Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been, well, about 38 years since I last attended confession - one of my best friends in fourth and fifth grade was Catholic. And I just loved all the candles, and the Mass - the Latin was so pretty, this was back when Mass was just in Latin, not in English...

Oh... wait, what? Oh, my confession. Well, okay, this it.

Driver’s education was, for me, an exercise in pure boredom. I had been driving for several years already, and while a few of the legalities were new to me (why is passing on the right illegal when sometimes it's the only way to get around an idiot driver?), most of it was fairly old hat.

Oh, no, that's not my sin.

Somehow the one rule that amazed, stunned and remained with me was FLASHING RED LIGHTS ON A SCHOOL BUS. I never rode a school bus actually to school, just for field trips. And growing up, I never once remember seeing a bus have the whole flashing red lights thing going on.

But where I live now, there is only one two-lane highway connecting Sierra Vista with Palominas, Hereford and Bisbee. So I see school buses with red flashing lights ALL THE TIME.

And traffic obediently slows down, stops, and patiently waits until the flashing red lights are turned off and the school begins to drive again.

But today. Oh, today, Father, I have sinned.

I'm in Hawaii, which exists on an entirely difference universe of aloha shirts for business wear, muumuus for church wear, leis for any reason at all, and people always riding in the back of pickup trucks.

And generally you can spot the Mainland drivers anywhere - they are the ones flying through, rapidly changing lanes, hitting all the open spots and then just as rapidly slamming on their brakes when everything on the highways comes to an abrupt halt.

Otherwise, most local drivers are doing the speed limit; they know they'll get where they are going, so why rush to get there early?
Yes, Father, I'm getting to that.
But as I pull out of the local shopping area (everything to sustain life; a grocery store, a pharmacy, ice cream, Starbucks, dry cleaning and Blockbuster) onto the main thoroughfare, there is a bus WITH RED FLASHING LIGHTS ON.

Without even any conscience thought, I hit my brakes and come to a complete stop.

Now, granted, this thoroughfare is 'divided', but this school bus is definitely on MY side, it has SCHOOL CHILDREN getting off of it, and THE RED FLASHING LIGHTS ARE ON.

But I am the only car stopping. Everyone else is just cruising by, most about forty miles over the speed limit.

And Father, I let myself be swayed by the dark side of the force, and I DROVE BY THE BUS WITH THE RED FLASHING LIGHTS ON.

What should my penance be? Serve as a school crossing guard for the rest of my life? Go into epileptic spasms every time I see a red flashing light?

Wait a minute, you mean I have to TO DRIVE A SCHOOL BUS FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE?!?

Forget it, Father. Just send me straight to hell. That'll be easier.