Riding the Bus with My Sister

Riding the Bus with My Sister

by

Rachel Simon

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Bailey Character Analysis

Bailey—or “Crazy Bailey,” as Beth calls him—is a fun-loving 40-something father and bus driver. He’s chronically sleep-deprived because he constantly has to deal with his teenage children’s antics, but he also tells Rachel about the importance of optimism, patience, and recognizing the limits of what one can control. He goes to extraordinary lengths to look out for Beth. He funds her makeover at the end of the book, and because he wants to help her get a job, he starts paying her to help get his kids ready for school in the morning. However, his efforts ultimately fail, because Beth refuses to work. This reflects Rachel’s argument that truly loving people often requires simply accepting them rather than trying to change them.

Bailey Quotes in Riding the Bus with My Sister

The Riding the Bus with My Sister quotes below are all either spoken by Bailey or refer to Bailey. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Grand Central Publishing edition of Riding the Bus with My Sister published in 2013.
18. July: The Optimist Quotes

Wouldn’t it be nice, even liberating, if I could begin to see beyond my cynicism and resistance and controlling impulses? […] I think about how so many of these drivers, at crucial turning points, learned to view and inhabit their own lives in fresh ways, [and] slowly it comes to me.

Beth is living by her own choices, unfettered by the whims of an institution or group home placement decision; she travels according to the starred dots on her map; she eats what she likes when she’s hungry; she boldly dresses in a fireworks display of ensembles that declare, Look at me, I count in this world. She is, in many ways, the embodiment of self-determination.

A tension that I hadn’t even realized I’d been feeling—a tension that has possessed my body throughout this day—for weeks, no, for months—begins to ease.

Related Characters: Rachel Simon (speaker), Bailey, Olivia, Beth
Page Number: 194
Explanation and Analysis:

Beth has sought out mentors in places where others might not look, and, moreover, taken the time, and endured the pain, to weed out those drivers who are decent and kind and reflective from those who are indifferent or hostile. The ones I’m meeting are, I realize as I quickly do the math, only about a sixth of the whole bus company. That took Beth a huge amount of trial and error—and, yes, determination. I shake my head, amazed at how much I’d somehow missed, and then, with a surge of optimism, wonder if one out of six people in any profession or community would also be exceptionally thoughtful. How could I really know? Have I ever spent this much time exploring the worldviews of my colleagues at school or the bookstore? Do I have a clue about whether my neighbors feel committed to the Golden Rule?

Related Characters: Rachel Simon (speaker), Beth , Bailey, Claude, Tim, Jacob, Estella, Rodolpho, Rick
Page Number: 195
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Riding the Bus with My Sister LitChart as a printable PDF.
Riding the Bus with My Sister PDF

Bailey Character Timeline in Riding the Bus with My Sister

The timeline below shows where the character Bailey appears in Riding the Bus with My Sister. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
18. July: The Optimist
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
Back in the present, in the early afternoon, the silly, portly, sleep-deprived driver Bailey parks his bus in front of Kmart and yawns. He and Beth joke about how... (full context)
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
After an elderly woman yells “Get a job!” in Beth’s face, Bailey suggests that Beth help him make sure that his kids get to school in the... (full context)
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
...supermarket, an animal shelter, or even the bus company—but she doesn’t want any of it. Bailey tries, too—he wants to identify and build on Beth’s strengths, just like he does with... (full context)
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
In a traffic jam, Bailey remains totally calm and patient, because he knows he can’t do anything to control the... (full context)
33. December: Swans and Witches
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
Rachel takes Beth for a makeover, a holiday gift from Bailey and Rick, at “the most patient—and purple—salon in town.” Bailey hopes that it will lift... (full context)