I’ve always been fascinated with people who are able to do things I cannot.
Pretty much my entire 21-year sports writing career has been based around this fascination. To me, what even the most mediocre of athletes are able to accomplish is an absolute marvel. I can’t do any of it and freely admit that. But I have spent my entire life enjoying sports, studying sports and writing about sports — not as an expert, but as someone who knows talent when he sees it.
My interest in things I am unable to do doesn’t begin and end with the world of sports, however. As it turns out, there are many things in this world at which I stink. Truthfully, outside of writing and possibly cooking, I’m not sure I’m particularly good at much of anything.
That fact often leaves me in jaw-hanging wonder of both the world around me and the talented people in it.
I love watching survival shows on television — you know, the ones where the guy is alone in the words for a month with only a switchblade and a ball of twine, eating bugs and drinking water he boiled by staring at a pile of twigs until they ignited — even though I have never, and hopefully will never, go camping.
I enjoy watching artists create, even though I maxed out my artistic potential at stick figures. I like watching people work on home improvement projects, when about the best I can do around the house is change the furnace filter (when I remember not to put it in upside down). I could sit for hours and watch one of those shows where someone builds a motorcycle or muscle car — even though last week, I had to look up how to jump a car battery on YouTube, and even then figured I probably was going to electrocute myself when I did it.
Chances are you have a talent I covet and would love to watch, mostly because I have so few marketable talents in my repertoire. From the miraculous to the mundane, I am in perpetual awe of the people around me and the talents they possess.
Take school bus drivers, for instance.
Because I chaperoned my son’s field trip to Charleston Falls and my daughter’s final performance with the Troy Pop Rocks within 72 hours of one another, I spent quite a bit of time on Troy City Schools buses this past week. While on those bus rides, it struck me how incredibly talented — and how often under-appreciated — our school bus drivers truly are.
How many times have you entrusted your most precious cargo, your children, to a school bus driver? Whether it’s transportation to and from school ever day, athletic events or field trips, school bus drivers touch the lives of nearly every student in your district at some point in their lives. How many times do you ship off your children with the school bus driver and not give it much of a second thought, because you fully expect them to be returned safely, because you have absolute faith in their school bus driver?
While I certainly can’t relate directly to the life of a school bus driver (full disclosure: I can’t even drive a manual transmission), there are elements of their job to which I can. Driving a large vehicle is hard. Being around noisy kids is hard. Driving a large vehicle full of noisy kids seems next to impossible.
And yet, bus drivers somehow manage to do it, day in and day out.
I know I certainly couldn’t do it.
On our trip to Columbus with the Pop Rocks, our bus driver repeatedly had to battle through congested traffic on the way to the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, then squeeze the bus in and out of spaces I wouldn’t attempt if I was driving a Ford Pinto. And yet he never seemed to lose his cool, sliding the bus into the cramped quarters just as easily as I’m going to put a period at the end of this sentence (which, you know, goes back to the only talent in this world I happen to have).
Twice in three days, two different school bus drivers managed to get myself, my wife and, most important of all, our children, where we needed to be. That’s a talent I think we all can appreciate.
You know, people say teachers don’t get enough attention for all they do for kids — and I couldn’t possibly agree more. But neither do school bus drivers.
They have talents and abilities I can only appreciate from afar.
David Fong appears on Thursdays in the Troy Daily News. Contact him at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong.