Sunday, August 31, 2008

Violence in schools

Two full weeks have passed since we began school and Labor Day weekend couldn’t have come at a better time. It seems that this school year has already started out with a bang. Parents are more irritable and demanding, the children seem to be more off the wall than ever, and bus drivers are at a loss as to how to strike a middle ground.

Now, there will always be parents who are condescending, argumentative, and generally a pain in the ass. Their offspring are the same way. Rainy days are, by far, the worst out of all the days combined, but even on sunny days we run into some idiot people. Or rather idiot people run into us… HOW they don’t see a yellow school bus that is 4 times their size is BEYOND me! I wish there was a license to breed, it would simplify things greatly!

Kids are being taught that fighting and arguing is the only way to solve a problem. Granted, a lot of what is being taught can be contributed to the culture and ethnicity that these kids are being raised with, but when kids are raised to be inherently violent and are taught that violence is the only way to solve a conflict then there is definitely a problem.

Case in point - My friend’s daughter is in second grade. My friend got a call this week that her daughter had been in a physical altercation with another child at school on the playground. A child came up and was mocking my friend’s daughter. My friend’s daughter told her to knock it off, and a second child got involved and told my friend’s daughter that she had “picked a fight with the wrong girl” because the girl she told to knock it off was the second girl’s cousin. My friend’s daughter has been taught not to fight, but my friend’s daughter lost her temper and threw a pair of lightweight gloves at the second child. The second child then jumped on my friend’s daughter, proceeded to pull her hair, yank her arm backwards, shove sand in her face, and pull her hair again. This is when my friend’s daughter decided she had had enough and pulled at the girl’s hair and RIIIPPP out came the second girl’s weave. (For those that don’t know, a Weave is a hair extension that is either sewn into the natural hair, or bobby pinned or elastic’ed into the natural hair. These weaves are more popular in the African American Culture) It couldn’t be reattached, and admittedly the second girl claimed she jumped on my friend’s daughter for “No Reason.” My friend’s daughter had a lot of questions, mainly about the weave, as to why this other girl was taught that fighting solved conflicts. My friend didn’t have any good explanation other than that’s what she was taught. It only left my friend’s daughter more confused than ever as to the proper way to handle a situation.

Even on the bus, we experience arguments that we cannot control. Children will bring neighborhood situations and feuds onto the bus. Things get out of hand, police get called and our CHILDREN are getting arrested. What is WRONG with this picture?

In other news, I now have a downstairs neighbor who, so far, has been far more annoying than the last, but I shall blog about this another day. Lets just say, I had to call the police for a domestic disturbance. Never a dull moment!

Getting Punchy,
The Bus Driver

Friday, August 22, 2008

Row, Row, Row the Bus...

Gently down the flooded street, through the torrential rain. If you are a bus driver, and live in Florida, Georgia or Alabama, congratulations, this is what you will be experiencing due to Tropical Storm Fay. Downpours, flooding, high wind, and aggravated parents, it never ends!

Why oh why, do parents let their children take showers and baths, but then freak out if a little rain gets on them. Rain, to parents, has become poisonous. We have parents who will drive to the END of their driveways, all 30 feet between the house and the curb, to make sure their child doesn’t get wet. Not only this, they actually get out of their cars, get THEMSELVES wet, and proceed to escort their kid to the bus under an umbrella sheltering their child. What happened to old school where our parents sent us out with raincoats and umbrellas (if we were lucky), to wait at our DESIGNATED bus stops for the bus? The bus also NEVER made provisions for parents who wanted their “special flower” to be dropped off at their driveway end, or in some cases, doorsteps. If it rained during the day and you didn’t come prepared to school, you got to get off at your regular bus stop and walk home ANYWAYS.

It seems the rain makes people stupid. Its like they see rain and say, oh gee I’m going to be stupid today. Stopping suddenly, cutting in front of other vehicles, and driving in a bus’ blind spot are common occurrences that happen more frequently when it rains. Gah!

Soaked to the Bone,

The Bus Driver

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dear Parents.....

Dear Parents,

Please, for the love of God and all that is holy, teach your child their address and a phone number that is always going to be able to be reached. If you happen to be one of the lucky people who always change address or phone number like someone changes a pair of pants, please update the schools AND your child as to how he/she/they can reach you in the event your child gets lost, hurt, or any other myriad of reasons. We have kids here who are in the FIFTH grade and don’t know their home address or their parents’ phone numbers.

Additionally, PLEASE teach your child their grade and school that they attend. Don’t just put them on the bus and expect us to figure out where YOUR child should get off. Please help us out by just giving us your child’s name, your phone number and address, the child’s school, and grade. Just those four bits of information can mean the world to us in getting your child safely to school and back home again. There’s a reason we send home student information slips, and they aren’t just to decorate your garbage can or line the bottom of your purse. Please fill these out as soon as possible; it would make our lives easier than having to track you down through non-working phone numbers and having your child crying hysterically on our buses when they have no clue what’s going on or how to tell us to get “home”.

Getting a Busy Signal,
The Bus Driver

Monday, August 18, 2008

The year starts....

A week ago, this Monday, was the annual school bus safety meeting that we all have to go to each year. It’s where they tell us to not die plzkthx. Anyhow, the day was fairly uneventful overall despite my expectation of drama to erupt. We started at 9 am, which was surprising for those of us remember last year’s fiasco. Last year during our meeting day, they had folks from a local bank come in and give a speech about their promotions. The speech lasted about 2 hours and ended up including some “crowd rousing” cheering and other gimmicks that got annoying after the first 10 minutes of the presentation. All in all it was a complete waste of time and only succeeded in making us all really pissed off.

This year’s meeting actually started on time and lasted till lunchtime. Most of the meeting was focused on the guest speaker. He did his part in 2 hours time. The remaining hour of the morning, from 9-12, was dedicated to policy changes, memos and other FYI sort of items. Yay – only not.

Anyhow, the first two days went well. They were a little hectic and outside of a few crying children, there were no major problems to speak of. Saturday had me going on an all day field trip to a Softball tournament. That was pretty mild, though it made for a long day leaving town at 7:30 am and getting back around 9:30 pm. All in all pretty good.

This morning, however, was when the real trouble started. I picked up a key to a bus from the shop, drove the school system van to the next town over (about 10 minutes drive) and went to the bus on the school lot. Opened the door fine, unlocked the back door fine, put the key into the ignition and tried to turn it – NOT fine. Jiggle the key a little bit, try to turn the key – nope not that. Run back to the back of the bus and double check the back door slide lock, return and try to turn the key again – nope not that. At this point, I was supposed to have left the schoolyard by that time – 6:10 am. Frantic call to the actual bus driver of the bus I was subbing on – her son was due to have surgery this morning. She came over to the yard and tried the things I did, in the order I did. We decided the key was defective and she gave me her key. Whee – 5 minutes late. I hightailed it out of the yard and miraculously made it to the first stop exactly 2 minutes late. I made up the rest of the time on the route and actually had time to wait about 10 minutes at the school. I guess that was my hitch for today!

Having a great School year so far!!
The Bus Driver

Friday, August 8, 2008

Gearing up for a new year.

Well school starts August 14 and none of us are looking forward to returing to the grindstone. Mostly due to some drama stuff that happened over last year will probably be re-hashed over the beginning of this year. UGH!. Other than that nothing new to report though I'm sure within a week, I'll have some interesting stories of frustration and fun to start off the year!