Kindergarten Bus

kindergarten

photo – Howard County Library System 

Every morning, I turn on CBS news to check the weather and see what horrors have ensued while I was asleep. The fun part of the morning is John Elliott, the perky meteorologist who lets us know it’s “hug a squirrel day” or “eat peanut butter day”: he must have a special book he looks these things up in. Then there’s Alex Denis with the “Now Trending” segment. She shows us cute youtube videos of animals, children and adults doing the darnedest things and simple acts of kindness.

In the spirit of “Now Trending,” I want to share with you my morning news which I feel is headline-worthy (at least to fellow commuters). It happened on the NJ Transit bus when the driver said, “If you have an empty seat next to you, please raise your hand.” That’s something a teacher would say to her kindergarten class. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The bus driver was quite friendly and I know she didn’t mean to sound condescending. A lady across from me on the other side of the bus sat alone with her tote bag but didn’t raise her hand. Deliberate non-cooperation. For shame. Hey, we’re all in this together, New Jersey commuters. “Jersey Strong,” as Governor Christie says. After all, he’s always looking out for his fellow humans. Maybe she’s a germaphobe, but if that were the case, she wouldn’t be riding the bus at all—it’s filthy!

Back to our bus driver. The drivers should (hate that word—so laden with negativity and dogmatism, but nevertheless) be keeping track of how many passengers have boarded, so the showing of hands would not be needed. In my over 7 years riding the bus, no driver has ever asked us to raise our hands. But there’s a first time for everything, right?

After she took note of the raised hands and more passengers boarded, she said, “Thank you.”

You see, that makes all the difference. Thank you. She asked us to do a thing, and some did, some didn’t, and she thanked us. A little civility goes a long way. That makes it trend-worthy.

As for the lady who didn’t raise her hand, she reluctantly let a stranger sit next to her. As she moved her tote bag from the seat and placed it onto her lap, her face scrunched like a balloon losing air. Did she really think she could hog two seats during rush hour? Just plain rude.

Now, what’s trending with you?

Fear: It’s What’s for Breakfast

CBS news team

“What’s the point of truth or beauty or knowledge
when anthrax bombs are popping all around you?”
― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

The CBS morning news smacks me awake with cold FEAR, aside from weather with my favorite meteorologist John Elliott, traffic updates with Jill Nicolini and Alex Denis’s delightful-bordering-on-daft “Now Trending” segment. Before I have a chance to grab my morning Joe, I swallow FEAR in the guise of ISIS, Ebola, Enterovirus, a fire in Paterson, carjacking / police shootout in front of Sleepy’s in Paramus, baby black bear found dead in Central Park, a stabbing in Jamaica, Queens, on and on. Fear is what’s for breakfast or what Charlie Rose calls, “your world in 90 seconds.”

Of course, I can shut off the Fear Channel whenever I choose. It’s on when I drive my husband to the bus stop in my pajamas, then I do some stretches and soak in more . . . FEAR. After that I tune into Soundscapes, the New Age music station, and go upstairs to shower. The cats prefer Soundscapes, at least that’s what an animal behaviorist told me. She said they are most soothed by New Age music. Back to Fear.

This morning Charlie Rose asked chief medical correspondent Dr. John LaPook, “What is the worst case scenario?” Norah O’Donnell nods, almost salivating.

LaPook makes it plain that there is little to no chance of an Ebola outbreak on our shores. One look at Charlie’s furrowed brow and we can tell LaPook’s response does not satisfy him. Does he want Ebola in America?

Todd Kincannon’s answer to Ebola is the most straightforward: Kill (“humanely”) everyone who has contracted the disease.

Governor Rick Perry, whom people seem to take more seriously since he donned glasses, has assured Texans he has set up a “task force” to deal with Ebola, now that it has hit home, literally.

In between the sound bites of Fear, commercials are yelling at me: call 1-800-MATTRESS, call  1-800-STEEMER, with the accompanying jingle, “Call 1 800 Steemer, Stanley Steamer gets your home cleaner.” They want me to give my car to a kid, and they sing,“1 877 Kars for Kids, 1 877 Kars for Kids, 1 877 Kars for Kids, Donate your car (kar?) today.” It’s a catchy tune, but I need my car (kar?)!

At last, I switch to the Soundscapes channel which once offered bucolic visuals along with tranquil music with titles like “Sensual Afterludes” and “Zen Dreaming.” Now there’s a black screen with ads popping up offering deals on catheters, telling me who to call if my house is facing foreclosure and who to call if the IRS or collection agency is after me. Help!

I don’t know where to turn. I want to get the weather, traffic report, a sweet, harmless tidbit from Alex Denis, and a smidgen of real news that isn’t fear-based. Of course. there’s WBAI which I can listen to in the car, but it’s often an endless fundraising-a-thon. Perhaps silence is best. Looking out the window upon waking, my kitties in tow, I can determine the weather based on the coolness of their eraser noses, or check my iPhone. But I’ll miss John Elliott, who not only provides weather with a smile, but tells me it’s National Bring Your Ferret to Work Day. He must have a book that he refers to because every day is a holiday with him. And Jill Nicolini announced she’s pregnant this morning. Congratulations, Jill! And it’s a boy!

Okay, now I’m being daft. All I want in the morning is coffee, a dose of visual and audio pablum, and to trundle off to the bus stop, catch the 163 and not be terrorized before reaching Port Authority. Is that too much to ask?