There Is No Excuse

She got off lucky. She didn’t kill anyone. I’m referring to the 32-year-old woman in Cleveland who continually drove onto the sidewalk, past the flashing red lights of a school bus loading children each morning in her neighborhood.

The woman did this several days in a row as anxious parents, students and bus drivers attempted to learn her identity. Then her driving violation was caught on camera. That’s all the cops needed and the next time she tried it, she drove right into the waiting arms of her local police department. Busted!

She claims she did not have time to wait for the school bus to load because that would make her late for work. I guess it never occurred to her to leave earlier or to take another route to work. I don’t know what she does for a living but I wouldn’t want to work next to someone who apparently has no regard for others.

She appeared to wear a smirk on her face when the judge sentenced her to stand for one hour at a Cleveland intersection while she held a sign that stated “Only An Idiot Would Drive on the Sidewalk to Avoid a School Bus.” She also was fined $250 and had her driver’s license suspended for 30 days.

Reporters said the guilty woman performed her punishment while smoking a cigarette and wearing headphones. Something tells me we will read about her in the news reports again sometime.

When I was a high school student attending Central Catholic, it was not until I was a sophomore that we were given access to the public school buses. I rode the bus home many afternoons. One particularly bad winter day, a snowstorm hit early in the afternoon. The buses were called to get students in all the schools home as quickly and safely as possible as this big storm promised to put down some significant snow.

At Central, we waited and waited for the bus to come. About 10 of us were stuck in the school long after others had gone home. It was just us and the janitor waiting there as we watched the snow transform 14th Street into a winter wonderland. We were assured that our bus would come and we were told to stay put until then. Most of us figured we were destined to spend the night in the school, eating leftovers in the cafeteria.

Then at almost 6 p.m., the bus pulled up outside our school. We couldn’t believe it. Our driver looked stressed, but he took his time as he slowly drove us all home. Until that day, we never paid much attention to our bus driver, but this time we talked with him as he drove. He never let on if he was nervous and our talking was more to ease all of our fears about the hazards on the road.

We all got home that night, safe and thrilled to learn school was canceled for the next day. With all the concerns a school bus driver has each day, he or she should not have to worry about someone running late for work.

Heather Ziegler can he reached via e-mail at