A bus driver’s commencement address

May is unofficially known as the “Commencement Address Month,” and right now, all over the planet, people with very important titles are sweating like pigs because they’ve been asked to give commencement addresses when they’d much rather volunteer to get a bad case of Swine Flu, or at least laryngitis.

Fortunately, I am just a school bus driver. School bus drivers never have to give commencement addresses. But if we did, it would probably go something like this:

Well kids, you finally made it. Twelve years ago you got on the bus and now it’s your turn to get off. But I know what you’re thinking. I can see it in your faces. You’re thinking, “Couldn’t the school afford a ‘real’ speaker? What does this bozo know about life and living?”

Not much, I suppose, but I do know this: If you really want to know about life, living, survival of the fittest, good and evil, for richer or poorer because fly rods cost an arm and a leg whether you’re in sickness or in health, then you need to head down to your local Bait Shop. Notice that I said YOU need to go. Every time I go, I just stand there looking at the plastic worms thinking, “Boy, those fish must be down-right ignoramuses to believe a blue plastic worm would be tasty.”

But, I’m not a fish, and neither are you – anymore. You’re soon-to-be graduates, with that Freshman year long behind you. And as you look back at who you were, and you look forward to who you want to be, don’t forget to look sideways because there’s always an 18-wheeler barreling down the road, and he ain’t going to stop, even if you have the green light.

Which reminds me of a famous song sung by that celebrated amphibious singer and banjo player, Kermit the Frog, who sang, “It’s Not Easy Being Green.” If you know the words, sing along with me, “It’s not easy being green. Being the color of...” Why aren’t you guys singing? Oh well, it was worth a try.

It may sound funny, but life is all about being “green.” It’s all about starting at the bottom, learning the ropes, getting or not getting that big promotion, schmoozing with the “big dogs,” being reassigned, wondering why they sent you to North Dakota instead of The Big Apple, holding your head up high anyways, then having your company go bankrupt because the CEO embezzled billions and gambled it all away at the race track. Leaving you where? Stuck in the frozen north without a job or a parka, not knowing what tomorrow will bring, but being thankful you have your education because nobody can take that away from you. Nobody.

You might not think this, but life doesn’t always work out like you planned – even for us school bus drivers. Yes, I know we always look cheerful and happy, ready to do what God put us on this planet to do, but sometimes we have doubts. Yes, I said doubts.

There are many times during the middle of an afternoon route I want to just stop the bus, get out, thumb a ride to Alaska, and live in the mountains like a hermit, but with satellite TV. But do I quit? No. Do I give up? Never. Do I leave those poor children stuck at school, crying for their mommies because they want to go home? Are you kidding? Those teachers would hunt me down, drag me back, and force me into that bus under threat of bodily harm.

But what has all this to do with you? Everything. You’re heading out into a world where dangers lurk behind every corner and success is not measured by grades on a report card. You’ve got to find your own way, create a new path, live up to your standards, be who you were meant to be – and never give up.

And if you become a doctor and one day find me lying in front of you, nearly at death’s door, please don’t pull the plug just because I wrote you up for throwing Mary Jane’s homework assignment out the bus window. I was just doing my job. And now it’s time for you to go out and do yours.

Good luck graduates. You’ve reached the light at the end of the tunnel. Enjoy the sunshine.


Anonymous said...

You said it all and very nicely.

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