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School Bus Days

I recall my first year as a high school student at Madoc, Ontario in 1956.

Actually, nothing much about school comes to mind, but I remember bus trips to and from the farm - ten miles as the crow flies, and perhaps fifteen as the bus meandered along side roads picking up and disgorging students. I do not recall how I came to occupy the front seat of the bus, but I remember that it fell to me to operate the door for students getting on and off.

I assume the driver appreciated this. At least, he did not put me in my place. 'Helping out' was de rigueur in rural circumstances in those days, when so much had to be accomplished manually.

Unfortunately, the other help I soon enough began offering my fellow passengers, to assist them through doors that had been opened for me, was not the help they had in mind. The further my excellent project evolved the more resistance I encountered.  The more resistance, the more resolute I became.

Eventually my acquaintances started defending themselves.  Invitations were rarely extended a second time.  Waves transformed into gesticulations.

I continue to be startled by this.  It has always seemed self-evident that earnest, excited ... conversations were necessary if we were to extricate ourselves from the erosions the world's clever and beautiful people had in store for us.

When I was young I trusted that this was what conversations were, at least occasionally, about.

I have since learned that conversations are almost always contests.  The goal is to emerge with one's original understandings intact, neither added to nor subtracted from. If one prevailed along the way, if one happened to score a 'gotcha', not just survival but victory could be declared!