Self Analyze/Bus Driver Both
The Ability to Self-Analyze
Unlike most tales I have included under the heading of Short Stories, this one does not involve Aboriginal people. I include it because of the spontaneous humour of the main character, Sid Simeon. He died a year ago and is greatly missed by his family, grandchildren and friends, for good reason. My connection with him was limited but he was someone of considerable wisdom and wit, and someone never to be forgotten. I trust this story exemplifies why.In the late 1970s, I was a deputy-principal of a district high school in the south-west of Western Australia.
Sid was the publican of one of the hotels in town, a humorous, lively character with abundant personality as befitted his vocation. He had a background as a league footballer in Perth and, I believe, for a season or so in Adelaide.
When this story start, he and his wife had two daughters who were very close in age, then about nine and eight, and also a year apart in a schooling sense. Both were vivacious, well-behaved and always seemed keen to please.
In the two years my family and I were in the town, Sid and I had a friendly relationship without being overly close: golf, the occasional beer after it and, as he coached the local football team, my support in taking physical activities at training for him at times. And after my family and I had left town, we stayed in touch via golf matches and the occasional beer or two. One day in mid-summer, my wife and I invited the family to come for a barbeque, preceded by a swim.
The girls, then aged about thirteen and twelve and now very pretty, were cavorting in the pool as he and I stood chatting.
I nodded towards the girls and said to him, “Those two are starting to reach the age where I think you’ll have a lot of young males calling to take them out.”
He nodded thoughtfully. “Yep, and the first kid who knocks on my door and looks and sounds like me, I’ll murder the bastard!!!!”
The Bus Driver
I am indebted to Mark “Shadow” Davis, a Noongar man from Northam, for this story. He told it at the start of an important meeting with a Commonwealth government agency to illustrate the subtle nuances of racism; how they pervade every part of our expression and sentiment, even well-intended sentiment.
The school bus driver was fed up with the feuding and name-calling between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children on his bus. So before a school trip to the swimming pool for lessons one day, he waited as both teachers lined all the children up at the door to the bus. When the kids were in line and quiet, he stood in front of them.
“Right,” he told them. “Every day I drive this bus, I hear you kids bickering and calling each other names, and most of it has to do with colour: black or white. So, from today, there’ll be a rule on my bus. It’s that there’s no black or white. From now on, everyone’s going to be green.”
He stared at the children.
“So what colour are we all going to be.”
“Green,” they mumbled.
“Sorry, I didn’t hear you. Say it louder.”
“Green!” they called.
“Try it once more, as loud as you can. What colour will you all be?”
“GREEEEEEEN!” came the screeched reply.
“Good,” the driver applauded. “Okay, now you know my rules, you can get on the bus. Light green up the front and dark green down the back!”