My life hasn’t been a magic bus ride
April E. Clark
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Since I’ve been back in Glenwood, I’ve consistently heard a catchphrase that’s as painful as it sounds.
At least to the emotions, anyway.
I first recall hearing it from my friend Rob Tramazzo. He casually uttered, “Watch out for that guy, he’ll throw you under the bus,” when consoling me on being stood up one time.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked, as clueless as a teenager on her first date.
“Exactly how it sounds,” he replied.
Well, Tramazzo, that sounds as fun as being tossed from an airplane without a parachute.
Or sitting through any of the “Leprechaun” movies.
I’m a flatlander who had never heard of the term “being thrown under the bus” until recently. Where I’m from, there’s a lot of talk about “Hoosier Hospitality.” Treat others as you would like to be treated. Kill ’em with kindness. Have a Coke and a smile. I was also taught to never hypothetically “burn a bridge,” advice I’ve made serious efforts to follow but has been necessary when mean people are involved.
I was always warned I’d pee my pants if I played with fire, so I stayed clear of it.
The more I hear about throwing people under the bus, the more curious I’ve become on what it entails. According to the Urban Dictionary, which offers up a plethora of slang definitions, throwing someone under the bus is a pretty simple concept. It means, “to sacrifice some other person, usually one who is undeserving or at least vulnerable, to make personal gain.”
Sounds like reality TV.
I think my first experience with bus tires was in the fourth grade. I wrote a love note to David McIntosh, passed it to him in class, the teacher intercepted it then proceeded to write it on the chalkboard for every class that day to read. Technically the teacher was trying to teach me a lesson about paying attention in class, as opposed to passing love notes. So I might have been deserving. But I always felt he was trying to do much more than lesson teaching.
Maybe he was trying to toughen me up a bit. Or look like a really tough teacher to all those impressionable 9-year-olds. I’ll probably never know his motive.
But even as an adult, I can still see the treadmarks.
Sure, I’ve seen the underside of the bus many times since, especially in personal relationships. But I’m also guilty of throwing.
In high school, I dated a really sweet guy who was an all-star athlete and an A student. He lettered in tennis, basketball and baseball, later attending the Naval Academy on a tennis scholarship. Without much thought for the future or his feelings, I threw him under the bus to date a boy who, in my 16-year-old opinion, was more fun.
It’s as painful as it sounds. So much for Hoosier Hospitality.
He showed me up by beating me out of a student council president position our senior year, graduating from West Point and going on to be an optometrist who delivers spectacles to people in need in Iraq.
Last time I checked, that doesn’t sound anything like my resume.
Instant karma really does knock you right on the head.
I wish I could say I learned my lesson. But a few years ago I made a similar mistake I’ll never stop regretting. He was definitely undeserving. And I was as selfish as a 16-year-old looking for fun.
And for the record, it’s as painful as it sounds.
Even on the other side of the treadmarks.
April E. Clark is steering clear of buses. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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