Six major holidays coincide with the typical school year. Four of these are “candy” based holidays: Halloween, Christmas, Valentines Day, and Easter. Candy is something I absolutely HATE as a bus driver. Wrappers are constantly found on the floor. Unidentifiable sticky stuff ends up on the seats and seat backs. Mushy goo is typically wedged between the seat and the bus wall. Fluid spills from soda or other sticky drinks run along the floor, then dry, and manage to collect various amounts of nasty sand, gravel, dirt, and the occasional dropped M&M or Skittle. Gum is found pressed firmly within the grooves of the aisle providing sticky goodness to shoes everywhere. Garbage cans are a foreign concept to many children.
Halloween comes in late October, but early in the school year. Along with it comes a plethora of chewy gumdrops, chocolates, lollipops, and other Halloween based items. I find myself picking up Halloween based wrappers right up until January, when the candy supply runs out. Often kids will bring candy in their backpacks to trade or sell on the playground, or simply just to eat as a snack. Sugar City!
Christmas brings assorted jellybeans and peppermint candy canes to the mix. Add in a chocolate Santa and you’ve got a recipe for children bouncing off the walls. Usually these get lumped in with the same candy that’s left over from Halloween, or for the particularly voracious child is thankfully gone by New Years Day.
We experience a bit of a lull in the candy wrappers save a few of the cough drop ones, as it is now cold and flu season. Then Valentines Day hits. Ahh, the day of love and cherishment. A day for a child to express feelings as a secret admirer and to exchange “Be My Valentine” cards with EVERY OTHER child in their class. This, by far, is my favorite of the “candy” holidays as a bus driver. Why? You ask? Because, my dear readers, the children put NAMES on the cards, and I can write them up for eating and drinking on the bus. I know, its grinch-like, but when you’ve been sweeping up wrappers all year, you finally have your culprits in hand and name. All thanks to little Suzie who wrote To: Johnny, From: Suzie on the M&M’s wrapper.
By the time Easter rolls around, I’ve given up on the candy hunting and just resigned myself to sweeping up and praying no child chokes from the piece of hard candy they have in their mouths. Its especially hard as it is increasingly difficult to wade through the masses of backpacks, bodies and other items to get to the child that is choking let alone that child chokes WHILE I drive.
My final pet peeve comes in two forms. One is when a teacher insists on giving out candy as a reward to kids, just before they get on the bus. I will invariably find the wrapper and possibly the sticky residue of the treat the teacher so lovingly gave out. Please stick to pencils, erasers, and stickers!!! The second one is class parties that are given within the last 30 minutes of a school day. The kids are so hyped up by the time they get on my bus to go home, they are bouncing off the walls and are completely out of control. They are loud and obnoxious and the next thing I hear is crying as little Michael decided to pull an Evil Kenevil stunt and landed on his head as he vaulted over the bus seat in a feat of bravery. The crying is eventually drowned out by scads of children loudly screaming as little Jacob decided to projectile vomit ALL of his lunch AND his party foods that he consumed. Believe me folks when I say, projectile vomit of school lunch food and classroom party food is NOT something you really want to see. I just thank God that school buses are covered in rubber and vinyl.
The Bus Driver