The bus pulls to a halt past the usual bus stop. As riders are stepping off, the bus driver unbuckles his seatbelt and follows them out. Those of us left watch him walk back up the road we came down and into a Walgreens on the corner. We all desperately hope he's going in to pick up a soda, gum, or even some condoms and not the prescription he forgot to take this morning. The waiting begins.
For the first few minutes everyone is quiet and still as if he might suddenly reappear and chastise us for being disorderly children. Then a murmur starts in the back, moving forward like ripples in a pond. We all slowly go back to what we were doing before our driver seemingly abandoned ship.
As our moods elevate, someone in the back offers to take the wheel and the man next to me demands to see his driver's license. Everyone laughs. A lady near the middle wonders out loud if anyone could even operate the bus with all its buttons & pedals. Our self-elected wheelman hollers at me, "Hey blonde girl, you're the closest. Can you show me how to operate it?"
"Dude, I wasn't paying attention. I had no idea there would be a quiz later," I quip. Laughter ripples through the bus again.
"No worries," wheelman says and starts walking towards the front of the bus. "I'll figure it out."
Just then the bus driver steps back onto the bus. "No need, son. I didn't go home. I just went for a snack."
"Did you bring enough for everyone?" someone asks.
"Sure," the driver replies. "But you're all going to have to take really tiny bites."
There's another wave of laughter as the bus rumbles back into action. I look up and meet the driver's eyes in his overhead mirror. We exchange smiles and are homeward bound again.