Second-graders and Truck Drivers

Clearly, I missed the memo.

Apparently there is a special bond that formed over the summer.  It wasn’t like this on the last field trip I chaperoned…towards the end of first grade for my youngest kiddo, I don’t know, in May or so.  Surely if the signs were there last time, I would have seen them.

Were there letters back and forth?  Is there something in the second-grade curriculum about this?  Why wasn’t I informed?  Is there a secret informational conduit between second-graders and truck drivers?  (I’m picturing something like Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, here…)

Maybe it’s just the grapevine – one kid on one bus happened to know the universal sign for “Hey, Truck Driver!  Honk your horn!” was a fist in the air, pulling down on an imaginary cord.  Another kid saw him do it, and started doing it too…and soon, entire busloads of kids were completely transfixed on the traffic around them.

It’s as if they were WILLING the trucks in the lanes behind them to go a little faster . Using their incredible mind powers to move cars that dared to be between the school bus and the truck.  They squinted.  There were lookouts.  “There’s one 3 cars behind us!”  And then the mental maneuvering began.  Some kids were quiet about it, an intense look of concentration on their faces, their hands in their laps.   Others were unconsciously moving their hands and leaning their bodies towards the lanes into which they were hoping the offending cars would move.  Still others were slightly less subtle, bouncing up and down and begging the cars, “MOVE!!!!  MOVE!!!!”

As each car moved out of the way, there were bursts of little happy sounds, but they quickly changed back into the concentrated hush that preceded them.  There were still more cars to move.  And when that was done?  Oh, there was still the work of the master puppeteering of the truck.  Half the kids are already making the universal sign, practically breaking a sweat as their little fists pumped up and down in the air furiously.  I’d say these efforts were a bit premature, as I don’t think the truck driver saw them, but it was hard to fault their enthusiasm.

And then?  Then…there…was…EYE CONTACT.  This was the job and sober responsibility of the kids sitting in the very back of the bus.  Waving their arms wildly, and some shouting, “Hey!  Hey!  Truck Driver!!!!” a connection was made.  The truck driver noticed the school bus.  He gave a small smile, nodded his head, as if he now understood his mission and its importance.  He began checking his rear-view mirrors.  He was safe and stealthy as he moved into the lane on one side of the bus.

It was now almost impossible to contain their excitement.  All signs of decorum and dignity usually displayed by second-graders had fallen away.  The school bus itself was practically bouncing up and down through the sheer force of dozens of  7-year-olds pumping their fists in unison – it was inevitable and undeniable.

The trucker smiled.  He smiled big.  He reached up, and grabbed the cord, and HOOOOOOOONNNNNKKKKKKed!  The kids absolutely dissolved into giggles and cheers, and the truck driver looked like he had just been awarded the Heavyweight Championship Belt.  And he had – at least the second-grade version of it.  There’s not much time to bask in the glory, though.  Within a few seconds the high-pitched alarm was sounded: “There’s TWO trucks behind us!!!”

And just like that, their tireless work began again.

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  • Max Olivewood

    Hi Aliza. I have followed you on Patch and am very happy to see that you have severed the blogger’s umbilical and are now out in the blogosphere on your own as you deserve to be. The universal fist pumping sign you describe in your delightful piece as meaning “blow your horn” is also a universal sign (particularly in sports) for the throaty “YES” which follows success. Your fist has every reason to be doing it too.

    • Aliza @ The Worthington Post

      Hi, Max – your kind words mean the world! :)

  • Dave

    A memory from my own childhood! I remember the whole range of thoughts and emotions I went through the first time. “What the heck are they doing with their arms?…Are they being mean to that truck driver? Oooohhhh, the teacher is gonna be mad… Wow, that driver looks scary–what’s he gonna do to us? He’s coming closer! More kids are giving him the arm!…This sorta seems dangerous–he should be watching the road… Hey look, he’s smiling! What’s he doing now? HE HONKED THE HORN!!!! Aaaaaahhhhhahahahahahahahaha! How did they know he would do that? I WANT THAT JOB! I wouldn’t have to be in school all day! I could drive around all day and honk at kids! Let’s do it again!”

    • Aliza @ The Worthington Post

      So it’s been going on for THAT LONG???? :) Thanks, Dave.

  • Correne

    Aliza you are a brilliant writer!! My new favorite blog :)

    • Aliza @ The Worthington Post

      Thanks, Correne!!! You da best!

  • Kim

    I can’t believe you have never experienced the truck horn pull on other trips. And I am sure it was even better from your back seat vantage point. Thanks for coming with us and writing about us!

    • Aliza @ The Worthington Post

      Haha, Kim! I did have a great view from where I was sitting… :)

  • Desiree

    One of my happiest moments as a truck driver was seeing the kids giving me the signal to pull my horn. When they heard the sound & I saw their happy faces I always smiled. When they saw I was a Woman Truckers they would begin jumping up & down… esspecially the little girls. Those were proud moments in so many small towns across America that always brightened my day

    • Aliza @ The Worthington Post

      I love it! Your site is fantastic – please leave a link to it here so others can see it… a real role model for women, truck drivers, and hell – you’re a role model for men, too. :)

  • Teresa

    I LOVE IT !!!! Gave me a good laugh to think back to when I did that too!! hahaha!! Now I drive part time and get to be the driver that gives the blast of the air horn. I love that too. It does give the drive a boost too. Thanks!!!

    • Aliza @ The Worthington Post

      How cool to now be on the driving end of that fun! Oh, my god, how the kids on the bus LOVE it!

  • Dave Jackson

    Thanks for forwarding the story to me. I really enjoyed it.

    • Aliza @ The Worthington Post

      My great pleasure! Now, get back to writing! :)