I was recently called in for a last minute field trip and while I was sitting quietly waiting for the baseball team to complete their game, I took the time to reflect. A lot has happened over the last few years. My life has been sort of like a patchwork quilt. I moved down to where I am now for a job in 2004, the job did not work out, and two years later in 2006, I found the job that I enjoy the most.
Driving a school bus comes with its up's and down's and usually has bumps along the road that can only be described as lessons. Some of them good, some of them not so good, but most of the time lessons learned well. Being a bus driver doesn't pay glamorously of course, so I needed to secure a second job. That's where transit came into play. I was still driving a bus, just my clientele was different. I had people like Negative Ned, Milk Lady, Mrs. Elderly, and most memorable was Hat Lady. I'm sorry to report that Hat Lady has passed away. She was such an influence on my life in that she never wavered in her faith. Rest in peace, Ms. Emma.
So, I'm sitting and reflecting on this rainy day and I recall an interaction that I had with a particularly troublesome student. Bon-Bon Girl is a very challenging girl. This incident happened sometime last year and has stuck in my mind as one of the times that I've been influential as a bus driver. Bon-Bon Girl had a bad habit of disobeying substitutes and refusing to sit in her assigned seat and one hot afternoon, we got into it. She and I had a shouting match, a standoff, and ultimately a stare down in which I won, she lost. She spent the majority of the trip quipping things under her breath and basically digging herself a deeper hole. I had fully intended on writing her up for her awful behavior until she did something that surprised me. Before she got off the bus that afternoon, she stopped, and turned to me and said, "I'm sorry Ms. Bus Driver, I had a bad day at school and I should not have taken it on the bus."
I accepted her apology and drove home that afternoon with her still on my mind. I wrestled with the proper course of action. I did have the video tape pulled in case I decided to proceed and write her up, but then I weighed what would I want someone to do if I had behaved similarly. Ultimately I chose NOT to write her up, though I would have been justified in doing so. A day and a half later, I was riding that same bus with the regular driver, and apparently the incident had been on Bon-Bon Girl's mind because she came up to me and asked me directly if I had written her up for the behavior.
I told her that I know she can behave better on the bus, and that due to her apology, I chose not to write her up. That seemed to have a very DEEP impact on her because further down the line, when I drove that bus again as a substitute, she did not give me any trouble. In fact, she became one of the ones that I can depend on to tell me changes in the bus route. Sometimes the smallest display of kindness can mean a lot to a troubled child. Sometimes children need understanding rather than being written up.
The Bus Driver