Where are the Brakes on This Thing?


An unusual bus driver in unusual circumstances can make a big difference!

We had just arrived at Fort Walsh National Historic Site, in Saskatchewan, Canada, which in years gone by served as the first training centre for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, then known as the North West Mounted Police. It was also the site of what became known in the history books as the Cypress Hills Massacre, the sad event that motivated the newly-formed Canadian Government to form the police force and send it west!

After having driven for hours through totally flat prairie lands, we were amazed to suddenly find ourselves surrounded by hills, some of them quite steep! Due to extreme fire danger, cars were not allowed to actually drive down to the historical sites and as we parked our van in the designated area, we couldn't help but wonder how we would reach our destination. It would have been a long walk up and down steep precipices in the best of times, but the heat and high humidity made the prospect of such a hike quite unpleasant.

We were relieved to discover that a school bus would take us to the old fort, and that its driver would be our guide. But our relief was short-lived. When all the passengers were aboard this yellow driving device, the driver looked up at us, a puzzled expression on his face, and said: "Where are the brakes on this thing?"

Not too comforting considering the circumstances!

"I am so sorry," he continued. "The regular driver called in sick. Today is my first day to drive this vehicle!"

I wondered if I should insist on a refund, but it was too late. The driver had inconsiderately started the bus and was driving us up a tall monster called a mountainous hill.

Once on the top he halted, so that he could show us the steep road leading down to the site of the massacre. "Look at that monstrous descent!" He exclaimed. "I wonder if we will make it?"

Would we be joining the victims of this massacre as well? But before any of us could protest, he was off. We were horrified when he insisted on narrating the events leading to the above-mentioned massacre while making the descent. But what was even worse was that he couldn't seem to talk without using his hands: both of them! He must have been Italian or something because his hands never left the air and the poor steering wheel was seriously neglected.

"Euh . . ," my youngest son called out from the back of the bus, "can I see your driver's license please?"

"Who needs a driver's license!" He called out. "Hopefully I passed my test this time. I'm waiting for the results! But if you're afraid, just close your eyes. It works for me!"

In reality we enjoyed the experience. The driver's whit kept us laughing so hard that we were left panting. What he lacked in driving skills, he made up for with his invaluable knowledge of the area's history. He was skilled in making the past come alive while keeping us on the edge of our seats. Literally. What could have been a dull experience was brought alive by his sense of humor.

We would later discover that during the school year, he was employed as a school bus driver. I envied the kids who had the privilege of riding on his bus, and I am sure teachers love him. When a child comes to school smiling, discipline will tend to be at an all-time low!

Hardships are always less difficult with a smile on our lips. Deadlines are less stressful when one can find joy in a situation. Family differences are much more quickly righted when smiles are shared. In fact, the apostle Paul says: "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Phil 4:4 NIV). And later, he elaborated on the positive results of being joyful in the Lord: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Phil 4:6-7 NIV)

Why worry when we have such a caring Heavenly Father? He is the One who will fill us with inner peace, no matter the circumstances.

Paul concluded: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things." (Phil 4:8 NIV) By concentrating on such thoughts, we can't help but be joyful in the Lord. So, let us "Be joyful always!" (1 Thess 5:16 NIV)

Abominable precipices? Nah! Nothing to worry about! Let's face them with a smile on our lips. Daddy is at the steering wheel.

Rob Chaffart

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