Transcript: Precious Cargo | Aug 11, 2016

Nam sits in the studio. She's in her forties, with shoulder-length curly brown hair. She's wearing glasses and a pale blue blazer over a white blouse.
A caption on screen reads "Precious cargo."

She says WHEN AUTHOR CRAIG DAVIDSON TOOK
A JOB DRIVING A SCHOOL BUS FOR
KIDS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS, HE DID
IT BECAUSE HE NEEDED A JOB.
AS THE SCHOOL YEAR UNFOLDED, HE
FOUND MORE THAN A PAYCHEQUE.
HE FOUND KINSHIP, STRENGTH,
INSIGHT, AND A BUS FULL OF HIS
FELLOW NERDS.
HE DETAILS HIS INVOLVING JOURNEY
WITH THEM ALL IN HIS MEMOIR:
PRECIOUS CARGO: MY YEAR DRIVING
THE KIDS ON SCHOOL BUS 3077.
CRAIG DAVIDSON
JOINS US NOW.
WELCOME.

Craig says THANK YOU NAM, THANKS FOR HAVING
ME.

He is in his forties, has a short red beard, short brown hair, and is wearing glasses, and a gray shirt.
A caption on screen reads "Precious cargo. Bumpy road."

Nam says IT'S A PLEASURE TO SPEAK TO
YOU.

Craig says WELL IT'S A PLEASURE TO BE HERE.

Nam says I ENJOYED THIS BOOK.
SO, I WANTED TO ASK YOU
ABOUT WHAT LIFE WAS LIKE FOR
YOU BEFORE YOU STARTED DRIVING
THE SCHOOL BUS, IT WAS FULL OF
UPS AND DOWNS, CORRECT?

Craig says YEAH, AND I THINK THAT PROBABLY
AT THE TIME IT WAS MORE DOWNS
THAN UPS.
I WAS A FAILURE.
THIS IS HOW I CONTEXTUALIZED
MYSELF, AND I GO INTO IN THE
EARLY CHAPTERS IN THE BOOK--I
WAS A WRITER.
AND I'D PUT OUT TWO BOOKS.
ONE OF WHICH DID OK.
THE OTHER OF WHICH TANKED
ABYSMALLY.
AND IT WAS ALL MY FAULT.

Nam says SO HOW WAS IT YOUR FAULT--SORRY.

Craig says WELL, YOU KNOW, I GUESS WHEN YOU
WRITE A BOOK IT'S A SOLITARY
ENDEAVOUR.
IT'S YOU AND THE PAGE, AND SO
WHEN SOMETHING DOESN'T WORK THE
FINGER OF BLAME REALLY ONLY
POINTS TO ONE PERSON, THAT'S THE
PERSON HOLDING THE PEN.
SO--OR AT LEAST THAT'S HOW I
CONTEXTUALIZED IT, BUT I DID
HAVE EDITORS AND I DID HAVE
AN AGENT, NEITHER OF WHOM I
REALLY LISTENED TO.
YOU KNOW, I FELT LIKE--I THINK I
WAS 28, 29 WHEN I WAS WRITING
THE BOOK, AND IT WAS A LOT OF
HUBRIS ON MY PART THINKING,
"EVEN IF YOU GUYS UNDERSTAND
WHAT YOU'RE DOING, I KNOW WHAT
I'M DOING, I KNOW THAT I'M GOING
TO MAKE THIS WORK."
AND AFTERWARDS WHEN THE BOOK
COMES OUT AND YOU REALIZE YOU'VE
MADE A COLOSSAL MISTAKE, AND
HADN'T LISTENED WHEN YOU SHOULD
HAVE, THEN THAT ONLY INTENSIFIES
KIND OF THOSE FEELINGS OF SHAME
AND WORRY ABOUT BEING--HERE,
YOU'RE 30 YEARS OLD, YOU'RE
LOOKING DOWN THE BARREL OF A
VERY LONG LIFE AS A FAILURE.
AND THAT'S HOW I SORT OF SAW
MYSELF.
AND THEN YOU SEE YOURSELF LIKE,
"I WORKED SO HARD TO BE GOOD AT
THIS, AND I FAILED, WHAT COULD I
POSSIBLY DO, YOU KNOW, PUTTING
THIS MUCH KIND OF AMBITION AND
FORWARD MOMENTUM TOWARDS A GOAL,
AND IF I'M STILL NOT GOOD ENOUGH
TO REACH IT THEN WHAT AM I GOOD
ENOUGH TO DO?"
SO THAT'S WHERE I FOUND MYSELF.

Nam says I THINK IT'S INTERESTING THAT
YOU CONSIDERED YOURSELF A
FAILURE, YOU WEREN'T EVEN 30...
AND YOU HAD TWO BOOKS, I MEAN
NOT MANY PEOPLE CAN EVEN HAVE A
BOOK THEIR WHOLE LIFE.

Craig says YEAH, I--YOU KNOW, AND I SUPPOSE
THERE'S THAT NOW LOOKING BACK
RETROACTIVELY AS A 40-YEAR-OLD.
THERE'S A LOT OF STUFF THAT YOU
FEEL AS A YOUNGER PERSON, I
GUESS, THAT DOESN'T RESONATE AND
YOU REALIZE THAT YOU WERE KIND
OF NOT IN YOUR RIGHT HEAD, BUT
WHETHER OR NOT I CAN LOOK BACK
NOW, AT THE TIME THAT'S HOW I
CAN CONTEXTUALIZE MYSELF.
AND IT TOOK ITSELF OUT IN ALL
SORTS OF WAYS.
I BECAME REALLY ISOLATED, I
DIDN'T GO OUT.
I TOOK OUT A LOT ON MY PARENTS
WHO WERE LIVING THERE AT THE
TIME.
AND THERE'S NO PEOPLE YOU CAN
TAKE FOR GRANTED MORE THAN YOUR
PARENTS, YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN,
THEY DESERVE IT THE LEAST OF ALL
AND YET YOU, KIND OF, ARE THE
HARDEST ON THEM SOMETIMES WHEN
YOU'RE HAVING A ROUGH TIME.
SO I JUST WASN'T A FUN PERSON TO
BE AROUND.
AND THAT'S KIND OF THE--AND I
WAS SCUFFLING FOR WORK TOO.
YOU KNOW, I HAD A HOUSE BUT I
WAS, KIND OF, GETTING CLOSE TO
DEFAULTING ON MY MORTGAGE, SO
THERE WERE A LOT OF PRESSURES
ALL OF WHICH I FELT THAT I'D
HEAPED ON MYSELF.

Nam says AND EVEN TO 30, WHEN YOU
HEAR 30 IT'S LIKE, "DUN, DUN,
DUN."
RIGHT?

Craig says YEAH.
YEAH, AND I--YOU KNOW, I DIDN'T
HAVE A GIRLFRIEND, I DIDN'T HAVE
A RELATIONSHIP, I DIDN'T HAVE
CHILDREN.
I FELT LIKE I COULD PUT ALL
THOSE THINGS OFF UNTIL I WAS A
SUCCESS IN MY GIVEN FIELD, AND
THEN TO FIND OUT THAT YOU'D KIND
OF ISOLATED YOURSELF AND WORKED
SO HARD TOWARDS A GIVEN GOAL AND
THEN TO HAVE THAT BLOW UP IN
YOUR FACE, AND THEN LOOK AROUND
AT YOUR FRIENDS WHO HAD HAD
RELATIONSHIPS, AND HAVE KIDS,
AND HAVE ALL THE THINGS THAT YOU
THOUGHT YOU WOULD GET LATER, YOU
JUST FEEL LIKE YOU'RE SO FAR
BEHIND YOUR GROWTH CURVE.

Nam says I'VE BEEN THERE...

Craig says RIGHT.

Nam says IT'S SUFFOCATING.

Craig says IT IS.

Nam says SO YOU START TAKING A SERIES OF
JOBS.
YOU LOSE SOME JOBS...
LIKE THE LIBRARY.

Craig says RIGHT.

Nam continues AND THE DAY THAT YOU COME HOME
YOU HAD, YOU KNOW, A DEBACLE OF
AN INTERVIEW...

Craig says YES.

Nam continues AND YOU COME HOME, AND YOU
FIND A FLYER.
SO WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

Craig says YEAH, WELL, I PULLED IT OUT, AND
TOOK A LOOK AT IT--AND IT WAS
THE BUS COMPANY, FIRST STUDENT
CANADA, BASICALLY SOLICITING
APPLICANTS THROUGH PUTTING
LEAFLETS IN EVERYONE'S MAILBOX
GOING DOWN MY STREET.
AND TO ME IT WAS LIKE A LIFE
PRESERVER, IT WAS LIKE HERE IS A
PERFECT JOB FOR ME BECAUSE I
THOUGHT, "OK, I CAN STILL WRITE,
I CAN GET UP IN THE MORNING,
DRIVE, YOU KNOW, 50-ODD KIDS TO
SCHOOL IN ONE OF THESE BIG OLD
BUSES."
COME HOME, DO MY WRITING, GO OUT
IN THE AFTERNOON, PICK THEM UP,
COME BACK.
SO IT WAS THE PERFECT KIND OF
PART-TIME ARRANGEMENT THAT I
THOUGHT WAS IDEAL, ALL I HAD TO
DO WAS GET THE JOB.
AND I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE
KIDS ON THE BUS IN A LITTLE BIT.

Craig says MM HMM, SURE.

Nam asks BUT WHAT WERE YOU LIKE AS A
YOUNG CHILD?

Craig says WHAT WAS I LIKE?
WELL, I MEAN, I WAS AN
OVERWEIGHT, RED-HAIRED, CLASS
CLOWN.
YOU KNOW, THAT WAS KIND OF MY
THING.
I REALIZED, YOU KIND OF DO A
SELF-APPRAISAL...
EVEN AS A KID, LIKE, "WELL,
WHAT AM I BEST SUITED TO BE
HERE?"
I CERTAINLY WASN'T A JOCK, I
CERTAINLY WASN'T A COOL KID.
AND I HAD A FACILITY TO MAKE
PEOPLE LAUGH, AND I HAD NO
PROBLEM WITH MAKING A FOOL OF
MYSELF FOR OTHER PEOPLE'S
AMUSEMENT.
SO, YEAH, THAT WAS KIND OF MY
NICHE THAT I FOUND MYSELF IN
FOR--NOT JUST AS A CHILD--BUT ON
INTO HIGH SCHOOL AND EVEN INTO
UNIVERSITY, KIND OF AS LIKE THE
FUNNY GUY.
AND THEN AFTER A WHILE I
REALIZED THAT MAYBE THAT
WASN'T MY--I WAS MAYBE A BIT
MORE INTROVERTED THAN ALL THAT,
SO IT SEEMED LIKE WRITING WAS A
MORE NATURAL WAY OF--KIND
OF EXPRESSING MY CREATIVITY, BUT
NOT KIND OF IN A CLASS CLOWNISH
WAY.

Nam says AND I GUESS AS A CLASS CLOWN
PEOPLE EXPECT CERTAIN THINGS
FROM YOU?

Craig says YEAH, IT KIND OF FELT EXHAUSTING
AT SOMETIMES, YOU KNOW.

Nam says YEAH.

Craig continues BUT I'M SURE THAT LIKE THE STAR
ATHLETE OR ANY OF THOSE LITTLE
BOXES THAT YOU GET PUT IN IN
HIGH SCHOOL PROBABLY ALL FEEL
EXHAUSTING.
WHEN YOU GO BACK TO YOUR HOME AT
THE END OF THE DAY AND JUST GO,
"HUH," YOU TAKE OFF THAT KIND
OF ROBE THAT YOU'RE WEARING OF
WHO YOU ARE, YOUR NICHE THAT YOU
FEEL IN YOUR HIGH SCHOOL, AND
JUST BE WHO YOU REALLY ARE.
SO YEAH, IT GOT TO BE EXHAUSTING
TRYING TO MAKE PEOPLE LAUGH, AND
I CERTAINLY HAD A LOT OF COMING
TO GRIPS WITH THE IDEA THAT
BECOMING A COMEDIAN IN REAL LIFE
WOULD BE A VERY DIFFICULT--YOU
CAN SEE WHY A LOT OF THEM ARE
DEPRESSED...

Nam says THEY DRINK AND
DEPRESSED, YEAH.

Craig says YEAH, YEAH, EXACTLY.

Nam says SO YOU GET THIS JOB.
WHAT KIND OF--WERE YOU SURPRISED
TO GET THE JOB?
AND WHAT KIND OF TRAINING DID
THEY GIVE YOU?

Craig says I FOUND THAT THE LEAFLET WAS A
GOOD EXAMPLE--LIKE, THEY CLEARLY
WERE LOOKING FOR APPLICANTS.
YOU KNOW, EVEN ON THE BACK OF
BUSES YOU'LL SEE, IF YOU LOOK AT
A SCHOOL BUS AND USUALLY IT WILL
SAY, "CALL THIS NUMBER, LOOKING
FOR DRIVERS."
I MEAN, THEY'RE ALWAYS LOOKING
FOR DRIVERS, IT'S ONE OF THOSE
KIND OF POSITIONS OR JOBS WHERE
THERE'S A FAIRLY BIG TURNOVER
FOR ANY NUMBER OF REASONS.
SO THE JOB ITSELF WAS FINE.
SHE WAS--THE SUPERVISOR, OR
SORRY, THE JOB--THE ONE WHO WAS
OFFERING ME THE JOB WANTED TO
GIVE ME THE JOB AS BADLY AS I
WANTED IT...
SO IT WAS A CASE OF MUTUAL
DESPERATION.
SO YEAH, I GOT HIRED AND DID A
VERY INTENSIVE TRAINING, YOU
KNOW, FOR EVEN AS BADLY AS THEY
WANT YOU AS A DRIVER THEY DON'T
WANT TO LET YOU GET ON THE ROAD
UNLESS YOU HAVE THE RIGHT
DISPOSITION AND, YOU KNOW, PROVE
THAT YOU CAN ACTUALLY HANDLE ONE
OF THESE BUSES, WHICH IS,AN
ENORMOUS--YOU KNOW, A BIG BUS
IS LIKE AN ENORMOUS VEHICLE
TO DRIVE AROUND OBVIOUSLY,
AND I DID A LOT OF TRAINING
IN, LIKE, DOWNTOWN CALGARY.
AND THERE WERE SOME
WHITE-KNUCKLE RIDES THERE,
BECAUSE THE BACK OF THE BUS WILL
SWING OUT LIKE A GOOD FOUR TO
FIVE FEET, SO IF YOU'RE NOT
CAREFUL WITH THE WAY YOU'RE
STEERING AROUND CORNERS, YOU
KNOW, YOU CAN DO A LOT OF
DAMAGE.
SO THERE WAS A VERY INTENSIVE
TRAINING, AND PASSED MY
LICENSING AND THEN IT CAME TO
THE ROUTE ASSIGNMENTS.

Nam says I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THAT
IN A SECOND
BUT WHAT IMAGE DID YOU HAVE
ABOUT BUS DRIVERS BEFORE YOU
TOOK THE JOB.

Craig says RIGHT, WELL
PROBABLY THE SAME THAT MOST
PEOPLE HAVE

Nam says YEAH.

Craig says WHICH IS--YOU KNOW, I TOOK THE
BUS TO SCHOOL IN HIGH SCHOOL,
AND MY BUS DRIVER WAS--I'M SURE
VERY NICE--BUT SHE WAS KIND OF A
FACELESS ENTITY WHO, YOU KNOW,
SHE GOT ON THE BUS, AND YOU
WOULD ONLY FALL UNDER HER
SCRUTINY IF YOU WERE CHUCKING
ORANGE PEELS AT SOMEBODY'S HEAD
OR, LIKE, CAUSING A DISTURBANCE
BASICALLY, AND THAT WAS THE ONLY
TIME THAT SHE WOULD REALLY
BOTHER TO INTERACT WITH YOU.
SO I GUESS I FELT LIKE THERE WAS
A CERTAIN SENSE OF--FIRST OF ALL
TOO, I WAS 30 YEARS OLD, AND I
THOUGHT, "AM I--I'M WAY TOO
YOUNG TO BE DOING THIS," YOU
KNOW.
I ALWAYS THOUGHT BUS DRIVERS
WERE OLDER, AND THEY HAVE
SCIATICA
AND THEY SMOKE, YOU KNOW, BIG
LONG SKINNY CIGARETTES, YOU
KNOW, BEFORE GETTING ON THE BUS.
SO I WAS DEFINITELY GOING
THROUGH A POINT IN MY LIFE WHERE
I THOUGHT--IT WAS SHOCKING TO ME
THAT I WAS DOING IT
BUT AT THE SAME POINT I
REALIZED I NEEDED THIS JOB
DESPERATELY, AND I WAS GRATEFUL
TO HAVE IT.

Nam says AND AT SOME POINT THEY ACTUALLY
KIND OF GAVE YOU AN OUT AS FAR
AS WHAT ROUTE YOU WOULD
TAKE, BUT YOU TOOK THIS
PARTICULAR ROUTE, WHY?

Craig says YEAH.
WELL, LIKE A GREAT MANY THINGS
IN MY LIFE NAM, IT WAS A SNAP
DECISION.
AND SOME OF THOSE HAVE GONE VERY
WELL, AND SOME OF THEM HAVE GONE
DISMALLY.
BUT IN THIS CASE MY ROUTE
ASSIGNMENT COORDINATOR WAS JUST
FIRING OFF DIFFERENT ROUTES, AND
THERE WERE A COUPLE THAT WOULD
INVOLVE BIG BUSES BUT THEY WERE
FURTHER AWAY FROM MY HOME.
AND THE ONE NEAREST TO ME,
GEOGRAPHICALLY, WAS A SMALL BUS
FOR FIVE CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL
NEEDS.
AND THAT WAS THE ONE I ENDED UP
CHOOSING AFTER
NO, AFTER WHAT WAS, TO BE
HONEST, IN THE BOOK I SAY A
BEAT.
YOU KNOW, SHE OFFERS ME THE
ROUTE, AND THEN A BEAT, WHICH,
YOU KNOW, IN SCREENWRITING IS
JUST SOMEBODY TAKES A MOMENT TO
REFLECT AND THINK ABOUT THEIR
NEXT WORDS.
AND I DID.
IT WAS A LONG BEAT, AND I
FINALLY SAID YES, LET'S DO THAT.

Nam asks WHY DID YOU HESITATE?

Craig says WELL, I THINK FOR THE SAME
REASON A LOT OF PEOPLE WOULD
HESITATE IS THAT I WASN'T SURE
I'D BE THE RIGHT PERSON TO DO
THAT ROUTE, TO WORK WITH
THOSE KIDS, BECAUSE I'D
HAD NOTHING IN MY OWN LIFE
THAT CORRESPONDED TO
THAT EXPERIENCE, YOU KNOW?
I DIDN'T HAVE ANYBODY IN MY
IMMEDIATE FAMILY WHO HAD
ANYTHING THAT COULD BE SEEN AS A
COGNITIVE DISABILITY OR A DELAY
OR A PHYSICAL DISABILITY.
THE CLOSEST THING, AS I WRITE IN
THE BOOK, IS I HAVE AN IN-LAW
WHO FELL DOWN THE STAIRS WHEN
SHE WAS VERY YOUNG AND ENDED UP
HAVING SOME TRAUMA TO HER HEAD
AND TO HER BRAIN.
BUT REALLY THERE WAS NOTHING
VERY CLOSE AND INTIMATE TO ME
THAT I'D HAD MUCH EXPERIENCE
WITH THAT, AND I THOUGHT, "OH,
IT WOULD BE SO MUCH EASIER IN
SOME WAYS JUST TO DRIVE A BIG
BUS AND BE A FACELESS BUS
DRIVER."
BUT AT THE OTHER POINT I THOUGHT
THIS IS A WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY
PERHAPS.
AND IF I'M NOT THE RIGHT PERSON,
LISTEN, I WILL BEG OFF THE
ROUTE.
I WILL AT SOME POINT JUST SAY,
"YOU KNOW WHAT, IT'S PROBABLY
BEST THAT I TAKE A DIFFERENT
ROUTE."
AND I KNEW THAT I ALWAYS HAD
THAT, KIND OF, AS A FAILSAFE.

Nam asks WHAT KIND OF
DISABILITIES--EVEN USING THE
WORD DISABILITY, IT'S AWKWARD.

Craig says IT'S TOUGH TO GET THE RIGHT
WORD, ISN'T IT?

Nam says YEAH.

Craig says I STRUGGLE WITH THAT WRITING THE
BOOK TOO.
IT'S HOW TO BEST FRAME THESE
SORTS OF DISCUSSIONS.
YEAH.

Nam asks WHAT KIND OF DISABILITIES
DID THE CHILDREN HAVE?

Craig says WELL, THEY WERE KIND OF ALL
DIFFERENT.
JAKE WAS IN A WHEELCHAIR, HE HAD
CEREBRAL PALSY, WHICH IS KIND OF
A DISABILITY, OR A CONDITION,
THAT IS USUALLY PRESENT FROM
BIRTH AND IT CAN GET GRADUALLY,
KIND OF, WORSE AS THAT CHILD
DEVELOPS.
AND GAVIN HAD WHAT--ON THE ROUTE
ASSIGNMENT SAID AUTISM--BUT HIS
PARENTS EVENTUALLY TOLD ME, "NO,
HE ACTUALLY HAS SOMETHING CALLED
FRAGILE X."
WHICH IS THE SAME CONDITION THAT
OLIVER HAD, WHICH IS A
CONDITION--KIND OF A SPECIFIC
CONDITION, YOU KNOW, THAT
AFFECTS GROWTH AND, YOU KNOW,
INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT.
AND THEN NADIA AND VINCENT, THE
OTHER TWO STUDENTS HAD WHAT
WOULD JUST BE CALLED "DELAYS."
YOU KNOW, IT WASN'T VERY
SPECIFIC WHAT THEIR CONDITION
WAS
IT WAS JUST THAT THEY WERE
PERHAPS BEHIND THE CURVE
INTELLECTUALLY FROM OTHERS IN
THEIR SAME AGE COHORT.

Nam says AND YOU HAD A--I WANT TO TALK
ABOUT SOME OF YOUR RELATIONSHIPS
WITH ALL THE CHILDREN
INDIVIDUALLY.
BUT YOU HAD A SPECIFIC
RELATIONSHIP WITH JAKE.

Craig says YEAH.

Nam asks CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THAT?

Craig says YEAH, I CAN.
I FEEL LIKE I'M NOT DIVULGING
SECRETS, OR ANYTHING LIKE
THAT
THAT'S ONE OF THE THINGS ABOUT
MEMOIR--I'VE BEEN A FICTION
WRITER SO, IT'S VERY INTERESTING
GOING INTO THIS PROCESS AND
RECOGNIZING THAT YOU'RE DEALING
WITH KIDS AND THEIR FAMILIES AND
TRYING TO BE COMPASSIONATE AND
HONEST.

Nam says YOU CHANGED THE NAMES TOO,
RIGHT?

Craig says I DID, YEAH, ALL THE NAMES WERE
CHANGED--BUT JAKE, BASICALLY
FOUR MONTHS BEFORE I STARTED
DRIVING JAKE AND HIS MOTHER WERE
OUT FOR A WALK, HE WAS IN HIS
WHEELCHAIR AND HIS MOTHER WAS
WALKING WITH HIM.
AND THEY WERE OUT WITH A FAMILY
FRIEND AND THEIR DAUGHTER,
JAKE'S SISTER.
AND A DRUNK DRIVER IN A GIANT
TRUCK CAME DOWN AND STRUCK THEM,
SPECIFICALLY STRUCK JAKE AND HIS
MOTHER.
AND HIS MOTHER PASSED AWAY
PRETTY MUCH INSTANTLY.
AND JAKE WAS KNOCKED OUT OF HIS
WHEELCHAIR AS THE TRUCK JUST
CHARGED ON--AWAY.
AND HE WAS PUT INTO A MEDICALLY
INDUCED COMA FOR TWO WEEKS, AND
HE HAD VAST AND VERY SEVERE
INJURIES.
SO HE CAME OUT OF IT, AND THAT
WAS THE FIRST DAY THAT I PICKED
HIM UP WOULD BE HIS FIRST SCHOOL
DAY

Nam says WOW.

Craig continues FOLLOWING THIS IMMENSE,
PERSONAL TRAGEDY.
AND THAT WAS ONE OF THE MAJOR
THINGS, NAM, THAT I GRAPPLED
WITH, IS THAT IT FEELS LIKE TO
ME THAT SOME PEOPLE--LIKE JUST
LIKE FATE AND LIKE SUFFERING.
BECAUSE IT FEELS LIKE SOME
PEOPLE, SOME FAMILIES, SEEM TO
BE ANOINTED FOR A DEGREE OF
SUFFERING THAT FEELS SO
COMPLETELY OUT OF WHACK AND
UNFAIR
WITH OTHER PEOPLE, YOU KNOW
WHAT I MEAN?
I DON'T THINK IT'S SOMETHING
THAT I'LL EVER COME TO GRIPS
WITH, BUT IT WAS SOMETHING THAT
I STRUGGLED WITH, AND I WAS
FORCED TO KIND OF LOOK AT, AND
SEE HOW JAKE AND HIS FAMILY
DEALT WITH--PERSEVERED THROUGH.
IT'S DIFFICULT THOUGH, AT SOME
LEVEL, TO GRAPPLE WITH THAT
LEVEL OF ENDURANCE AND
PERSEVERANCE AND--YOU KNOW, ONE
OF THE THINGS HE ALWAYS SAID
WAS, "I'M SO HAPPY AND I HAVE NO
IDEA WHY," YOU KNOW.
BUT THERE WERE OTHER DAYS WHERE
LIKE, IT WAS ROUGH, YOU COULD
TELL--HE CAME OUT TO THE BUS,
AND HE WAS JUST SUNK IN A DEEP
KIND OF PIT OF DESPAIR, WHICH IS
COMPLETELY FAIR AND OBVIOUS, AND
HIS FATHER WOULD COME ON AND
THEY ALWAYS HAD THIS THING WHERE
CALVIN WOULD--HIS FATHER
WOULD--PUT HIS HAND AROUND THE
BACK OF HIS SON'S HEAD AND PUSH
THEIR FOREHEADS TOGETHER...

Nam says BE POSITIVE.

Craig says AND YEAH, JUST BE POSITIVE.
AND I THINK NOW AS A FATHER
MYSELF WHAT AN IMMENSE PERSONAL
STRENGTH THAT ENTIRE FAMILY
NEEDED, CALVIN HAVING LOST HIS
WIFE AND JOSH AND MOLLY HAVING
LOST THEIR, YOU KNOW, LOST THEIR
MOTHER.
BUT YET THEY--EVERY DAY THEY
WERE THERE AND EVERY DAY THEY
WERE SHOWING, LIKE, RESILIENCY
THAT I FOUND ABSOLUTELY
AMAZING.

Nam asks AND WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER
KIDS?
YOU INCLUDE THEM TOO IN AN
INTERSTITIAL, I GUESS, THAT YOU
WOULD CALL "THE SEEKERS."

Craig says RIGHT, YEAH.
KIND OF A BOOK WITHIN A BOOK.

Nam says WITHIN A BOOK, YEAH.

Craig says WHAT AMAZED ME ON THE BUS IS
THAT THEY WERE ALL STORYTELLERS.
YOU KNOW, THEY WERE
ABSOLUTELY--THEY LOVED TO TELL
STORIES.
AND THE STORIES WERE
ILLUMINATING AS TO WHO THEY
WERE.
I THINK FROM AN ADULT LOOKING AT
THESE KIDS YOU RECOGNIZED THAT
THEIR STORIES WERE INTERESTING
IN THEIR OWN RIGHT BUT THEY WERE
ALSO REVELATORY OF WHO THEY WERE
AND THEIR HOPES AND THEIR
AMBITIONS AND THEIR DREAMS.
AND SO, YOU KNOW, NADIA WOULD
TELL STORIES ABOUT, YOU KNOW,
PRINCESSES AND, YOU KNOW, KIND
OF, YOU KNOW, HEROINES.
AND VINCENT WOULD TELL STORIES
ABOUT, YOU KNOW, BASICALLY ABOUT
LIKE CYBERNETIC CREATURES.
AND HE WAS LIKE A SUPER
TECHNOLOGICALLY, KIND OF,
FASCINATED BOY.
AND OLIVER WOULD TELL LIES,
BASICALLY, AS I SAY.
JOEY.
JUST DIDN'T--RIGHT, HE HAD THIS
FRIEND, JOEY, WHO WAS LIKE THE
UBER BUTT-KICKER.

Nam says YEAH.

Craig says YOU KNOW, HE WAS LIKE THE
TOUGHEST GUY YOU'D EVER WANT TO
MEET.
NO ONE'D EVER SEEN JOEY, WE KNEW
AT SOME POINT THAT JOEY DIDN'T
EXIST, BUT JOEY WAS A
MANIFESTATION OF WHO OLIVER
WANTED TO BE, OR WANTED TO--THIS
PROTECTOR

Nam says YEAH.

Craig continues THIS PROTECTOR...

Nam says AND JOEY

Craig continues BECAUSE THE KIDS WERE PICKED
ON QUITE A BIT...

Nam says YEAH.

Craig says YOU KNOW, OR FROM
TIME-TO-TIME--SORRY, YOU WERE
GOING TO SAY, "AND JOEY--"?

Nam says NO, NO, I WAS JUST SAYING THAT
JOEY HAD BICEPS CALLED "THUNDER."
AND "GUS."

Craig says WELL, I SWEAR NAM, I DIDN'T
LAUGH SO HARD--THAT YEAR, THE
BELLY LAUGHTER WAS SUCH
THAT--AND THESE KIDS WERE JUST
FUNNY.
LIKE THEY WERE JUST HILARIOUSLY
FUNNY, AND THEY KNEW THEY WERE
FUNNY, AND THEY GOT EACH OTHER
ROLLING IN THE AISLES, AND THEY
GOT ME ROLLING IN THE AISLES TO
THE POINT THAT SOMETIMES I
REALLY DID HAVE TO PULL THE BUS
OVER BECAUSE I WAS FEARED FOR
YOU KNOW, MAKING SURE WE KEPT
ON THE STRAIGHT AND NARROW DOWN
THE ROAD--YEAH.

Nam says WELL YOU BROUGHT UP--TALKING
ABOUT BULLYING.
DO YOU THINK THAT BECAUSE THE
KIDS WERE ON A DIFFERENT BUS
THAT MADE THEM TARGETS?
WHY DID THEY NEED TO TAKE A
DIFFERENT BUS?

Craig says WELL, THAT WAS SOMETHING I
STRUGGLED WITH WONDERING MYSELF,
BECAUSE IT IS--IT'S KIND OF LIKE
THE SCARLET LETTER.
THE SHORT BUS AS SOME PEOPLE
WOULD CALL IT.
IT'S CALLED A BUSETTE IN ACTUAL,
YOU KNOW, BUS DRIVER
TERMINOLOGY.
AND I THOUGHT, YOU KNOW, FOR
EXAMPLE, WHY COULDN'T--I MEAN,
JAKE WAS IN NORMAL GRADE 12
CLASSES WITH HIS PEERS
BUT HE HAD TO RIDE THIS BUS
SIMPLY BECAUSE IT HAD THE
WHEELCHAIR RAMP AND--SO WHY
COULDN'T ALL THE KIDS JUST BE
FILTERED OUT INTO SEPARATE
ROUTES AND JUST RIDE A BIG BUS,
FOR EXAMPLE?
AND THEY COULD HAVE, BUT WHAT I
CAME TO REALIZE THROUGHOUT THE
BOOK, IS THAT THE KIDS ON MY BUS
ANYWAYS WERE OK BEING ON THAT
BUS, AND BEING IN THE CLASSES
THAT THEY WERE IN.
IT'S NOT THAT THEY DIDN'T RAIL
AGAINST IT SOMETIMES, IT'S NOT
THAT THEY WEREN'T HYPER AWARE OF
SOMETIMES THIS DIFFERENCE OF
THEY GOT OFF THE LITTLE BUS AND
THEY WENT TO THEIR OWN CLASS,
WHEREAS EVERYBODY ELSE GOT OFF
THE BIG BUSES AND WENT
TO--DISPERSED THROUGH THE REST
OF THE SCHOOL TO THE OTHER
CLASSES.
BUT DESPITE THAT, AT OTHER TIMES
THEY WERE COMPLETELY CONTENT,
HAPPY, AND I THINK MOST
IMPORTANTLY AWARE OF THE
SITUATION THAT EXISTED, YOU
KNOW, AND THEY WERE MUCH BETTER
DEALING WITH IT THAN I WAS
DEALING WITH IT.

Nam says YEAH, HOW DID YOU HANDLE THE
BULLYING?

Craig says NOT WELL.
NOT WELL.
ESPECIALLY AT FIRST.
I GOT INTO SOME PHYSICAL
CONFRONTATIONS
WITH PEOPLE OVER IT.
AND WHAT I ULTIMATELY HAD TO
ACCEPT IS THAT THESE KIDS DIDN'T
LIKE THAT.
LIKE, I THINK AS I WRITE IN THE
BOOK, ME DOING THOSE SORTS OF
THINGS WAS FORCING THEM TO
LISTEN TO A FREQUENCY THAT THEY
HAD LEARNED HOW TO TUNE OUT.
AND IT WAS THE FREQUENCY OF,
LIKE, PEER IGNORANCE
OF PEOPLE BEING IGNORAMUSES,
AND BEING CRUEL, YOU KNOW, AND I
THINK JAKE SAID IT AT ONE POINT,
HE SAID, YOU KNOW, "LIFE'S
TOUGH, BUT IT'S TOUGHER IF
YOU'RE STUPID."
AND HE WAS SAYING THAT TO REFER
TO ALL THE PEOPLE WHO WOULD BE,
YOU KNOW, DISMISSIVELY CRUEL
OR JUST IGNORANT ABOUT THE
LIVES THAT THOSE KIDS WERE
LIVING.
SO I HAD TO LEARN JUST TO
LIKE--I COULD NEVER ACCEPT IT.
AND TO THIS DAY I CAN'T ACCEPT
IT, AND TO THIS DAY MY BACK GETS
UP ABOUT CERTAIN THINGS.
BUT I DIDN'T ACTUALLY REACT IN
SUCH A WAY THAT WOULD DRAW
ATTENTION TO IT.

Nam says I WANTED TO READ YOU A
PASSAGE FROM THE BOOK THAT
RELATES TO THIS.

A quote appears on screen under the title "Precious Cargo." It reads "There would always be pointers and laughers. When we see this in children, it's understandable. But that year of bus driving taught me that far too many of us reach adulthood still thinking there's something inherently hilarious about disabilities" - Craig Davidson, 'Precious Cargo', (2016)

Nam asks HOW COMMON IS IT TO MOCK
PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES IN THIS
DAY AND AGE?

Craig says WELL, I THINK LESS AND LESS...
THANK HEAVENS, YOU KNOW,
I THINK AS A SOCIETY WE'RE
JUST BECOMING MORE ENLIGHTENED
ABOUT ALL SORTS OF THINGS.
BUT IT'S WEIRD BECAUSE, FOR
EXAMPLE, LIKE, PEOPLE WOULDN'T
MAKE A RACIAL SLUR.
LIKE, I MEAN, PEOPLE DO,
OBVIOUSLY--BUT I THINK THAT IS
KNOWN AS TO BE VERBOTEN, AND IF
YOU DO DO THAT--IF YOU DO IT IN
THE EARSHOT OF SOMEONE WHO YOU
ARE SLURRING.
THEY WILL COME OVER AND UPBRAID
YOU OVER IT, OR IT COULD GET
PHYSICAL.
WHEREAS, IF YOU SAY SOMETHING
CRUEL IN THE PROXIMITY OF
SOMEONE WITH A DISABILITY, MAYBE
YOU THINK THAT NOTHING'S GONNA
COME OF IT BECAUSE THAT PERSON
IS NOT GONNA BE ABLE TO STICK UP
FOR THEMSELVES OR SPEAK FOR
THEMSELVES, OR NOT EVEN BE AWARE
IN SOME CASES THAT THEY'VE BEEN
SLIGHTED.
BUT I DO THINK OBVIOUSLY WE ARE
MAKING GREAT STRIDES BUT I DO
THINK THERE'S MUCH--BECAUSE I
WAS TALKING TO SOMEBODY WHO IS
AN ADVOCATE FOR DISABLED, YOU
KNOW, PEOPLE AND THEIR FAMILIES,
AND SHE SAID THAT, YOU KNOW,
WHEN A DISABLED PERSON IS
PICTURED IN SAY A COMMERCIAL
THE COMPANY THAT'S DOING THAT
MAKES A BIG DEAL ABOUT IT.
AND, YOU KNOW, SHE SAID, "WHY
SHOULD IT?"
"THAT'S JUST A NORMAL FAMILY
UNIT, WHY SHOULD THAT BE DRAWN
ATTENTION TO AS THOUGH THEY'RE
DOING SOMETHING VERY LIKE SOCIAL
FORWARD
AND NOBLE."
IT'S A LOVELY THING BUT AT THE
SAME POINT WE SHOULD JUST SEE
THAT AS THAT'S JUST A NORMAL
FAMILY DOING A NORMAL THING.

Nam says RIGHT, RIGHT.
AND EVEN LIKE THE "R-WORD," YOU
TALK ABOUT IT A LITTLE BIT

Craig says: YEAH.

Nam continues AND YOU KNOW, THE BLACK EYED
PEAS HAD A SONG THAT WAS LIKE

Craig says YEAH.

Nam says --"LET'S GET--."

Craig says EXACTLY.
"LET'S GET IT STARTED."..

Nam says YEAH.

Craig says AS IT BECAME, BUT YEAH.

Nam asks HOW DID YOUR EXPERIENCE
WITH THESE KIDS TEACH YOU ABOUT
THAT WORD.

Craig says WELL, THAT IT HASN'T GONE AWAY.
AND THAT--YOU KNOW, I WAS OUT
PLAYING BASKETBALL, PICK-UP BALL
WITH GUYS MY AGE, 40 YEARS OLD,
SMART GUYS, LIKE FAMILY MEN, AND
ONE OF THEM JUST POPPED OFF WITH
THAT WORD, AND YOU KNOW, YOU
JUST THINK YOU WOULD NEVER USE
THE N-WORD, YOU WOULD NEVER USE
ANY OTHER WORD.
BUT YET THERE'S STILL A GREY
GAUZEY AREA WHERE YOU THINK YOU
CAN USE THE R-WORD, YOU KNOW, IN
CERTAIN SOCIAL SITUATIONS
AND, YOU KNOW, I CALL THEM OUT
ON IT, LIKE, THAT'S JUST NOT
COOL, THERE'S NO NEED TO USE
THAT WORD, IT HAS NO
APPLICABILITY HERE, SO

Nam says AND IT HURTS.

Craig says IT'S HURTFUL.

Nam says YEAH.

Craig says IT'S DEEPLY HURTFUL.
SO, YEAH, IT'S A DIFFICULT THING
TO NAVIGATE, AND YEAH, YOU WISH
IT WOULDN'T BE THAT WAY, BUT
IT--WELL, OBVIOUSLY, IT'S
STILL--THERE'S ALL SORTS OF
STUFF THAT'S STILL IN OUR
SOCIETY, WE HAVEN'T KIND OF
EVOLVED, BUT I THINK WE ARE
GETTING BETTER.

Nam asks ARE YOU STILL IN TOUCH WITH
THE KIDS?

Craig says I'M IN TOUCH WITH JAKE
ESPECIALLY.
THE OTHER KIDS--WELL, IT'S
FUNNY, I THOUGHT ABOUT IT, YOU
KNOW, WHAT IF I'D GONE UP AND
KNOCKED ON OLIVER'S DOOR IN THE
SUMMER AND BEEN LIKE, "HEY,
WANNA GO OUT FOR A GAME OF
CATCH?"
AND HIS MOM IN THE BACK GOING
LIKE, "YOU'RE THE BUS DRIVER,"
THAT'S WEIRD ACTUALLY, YOU KNOW.
SO IT WAS LIKE THE BUS THAT DREW
US ALL TOGETHER AND MADE IT
ACTUALLY FUNDAMENTALLY
ACCEPTABLE
THAT A 32-YEAR-OLD WOULD BE
HANGING OUT WITH, YOU KNOW, 14-,
15-, 16-YEAR-OLDS.
AND SO, I LOOK AT IT MORE
LIKE--YOU'VE PROBABLY HAD
EXPERIENCES LIKE THIS, LIKE ME
IT'S TREE PLANTING OR SUMMER
CAMP, OR CERTAIN SUMMER JOBS,
IT'S LIKE--IT'S AN INTENSE
EXPERIENCE WHERE YOU ARE DRAWN
TOGETHER WITH A DISPARATE GROUP
OF PEOPLE AND YOU FORM REALLY
CLOSE BONDS AND HAVE LIKE REALLY
INTENSE EXPERIENCES, AND
THEN--BUT THERE'S ALWAYS A
DEADLINE ON IT, IT'S THE END OF
SUMMER, IT'S THE END OF CAMP,
IT'S THE END OF THE WORK TERM.
AND THEN YOU GUYS JUST FLING OFF
ON YOUR SEPARATE ORBITS, BUT I
MEAN, IT DOESN'T MEAN THAT THE
INTENSITY OF THE EXPERIENCE IS
LESSENED IN ANY WAY, OR THAT THE
MEMORIES ARE ANY LESS VIVID.
BUT JAKE, YEAH, THE LAST TIME I
WAS IN CALGARY WE WENT OUT FOR
DINNER AND SHOT THE BREEZE WITH
EACH OTHER.
AND IT'S WONDERFUL, IT'S ONE OF
THOSE THINGS THAT AS I SAY, WHEN
YOU'RE A GOOD FRIEND YOU CAN BE
APART FOR A WHILE AND IT DOESN'T
MATTER, YOU SIT DOWN AND ALL
THOSE YEARS KIND OF EVAPORATE...

Nam says IT'S LIKE YOU TALKED YESTERDAY.

Craig says BACK WHERE YOU WERE.

Nam saysAT THE BEGINNING OF THE MEMOIR
YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT THE
DIFFICULT TIME YOU WERE GOING
IN, AND I'M GUESSING YOUR
DEFINITION OF SUCCESS WAS VERY
DIFFERENT AFTER YOU SPENT THIS
YEAR WITH THE KIDS.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS
NOW?

Craig says YEAH, THE TERMS HAVE DEFINITELY
BEEN ALTERED.
YOU KNOW, I THINK, IT'S A
DIFFICULT QUESTION BECAUSE IT'S
SO COMPLEX, BUT I THINK
ULTIMATELY IT'S ACCEPTANCE, YOU
KNOW, IT'S ACCEPTANCE--THAT YEAR
TAUGHT ME ACCEPTANCE OF MY OWN
LIMITATIONS, OF WHAT I CAN
EXPECT OF MYSELF REALLY.
AND ALSO THAT LIKE YOU DON'T
HAVE TO REALIZE YOUR DREAMS IN
KIND OF THIS 100 percent PERFECT KIND
OF EXPRESSION OF WHAT YOU
THOUGHT THEY WERE GONNA BE WHEN
YOU WERE IN YOUR 20S.
LIKE, YOU CAN'T HOLD YOURSELF
ACCOUNTABLE FOR THOSE DREAMS
YOU KNOW.
AND IF YOU DO YOU'RE GONNA LOSE
OUT ON SO MANY OTHER WONDERFUL
OPPORTUNITIES IN YOUR LIFE
BECAUSE YOU DON'T THINK YOU'RE
READY TO, YOU KNOW, SORT OF
EMBRACE THEM.
SO I WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN A
HUSBAND, I WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN A
FATHER, WHICH GIVE ME--TO BE
HONEST--MUCH MORE JOY THAN
WRITING DOES.
AS MUCH AS I LOVE WRITING, AND I
SEE MYSELF AS A WRITER, AND I
GUESS I CONTEXTUALIZE MYSELF
CAREER-WISE AS A WRITER, IT
DOESN'T GIVE ME JOY.
JOY COMES FROM THE PLACES THAT
IT ALWAYS WAS, YOU KNOW, THE
FRIENDSHIPS, AND LOVE OF THE
PEOPLE THAT YOU CARE FOR AND
THAT CARE FOR YOU.
AND WRITING, OR WHATEVER YOUR
CAREER PATH IS, IS A VERY MINOR
PART OF THAT.
IT'S IMPORTANT, AND I WOULD
NEVER DISCOUNT IT, BUT YEAH, I
THINK, I MEAN BASICALLY TO BE
HONEST NAM, IT TURNED ME INTO AN
ADULT.
YOU KNOW, I HAD A VERY
LATE-BREAKING CHARGE TOWARDS
ADULTHOOD AND DRIVING THIS BUS
WAS THE DRIVING KIND OF
INFLUENCE OF IT.

Nam says AND THERE'S A GREAT LINE IN
THE BOOK ABOUT THE TITLE OF THE
BOOK
WHY CALL IT
PRECIOUS CARGO?

Craig says RIGHT, WELL THAT IS ACTUALLY
THE--IN BUS DRIVER'S VERNACULAR
THAT'S THE LEGAL TERM FOR WHAT
WE ARE DRIVING.
AS MY INSTRUCTOR SAID, "WE'RE
NOT DRIVING POTATOES HERE
PEOPLE, WE ARE DRIVING PRECIOUS
CARGO."

The caption changes to "Producer: Colin Ellis, @ColinEllis81."

Nam says CRAIG DAVIDSON, THANK YOU
SO MUCH FOR BEING HERE.

Craig says THANK YOU VERY MUCH NAM.

Nam says IT WAS A PLEASURE.

Craig says THANK YOU.

Watch: Precious Cargo