All For The Want Of A Handkerchief

With winter rapidly approaching – at least in the Northern Hemisphere – I was reminded of a certain time some years back when driving a school bus could be an even more precarious occupation than usual. Thirty-odd noses were capable of emitting vast numbers of microbes, and all aimed at the poor driver upfront.

One such occasion saw me out of action for the best part of a week; too sick to even post on Sparrow Chat. And it was all down, of course, to one of the Roberts boys.


Regular readers of Sparrow Chat may have been perplexed of late by the lack of posts. It’s the winter holiday season in America, and that means high season for germs. When Sparrow Chat’s files succumbed recently to a digitized virus, so did its administrator – though, to the more conventional form of the microbe.

One major drawback to School Bus 13 is that it’s packed with little germbags. At this time of year, most of the kids are sniffing. Moms today seem disinclined to provide their offspring with any means of wiping noses, so the early morning bus stop reveals a vista of small urchins, hands a’pocket, and snotty green growths hanging precariously from urchin nostrils.

The family Roberts is no exception. With the possible exception of Cordell Roberts, the older boys are not terribly interested in Oakley Canton or any other female student riding the bus, but they still make an effort with their appearance, presumably hoping a real dazzler may one day board and provide them with another interest in life besides beating each other up. Consequently, though sleeve cuffs bear witness to the method of cleansing, older noses are relatively snot free.

The younger Roberts’ boys, Azariah and Izaiah, are not so particular. Azariah is prone to temper tantrums and anger management problems, both of which can prove particularly infecting of the rest of us whenever he has a cold virus – a permanent affliction, it seems, at this time of year.

Only a couple of weeks back, Cordell Roberts stole a piece of candy from Azariah, whereupon, unable to control his rage at such brotherly intrusion, the first-grader leapt from his seat and rushed up the aisle, red-faced, spouting tears and green pus from every facial orifice – or, so it seemed.

Finally arriving alongside the driver’s chair, and finding himself with nowhere else to go, he bent low at the knees before launching himself upright and emitting a roar of fury that would have done credit to an African lion who’d just discovered a hyena had run off with his antelope sandwiches. The effect of this vocal contortion was to spray enormous quantities of Azariah’s bodily excretions all over the bus dashboard, steering wheel, and control knobs.

All of which resulted in Azariah being ‘written up’ for leaving his seat, Cordell – for pinching candy, the driver coughing and sneezing for the next fortnight, and, as a consequence, a serious lack of posts on Sparrow Chat.