This Essay will be about these questions: In Jim Lehrer’s autobiography, what story do I remember the most? What happened in the story? What is it that grabbed me? What did he do that made it grab me? The story that I remember the best… I had two that were real close, but I will only cover one. It is an event from his childhood, and it is about the main theme in the book: buses.
Lehrer’s father had opened a bus company, Kansas Central Lines, and had purchased three buses to run it. Unfortunately, they were cheap, used and unreliable. The one Lehrer rode in was Betsy. Betsy had a problem with her air brakes, and because of the world war, the parts to repair her were unobtainable. This meant that any fix they gave here was only temporary.
There was one instance where one of the drivers was in the bus with Lehrer next to him. They had almost finished their route and were nearing the hotel which was their destination. However, as they got within the city limits, Lehrer noticed something. The driver was not stopping at the intersections! Instead he felt that the bus was going very slowly through and speeding up on the other side. He realized with a shock that Betsy had no brakes! He glanced behind him. Thankfully, none of the passengers had noticed. The driver was sweating like crazy. After another two intersections, the passengers had clearly noticed. They had not panicked or said anything or gotten out their seats. Yet.
There was only one more intersection. But it was the busiest one yet. The driver was not accelerating the bus at all and had not been for the past minute. The bus was going incredibly slowly. But there was no way yo make it across the street before the light turned red. The bus inched forward. The light turned yellow. The bus driver started honking his horn. They came onto the intersection with cars zooming past them. But Lehrer describes it as being quiet and peaceful inside. “There was no screaming, no shattering glass, no screeching of tires. It was like in one of those movies where Jesus is walking through a crowd; silent, impenetrable.” The bus made it across and the driver somehow made a complete stop in front of the hotel. But as they were approaching their destination, Lehrer hollered out from the passenger side seat: “Our brakes are out! Since Valley Center!” Then the panic started. People screamed and shouted and demanded refunds. His mother buried her face in her hands. As they got off, Lehrer’s brother called him “Mr. Big Mouth.” Which stuck.
The reason that this grabbed me was a totally different reason from the other choice story; the one about the pinball machine. That story had a sense of suspense, but it was of a different kind. This is more of an action story, like something to put in a movie. It is thrilling even to read off a computer PDF, and is not likely to bore you. You always want to know what is going to happen next.
This is the story that I can remember best, and I know that is true because I could recite it all from memory. I only had to check the PDF once because I remembered Lehrer saying Valley Forge but I knew that was not in Kansas. That concludes this essay. My next post will be for the business class. It will be on “How can the strategy of going the extra mile help me to attain my goals?”