Monday, September 8, 2008

Too much, the magic bus

Bethy was upset at school two days ago. She cried when the other kids got to go with Mrs Potts to the buses and she had to stay behind in another teacher's classroom. There wasn't bus service the first week of school, so she was content to be dropped off and picked up each day by us. No longer.

While it was too late to set it up for her to ride in yesterday morning, I wrote a note and pinned it to her pinafore that she could ride Bus Number 2 starting that afternoon, also verbally confirming it with her teacher.

Then I called Hassan, her bus driver.

I should take a step back here and explain that everybody has a mobile (cell) phone here. Everybody. Not a bad plan in the desert, actually.

Before the bus routes started operating, Hassan gave me a call (also known as a ring, a tinkle, but not a buzz) to make sure she was going to be riding the bus, which she wasn't, since we're not actually in our new house yet.

He told me to stand outside of our house at 1500. (Times here are 0000-2400 including on the car and microwave clocks. It does save confusion.) Now, Bethy's class gets out at 1330, 90 minutes earlier. With traffic being the way it is, and the driver negotiating all the neighborhoods, I can see why it takes so long, but I hoped she would go potty before getting on the bus.

At 1335 I got a call from Mrs Potts (by the way, if that name sounds familiar, it's Angela Lansbury's teapot character from Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Thought I'd just throw that in there.) They were refusing to let Bethy on the bus, was I more than 10 minutes away or should she send Bethy home with somebody I didn't even know's nanny?

As I was more than 10 minutes away (was she kidding? With the traffic no one is ten minutes away from anything unless they're on the road en route, and even then it's a tricky proposition), and I didn't know the aforementioned nanny or her employer, I asked Mrs Potts to try again, repeating clearly and distinctly "Bus TWO, Hassan is the driver."

Chipper call a few minutes later "Well, that's done it, they took her, she's gone."

Not the most reassuring words I've ever heard.

Thomas and I headed out to the villa (christened Gecko House by the kids,) for our rendezvous. I might have whimpered slightly to Mike via mobile on the way.

At Gecko House we unpacked some more, watching the clock, mobile phone firmly in pocket. At 1445 we went out to scrub the car seats, as simply waiting in the heat would have been interminable. Thomas took out the new broom and dustpan-on-a-stick combination and was happy as a little clam sweeping the sand on the walkway. I picked up the scattering of windblown debris that seems ever present away from the city, scrubbed seats, and listened for bus engine sounds. At precisely 1500 here came the little blue #2 bus up the main entrance road...and past our street.

There it went. Ah well, surely they were just dropping off some other child first.

Nope. Here it came and went again, past our road and back out past the gatehouse, despite my frantic waving.

I remained calm. An Academy Award-worthy performance it was, too, I must say. I didn't fall to the ground or anything.

My small shiny red savior, the mobile, chirped in my pocket after a few minutes. Hassan the bus driver. "Madam, this is Hassan, World Gems bus driver Madam, Madam where are you, please Madam?"

After all that they had the wrong address for us. But she made it home just fine (no problem, no problem, and can I throw in an inconceivable as well?) There was a second man on the bus who helped Bethy off, carefully walking her to me. Thomas gave her big hugs, the rotten camera refused to work in the heat despite prepping and muttered threats, and we went in for rainbow marshmallows and digestive biscuits. That's just how it is at the Gecko House.


Jeni said...

Who knew riding the bus was so exciting?!?! Grace is also in love with riding the bus! It is no longer ok for me to pick her up at school instead I pick her up at the bus stop!

Jeni (Josh's wife)

Natalie said...

Hey Jeni! Are you and the family still in Reykjavik? Riding the bus is WAY cooler than Mom coming to pick you up definitely.

Love to you and Josh and the darlings. :) Awesome to hear from you!