Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Is it Christmas Break yet?

Three more days left and my kids are pushing me to the limit on the bus. I’m sick and tired of the incessant questions. The answer to most of these questions is a typical flat “No” followed by “Be quiet and sit properly in the seats.” I understand that many of them are anxious for Christmas, heck, I am too but when idiots come out in droves during the holidays, driving becomes a chore and not a pleasure. Combine that with my high school kids acting like thugs and my middleschoolers driving me up a wall and you've got one exasperated bus driver.

I cannot have a back and forth conversation with 15+ children at once because of the idiot who cuts me off, the idiot that tailgates me and the idiots I work with who relentlessly tie up the CB Radio with useless banter, and stupid questions like “Bus Base to Bus D - Do you have Little Johnny on the bus? Bus F to Bus Base - What do I do with Little Amy who cussed me out? We’re still looking for Little Johnny. How do you spell that child’s name? A M Y…. What were the last 2 letters of her name? A M Y….. What I didn’t hear that, you were walked all over by … Little Johnny’s mom says the bus has/hasn’t gone by and Little Johnny has to get home as quickly as possible even though your only 1 road/1 stop/arriving at/or Johnny didn’t get on the bus to go HOME!!! Everybody check to see if Little Johnny got on your bus. School A to Bus Base and Bus D we found Little Johnny.”

If that sounded confusing, that’s what happens DAILY on the bus CB Radio. It’s incessant and annoying and continually blaring in my ear. Some days and weeks are better than others, but there is a time at least once a month where everyone seems to take their stupid pills all at once. I don’t dare mute it or turn it off because its likely the Bus Base will need to get a hold of me the second I do! The “clicks” are from inconsiderate bus drivers who click the radio while people are talking about important things because they have nothing better to do.

In other news, while I was out, I began to get reports of what happened while I was gone. A fellow bus driver’s 8-year-old son had one of my high school boys use a belt on him. Another bus driver ran into a telephone pole, and then claimed she couldn’t see it. To make matters worse, she didn’t report it to the proper authorities, and the only way the bus shop knew about it was because a parent told ME when I came back what had happened. I had noticed the stop sign leaning/crushed into the pole and had wondered what happened. That same bus driver cannot seem to follow directions and cannot handle a bus at all. Just today she reportedly let a busload of kids off along a busy highway/street with no regards to safety. Those kids were seen walking along the side of the road and were called in by a concerned motorist. She’s going to get a child killed if my boss doesn’t grow a pair and fire her for her irresponsible behavior.

I have kids on the bus this year who are expecting me to do something nice for Christmas (bags of candy and such) but my bus has had some very poor behavior that none of the kids deserve ANYTHING. Every time I’ve tried to implement some form of reward, they take advantage of it and it usually lands me more frustrated than when I started. So many kids on my bus have come to expect that the bus driver will be nice and hand out candy canes or something. The truth is, if the kids ask every day, then continually break the rules, cause a problem or otherwise get on my nerves, I’m sure as heck NOT going to spend MY paycheck on stuff for them. Sorry, not happening! I know I sound like a humbug, but I’m fed up with it!

I made a huge decision this week after much deliberation. I took this route on the condition that it would be a pay increase for me. We currently get a base salary and then have mileage added onto that at 15 cents a mile. As a floater (someone who bounces from bus to bus as a full time, full benefit substitute), I would get 52 miles a day in addition to my base pay. I was told that this bus was 81 miles a day, a definite increase. When I inherited the bus, the original driver left me with nothing. No names of the kids, no addresses, no emergency contacts for the kids, absolutely NOTHING. It took me nearly a month to acquire all this information from the kids, begging and pleading on my knees for them to bring back the student information sheets, tedious hours putting it all in a spreadsheet for easy organization, the works! It occurred to me that the mileage might be inaccurate, so I re-did the mileage and came out with 52 miles.

This mileage began AT the bus shop, and ended AT the bus shop, with no “in-between” runs. In-between runs such as Middays, Field trips, and other runs were not counted. We are technically supposed to do mileage from our first stop in the morning to our last drop off in the morning, then from our first pick up in the afternoon to our last stop in the afternoon. If I had done it that way, then the mileage would be even less, because during the morning and afternoon run, I have approximately 8 miles that are “empty bus” miles. 2 miles to my first stop in the morning, 2 miles back to the bus shop in the morning, 2 miles to my first pick up in the afternoon, 2 miles back to the bus shop at the end of the day after my last stop. In actuality, the bus should only be approximately 44 miles, and I should be LOSING money from mileage. Because of this actuality, and that we have a new computerized mileage system (so drivers can’t lie and pad their paychecks with false miles) I have decided to give up the route and become a “floater” again.

I discussed this with my boss today and he is fully supportive, however I do feel bad for the kids. They don’t deserve to be bounced either. At this point, I have got to do what is best for me. This job is my only source of income at this point, and I’ve got to look out for myself.

Conflicted and Exhausted,

The Bus Driver


ChiTown Girl said...

Aw, I'm sorry the new route didn't work out. But, at least you don't have to deal with the same knuckleheads day in and day out. You'll be getting fresh knuckleheads everyday! haha! Only two days to go til Christmas break!! :)

The Bus Driver said...

Thanks Chitown Girl. Your supportive words are wonderful to hear. Unfortunately for the kids, I was looking forward to seeing the same faces every day, but because of my money situation, I simply can't take a chance of losing any money. I'd rather be a floater and bounce around. Stay posted for an updated blog about today and my game plan for the rest of the week.