The Semiotics of School Busses


In America the busses that take children to school are painted bright yellow. Of course they are. Pointing this out is hardly the stuff of Heraclitus. But who was the first man or woman to paint the damned school bus and why yellow? Why does this preoccupy me? The latter question is the easiest: I’ve been blind for for most of my life, and now that I can see a little I’m largely flabbergasted by the commonplace. This morning, out walking, spying children clamoring aboard their bus I shuddered at the dreadful color of the thing.

The American school bus is the color of grief. It is the tint of failure. The shade of compromise and of committees.  

One can say it’s the safest color. Americans would of course say this. But I guarantee that a bus can stand out with purple and scarlet roses–one need not read of Ken Kesey’s adventures to know this.

What I’m suggesting is that this yellow is the color of failure, of peaceable despond, of fitful illuminations without hope.

Do you find this color anywhere else?

I rest my case.