flames.

All of this faith must have been contagious. Because for the first time ever I prayed. I didn’t just pretend like I usually do this timeI sincerely prayed. If not for my eternal soul at least for my spine, my teeth and my general mobility.