Behind the Buses

Arianna Garcia '20, Assistant Editor-in-Chief

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For the majority of the human race, Monday mornings tend to be extremely unpleasant: one will groggily wake up, get dressed, and head off to school or work in a zombie-like state. Although I can certainly attest to this feeling, my Mondays have been made a little bit brighter this year thanks to someone completely unexpected: my school bus driver. As soon as the vivid yellow vehicle pulls up to my stop and opens its doors, I am greeted by the familiar sound of 80s music and a warm smile from Jessica, the woman who has been driving my bus since the beginning of junior year.

Jessica was born in Lima, Perú on March 10th, 1971. She spent ten years of her life in Perú until she came to the United States in April of 1981. Jessica revealed how she was initially terrified, but she found solace in the fact that her family would be with her in the U.S. Despite the initial hardships she endured, Jessica had a rather happy childhood; she loved spending time with her four siblings, stepbrother, and stepsister. Growing up, Jessica wanted to be a singer. She attended her first concert in 1987 at the Forum, singing her lungs out to Duran Duran songs. Her love of live music never really went away, as she attended a panoply of concerts throughout her life, including Depeche Mode, Prince, and Ice Cube. Jessica has also always been a proud Peruvian, cooking as many culturally rich dishes on the weekends as she can for her three children: Juan, Molly, and Gary. “Our food is the best food in the world,” she tells me. Jessica’s aunt recently came up with a plan for the two of them to open a small Peruvian restaurant in the Valley, where Jessica has been living for the past thirty years. Thus, Jessica has been working hard to sell some of the Peruvian food she makes every week. Although Jessica considers herself to be more Americanized because she has been living in the U.S. for so long, she admits that “[her] Peruvian side is the food.” Besides cooking on the weekends, she loves nothing more than watching unsolved mysteries on television with her four-year-old terrier Maltese, Cloud, and sipping on a warm cup of coffee. Jessica could talk about Cloud for hours (“he’s my bebé!”). She goes on to describe how protective she is of him, her kids, her siblings, and the Marymount girls who are on the bus every morning.

Jessica has been a school bus driver since 2006 and started out by working for the L.A. Unified School District. “My students loved me, and I loved my job,” she proudly admits. Although this is only her first year at Marymount, she tells me that she is always excited to pick up the girls. “It makes my day!” she exclaims. When I ask her if she has any pearls of wisdom for them, she says, “Study, keep your heads up, always be happy and smiling like your bus driver, and always make yourselves a priority.”

Jessica admits that she would like to spend this year doing things for herself, including going to see more movies, working on making her business a tangible reality, and being around family more often. She is also eager to travel more, telling me that she will be flying to Georgia this April to visit her grandmother for her 70th birthday, and then returning to her second home, Perú, in June. More than anything, though, she wants to continue focusing on everything she has been blessed with. When I see Jessica every weekday morning, I am constantly reminded that a negative mind does not give one a positive life. Although Mondays can be the absolute worst, we must make a conscious effort to have a disposition that’s as sunny as a bright yellow school bus, and realize how beautiful life truly is.

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