Arwin found that driving the 'Santa Special' was more of an adventure than she had expected...
The LAST thing Arwin wanted to do on Christmas Eve was work! She HAD planned on sleeping in. But... she would get double time and she really needed the money. So when the bus dispacher called her, she agreed to work. He told her to come to the garage early, so she'd have time to look over her the routing schedule.
She got to the garage about an hour early. She had just closed her locker when she heard over the P.A. system..."Miss Arwin Lane... Please come to the dispachers office." She walked over to the office and the dispacher was sitting at his desk. He had a frantic look on his face. "Miss Lane," he said. "Buddy called in sick today, and I need you to take over his route." He handed her a map and continued talking. "It is a very SPECIAL route. You will be picking up the children at the North Orphanage and taking them to see Santa at Macy's Downtown."
"Oh GOD a bus full of sniviling brats," she thought. "Why do I...have to do it," she argued? "BAAH HUMBUG!!!"
"You are the ONLY one small enough that will fit in the suit," he said.
"Suit??? What suit," she asked??? From behind the desk he pull out... AN ELF COSTUME! "OH MY GOD!!! nooooooooooo" She gulped. "I HAVE to wear that???" "Yes," he said. "Even these." He handed her two rubber ears and the costume. "Now go put them on."
Reluctantly she grabbed the costume and went to the changing room. She wasn't sure if even DOUBLE time was worth THIS hastle. The costume fit her like a glove. It was surprisingly warm and comfortable. She felt a little tingle as she clipped the ears on. The shoes jingled as she walked over to the door of the dressingroom. Slowly she opened the door and peered out to see if anyone was looking. If the other drivers saw her she'd be the laughing stock of the garage. She made it to the dispachers door when she heard familiar voices behind her. "Hey look everyone.. It's Mz. Elf Lane!" HA AHA HAAA HAAAAAAAAAAA. The whole garage was in an uproar. Quickly she closed the door behind her. Still grumbling she sat in chair in front of the dispacher.
"Fine.. you look fine... " he said. "Now.. here are the key to the SANTA SPECIAL." "Santa special???" "Yes... this is a SPECIAL bus for the children at Christmas time." She had never heard of this bus. "It has been all cleaned and checked... You don't need to do your safety inspection. Just take 180 north to 8 north til it ends. The orphanage is right at the end. It will take you an hour or so to get there... at least," he said. "Take your time... you have the whole day for this trip. All the information is in this envelope." He handed her the map and an envelope. "Open it in the bus... You need to leave now." He got up from the desk and motioned for her to follow him.
Jingle!!! Jingle!!! Jingle!!! She tried hard to NOT have the shoes jingle as she walked... But the harder she tried NOT to make them jingle the louder they seemed to get. The whole garage was in an uproar as she followed the dispacher. She crouched down smaller and smaller thinking that if she was small no one would see her. But the laughing just echoed off the walls. The dispacher took her down a hallway. Hum... she'd never seen this part of the garage before. She didn't remember THIS hallway either. They stopped in front of a RED door. As the dispacher opened the door it let out a little RIIIING and when it opened they stood in front of a giant shiny yellow bus. SANTA SPECIAL was written in red lettering on the side.
She walked around the bus... Someone had already started it for her. She could smell the... exhaust? Was it exhaust??? It smelled like peppermint. Hum.. quite pleasant. She walked around to the door. It was open. The dispacher helped her up... muttered a few words and he was off. "fa la la la laaaaaaaaa la la la laaaaaa" rang out as she entered the bus. The radio was on... Christmas Carols!!! BAH HUMBUG... She put her lunch down behind the chair. This music would NOT do. She tried to change the radio station... but ALL the stations were Christmas! She tried turning off the radio... but it would not turn off. "GREAT" she muttered, wishing she had brought her mp3 player. "The radio's brooooook..nn" She yelled to the dispacher, as the red door closed behind him. "Well at least I can turn it down" she said, as she turned the knob.
The smell of chocolate greeted her nose. Looking to her left she saw a steaming cup of hot chocolate sitting on a hotpad. Had the dispacher left it for her??? She took a sip. It was sweet... but not too sweet... hot... but not too hot... full of whipped cream... but not too much whipped cream. It was rather.. JUST RIGHT! "Hum.. this may not be such a bad trip after all" she thought to herself. "Maybe the little brats will sleep the whole time!"
She opened the envelope the dispacher gave her. It said she was to meet a Mrs. C. Laus who would be waiting for her, with the children, at the orphanage. It said there would be a BONUS for her at the end of the trip. "A BONUS!!!" WOW.. she hadn't figured on a bonus.
Pulling the bus out of the garage, she noticed snow was starting to fall. "GREAT... Snow... Just what I need." The sun was just starting to come up in the distance. She quickly got on the interstate and headed north. She day dreamed what the BONUS would be. "fa la la la laaaaaaaaa la la la laaaaaa" sang softly in her ears. She grumbled....