I was a shy kid. I usually sat with my older brother on the bus, and I tended to mostly have friends who were older than me because they were actually my brother’s friends. Well, when I entered fifth grade and moved up to the middle school I got a new bus driver who was incredibly mean and absolutely set on segregating the bus by age. He yelled at me a few times for sitting with my brother. At some point I just gave up and sat in the front, sitting alone and reading books. I was pretty introverted (still am) so I didn’t like talking to kids my own age.
At some point during the year, I guess my bus driver noticed that I was reading books pretty often. He started to make sarcastic remarks about how I must be really intelligent to be reading all the time. He even came up with a super creative nickname for me: “book boy.” Every time I would get on the bus he’d say “Hey book boy, whatcha reading today?” or “Why don’t you have any friends? You need to put down Harry Potter.” Hah, not a chance. The final straw came on the bus ride home one day when he actually said over the intercom “Will someone come sit with book boy? He needs to make some friends.” I was 10 years old.
I went home in tears that day and told my mom about how awful my bus driver was. She told me not to feel bad that I’m a smart kid and he’s just being dumb. She said that when I grow up, I’ll surely be more successful than him, and not to take anything he said to heart because he’s just unhappy with how his own life turned out. Maybe he wished he read books when he was my age.
I was feeling pretty good about myself after that, and I read books with continued vigor. A few days later when he was dropping me off, my bus driver finally asked me, “So book boy, why are you always reading so much?” And without missing a beat, I replied, “So I don’t grow up to be like you.” I hopped off the bus without even turning to see the wreckage.