The book bag was light blue with a huge embroidered rainbow on the front of it. The rainbow, once bright with brilliant colors, had seen better days. After months of being dragged on the ground, it was dirty and torn.
I was swinging it back and forth. It was especially light today because Mr. McDonald, my second grade teacher, only gave us one page of homework last night. The contents consisted of my math workbook, my pencil, and the latest Bobbsey Twins book, “The Bobbsey Twins and the Play House Secret.”
I swung my book bag and skipped down the sidewalk to the bus stop. Today was Thursday. Only one more day until my best friend Dawn’s sleep over birthday party. I couldn’t wait! It would be my first party with a piñata. She said we were going to play pin the tail on the donkey, musical chairs and tell scary stories. Just thinking of it made me skip faster and swing my bag higher.
She took my sister’s hand and made it wave back at me.
I turned my attention back to the other 9 kids waiting for the bus. Two of my friends were talking to Dawn about the party.
I rushed over to them and joined the conversation. Dawn had decided the menu – pizza for dinner, cake and ice cream for dessert, popcorn for scary stories and pancakes for breakfast. We were all talking at once when we heard the high pitched brakes of the bus.
We all turned around as the bus stopped and the door opened.
Bob, the new bus driver, had on blue pants and a blue shirt. His gray hair always looked messy, as if he’d just woke up in the morning.
He pulled his black eye glasses down to the end of his nose, looked at us over the top and yelled, “Two lines! When I stop this bus, I want two lines, one boys’ line and one girls’ line. Now line up!” The girls looked at each other and rolled their eyes.
“OK – Boys on first!” The boys snickered and John, the boy in the back of the line, turned towards us and stuck out his tongue.
This had been going on for almost 2 weeks now. Ever since Bob became our new bus driver. The boys ALWAYS went on the bus first. It just wasn’t fair.
By the time I climbed up the stairs and onto the bus, I was fuming. I’m pretty sure there was actual smoke coming out of my ears.
I reached the top and stopped right next to Bob’s seat. I planted my hands on my hips and tried to give him an evil eye. “It’s not fair that you always let the boys on first. We should take turns.”
Bob looked at me over his glasses, then tilted his head back and pushed his glasses up. He stared at me some more. He leaned towards me and said, “I’ll think about it! Now go find a seat!”
UGH! Well that’s just it – the boys get all the good seats; the ones in the back that bounce up and down every time the bus goes over a bump.
The school day flew by, and the next thing I knew, we were lining up for the buses. My bus, Bus #10, was called over the loud speaker, we waved goodbye to Mr. McDonald and headed outside.
It was easy to find our bus. It was the one with 2 lines outside the door; one boys’ line and one girls’ line.
Bob opened the door and yelled out, “OK – Boys first!”
What?! This is really not fair. He must hate girls! I stomped my feet all the way to Bob’s seat and did the whole hands on hips thing again. “You told me you would think about it!”
The corners of his mouth turned up, and he said, “I did think about it, and I decided the boys go on first! Now go to your seat!”
That night at dinner, I told my mom and dad what happened on the bus. They told me it was good that I stood up for myself and the girls.
“But it didn’t work! He hates us, and he is never going to let us on first.”
My dad said, “Well, you just need to keep trying. Don’t give up. You should never give up on something that you believe is right.”
The next morning, I got to the bus stop and tried to convince the boys to let us on first even if Bob says boys first. The boys nearly fell over laughing at such a stupid suggestion. So it went Bob’s way again. Boys are first. I marched up the bus steps. This time, I crossed my arms and squished my eyebrows as close together as I could. This was my mad face. I made my demand, “If you don’t let the girls on first after school, I’m boycotting this bus!” And I stomped back to my seat.
School dragged on, as it usually does on Fridays, but finally the end of the day came and we were lined up for the bus.
“Bus 10.” We went outside and formed our two lines. The moment of truth. The bus door opened, Bob stared straight ahead and yelled, “OK, boys first!”
Steam was rushing out of my ears, and my face was fire engine red with fury!
The boys went on first, and when it was my turn to get on, I stopped at the bottom of the steps, blocked the door and said, “I am boycotting this bus.”
Bob said, “Get on the bus. You’re holding up the line.”
“No. I am not getting on the bus until you let the girls go on first.”
This went back and forth for several minutes. Bob finally radioed for the principal to come outside. I didn’t budge. I would not get on the bus, and they could not make me – which is exactly what I yelled as I turned away and started walking home. The principal was concerned and upset. “You can’t walk home! You have to cross the busy highway!”
Bob shut the door and pulled away.
“Well,” I replied, “Then Bob should have let the girls go on first!” And I marched on.
Ten minutes later, I was sitting in the back of my mom’s car. She was yelling at me. “How could you walk home? You can’t cross the highway! It’s too dangerous! You’ll get hurt! What were you thinking?!”
Instead of driving me home, she drove me back to school. We went to the principal’s office and took our seats. We went over the events of the last two days.
The principal spoke. “You know it’s too dangerous to walk home, so you have to take the bus.”
At this point, I am close to tears and having trouble continuing to be brave. “It’s not fair! My dad told me that I should stand up for stuff I believe in! And I believe Bob isn’t fair!”
Eventually, the principal and I came to an agreement. Bob would do away with the two separate lines, and I would ride the bus home for the rest of the school year.
Girls’ rights were restored. I stood up for what I believed in. I believed the girls weren’t being treated fairly, and I fought for them. As my dad said, “Fight for what you believe in, and never give up.”
Kind of like the time when I represented a couple in the purchase of a vacation home. “Tom and Mary” found a home they liked in the perfect location. They knew it was older and needed work, but they were okay with that. In fact, they preferred that. And you couldn’t beat the location. It was exactly where they wanted to be.
They wrote the contract and put the deposit down. It was a complete rehab, so they went to work and collected bids from contractors to complete the renovations.
Two weeks into the contract, their insurance company decided to inspect the house before issuing a policy. After the inspection, they were denied insurance. The issue was the electric. It was old, and the wiring was old and fraying, a fire hazard
This bad wiring was all over the house, garage and outside area. The house was uninsurable – we checked with several insurance companies.
Tom and Mary were upset. They decided it was too risky to buy a house without insurance. They knew they were going to lose their deposit money. They figured it was better to lose a little money than to lose a lot, and they were okay with that.
I was not.
I believed they should get their deposit back. They shouldn’t be forced to buy a house that was uninsurable. The seller’s agent thought differently. He was not going to allow the buyer to get his deposit back. We went back and forth on the issue and back and forth.
It is not fair that the seller keep the deposit money if the buyers can’t get insurance. If they bought the house and something bad happened, they would lose everything.
I stood up for my buyers. I stood up for what I believed in. I never gave up.
Tom and Mary—they gave up. They gave up on the notion of getting their deposit back. I didn’t. I kept at it, and never gave up.
Two weeks ago, I received a call from the title company that was holding the deposit check. They still had the check. They wanted my buyers’ address so they could mail it to them. The title company had been holding the check for 18 months because of the dispute!
My buyers got their money back. ☺
As my dad said – “Fight for what you believe in, and never give up.”