Riding the Bus with My Sister

Riding the Bus with My Sister

by

Rachel Simon

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Riding the Bus with My Sister can help.

Riding the Bus with My Sister: 10. April: The Drivers’ Room Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
After they get off Rodolpho’s bus at the terminal, Rachel and Beth run into Jacob. Beth goes to the drivers’ private lounge to use the bathroom—besides them, she’s the only person allowed inside. It’s a spare room with lockers, vending machines, and metal tables. Beth introduces Rachel to several drivers and then starts collecting signatures for one of their birthday cards. Jacob tells Rachel that the drivers’ room is full of drama, ranging from casual gossip to heated arguments about Beth. Some of the drivers can’t stand her, while others defend her against their criticisms. Often, she gets in the middle of these arguments. Rachel suggests that she give the drivers more privacy, but she refuses—she says it’s the drivers’ fault they get into arguments.
Beth’s special permissions at the drivers’ lounge and role as signature collector show how she has found herself a well-defined (if controversial) place in the city’s bus driver community. This gives Beth the same kind of companionship and sense of belonging that Rachel desperately yearns for in her own life. However, as Rachel points out, Beth never bothers to ask whether she should be getting so close to the bus drivers, or whether they actually want her around. She seems to think that Beth is reaping the benefits from belonging in a community without taking any of the responsibility associated with it. This also raises the question of how the bus drivers would treat Beth—or whether they would tolerate her at all—if she didn’t have an intellectual disability.
Themes
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
Beth always watches out for new bus drivers and makes a point to ride with them on their first days. Six months ago, she met and befriended Henry, a gregarious new driver. But after a few months, he got tired of her constant presence. At the lounge one night, he told her that his boss, his passengers, and the other drivers were worried about how much time she spent on his bus. But she ignored his warnings. Eventually, Henry and Jacob got in a heated argument about her, and she noticed that Henry became cold and withdrawn.
Much like her involvement at the drivers’ lounge, Beth’s insistence on meeting and befriending all the new drivers proves that she’s deeply dedicated to her adopted community of bus drivers, but it also shows her lack of consideration for other people. She easily crosses the line from companion to annoyance, as she pays no attention to the drivers’ individual needs and preferences until they reach a breaking point and can no longer stand to have her around.
Themes
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
Beth is still hurt about her issues with Henry. Rachel tells Beth about the importance of setting boundaries, but Beth insists that she doesn’t need to, and Henry will tell her when he has a problem. She talks about Henry on the phone with Jesse, who advises her to give him space. Then, when Beth sees Henry get off his bus at the driver’s room, she isn’t hurt anymore.
Rachel knows that Beth’s refusal to look out for other people’s needs will continue to cause her trouble in the future. Yet Rachel also realizes that she can’t force Beth to recognize or change this pattern—instead, Beth will have to realize it on her own. And because of her developmental disability, this might require her to first make the same mistakes several times over.
Themes
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon