The other day, I was chatting with one of my neighbors, and she was telling me how to find the hill that everybody in town likes to sled down when it snows. Since people around here use landmarks more often that county road names when giving directions, she referred to “the house that has the school bus storm shelter in the yard.”
I had to stop her. “Wait, what do you mean? What school bus?”
“You mean you haven’t noticed it?” she said. “They shoved a school bus into the side of the hill in their yard and use it as a storm shelter.”
I could not believe I had missed such a hilarious and ingenious feat of engineering creativity on a road that I travel every single day. On my next drive past, I quickly glanced down into the ravine beside the highway, and sure enough, there was the front of a school bus sticking out of the side of the hill. It’s easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it. I wish I could get a better look, and I’d love to take a picture, but it’s fairly well-hidden on a treacherous curve. All you can get is a quick glance as you drive by at 55 mph.
Here is a picture I found of a similarly stunning accomplishment:
Now first of all, how would anybody come up with such a bizarre idea? Hey honey, what should we do with that spare school bus of ours? Oh, I know! We can shove it into the mountain and get in there whenever the weather starts looking dicey!
And then, once the idea is birthed, how does one accomplish such a Herculean task? It seems you would call in the bulldozers and heavy earth-moving equipment, dig a huge whole into the side of hill, put the bus in reverse and back in there, and then dump all the dug-up dirt on top of the rest of it. Except for the front part. And then, voila! Storm shelter! Complete with cushioned seats and a center aisle! I could be wrong. Maybe they used shovels.
I wonder what it would look like in there at the back of bus? Sort of like those last few scenes in the original Superman movie where Lois has that unfortunate run-in with the earthquake? Dirt outside the windows and all? I’d want to stay up near the driver’s seat, I think.
In all seriousness, I bet those people are the safest folks in town during tornado warnings. We Alabamians are especially sensitive to sirens and weather reports after what we suffered last April. But right down the road from me are people who actually get to climb into their Magic School Bus, nestled safely into the side of their hill, and wait out the storms.
We should all be so lucky to have a Noah-like ark on our premises, one that the townspeople might scoff at, but one that gets the job done.
Here’s to you, school-bus storm-shelter builders. I salute you. May your days be safe and secure.