1. Melva. She ran that poor bus engine up to redline at every shift of the manual transmission. When the bus would inevitably break down, she would light a cigarette as we all waited for the replacement bus to rescue us. Famous for hollering, “Pipe down” in an effort to quiet a busload of young Iowans.
2. Breakfast man on route 777. Each day he ate a cheese Danish, package of peanut M&Ms, a 20 oz. Mountain Dew and a pint of half-and-half. He talked himself through each stoplight every day by saying, “Allllllllllright.”
3. Harlan (Harley). Imagine Principal Edward Rooney from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” with a majestic mane of red hair. With ever-present Ray-Bans and chewing gum. Played in a local rock cover band. Consoled me once when I fell carsick on the ride home as a child by saying, simply, “So, uh, you OK?” SUBSTITUTE DRIVER ONLY.
4. Kenny. Another substitute driver. The single most memorable moment involved his asking of the question, “So, uh, are you into irony?” (?)
5. Durable West Indian Gent on route 777. It was about 95 degrees, and this hearty soul didn’t turn on the air conditioner. He had a white handkerchief that he used to wipe the sweat from his brow while commenting on the heat with a positively delightful West Indian lilt.
6. Chap with the mustache of Tom Selleck proportions. He insisted upon shifting the automatic transmission everyday for months and months. Until, of course, that very activity stranded the bus on one of the busiest streets in Minneapolis.