Friday, October 31, 2008


Warning… HUGE RANT ahead. Read if you dare.

My middle schoolers and I are about to have a “Come to Jesus” meeting come Monday or Tuesday, whenever I get my voice back. I’m sick of them acting like jackasses that have never rode the bus before. I keep a pretty orderly bus, but invariably I’m always shouting at them to shut up. I thought that since today was Halloween, that I’d give them the benefit of the doubt and turn up the radio and have a rockin’ party on the bus. I thought I’d be nice and give out candy to each student as they got off the bus. Instead I ended up shouting at them the first 3 minutes into the ride because they couldn’t take a treat with respect. Having the radio on is a privilege on my bus.

I’m toying with several assigned seat ideas. Some of which include putting my little ones in some of the further back seats and seating my middle school up front. Additionally, perhaps sticking my little ones one to a seat and then having my middle schoolers fill in the seats. The issue I’m having now is that some of them wait to get on the bus till the last minute so they can get the back part of the bus. But then they act up when they get there. The bus ride is only 10 friggin minutes!!!!! They can’t seem to shut up and behave for 10 minutes!!! ARGHHHH.

One kid THREW candy AT my bus AFTER he got off. JACKASS!

It’s the last time I give a treat to any one of them for a VERY long time. I am very frustrated. But by the end of this weekend I WILL have a game plan. Mark my words. They are about to hate riding my bus.

Contemplating their demise,

The Bus Driver

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The continuing saga of Alternative Boy

This morning I went and turned in the write up for the incident yesterday afternoon. I had the bus shop pull the tape so that I could cue it up and the school could see the behavior in question. The principal of the Alternative School met with me in the office. Our exchange went something like this:

Principal: He got 5 days off for yesterday morning right?
Me: Yes Ma’am.
Secretary: Yes.
Principal: Ok, add another 10 days on top of that for this one.
Me: Ok, Thank you. So that’s 15 total days off the bus?
Principal: Yes, that’s what the protocol is.
Me: Thank you very much.

Excerpts from our current bus policy (taken directly from the handbook):

Riding a school bus is a privilege, not a right. The student who persists in misbehaving on a school bus jeopardizes the safety of everyone on the bus and may lose the privilege of riding the bus. The bus driver is responsible for maintaining discipline on the bus and in this capacity has the authority to assign seats and to make other reasonable demands of students. Any necessary discipline will be administered by a principal or the principal’s designee. In extreme circumstances, bus drivers may deliver a misbehaving student to a school principal or to the police before finishing the route. A student is to ride the bus to which he/she is assigned. Any emergency request to ride a bus not previously assigned to the student should be requested in writing by the parent/guardian.

The bus is an extension of the classroom/school, and the bus driver should be extended the same respect as a classroom teacher. The bus driver has absolute charge of the pupils riding his/her bus. Any offense covered in the Student Behavior Code (Policy JCDA) that occurs en route to and from school and/or on a school vehicle will be dealt with as if it occurred on school property. Also, students are not allowed to eat, drink, or chew gum while on the bus. In addition to the punishment options identified in the Student Behavior Code, administrators are authorized to suspend students from riding the bus for a specified period of one to ten days and require a parent conference before the student resumes riding the bus. During this conference, the administrator, parent(s)/guardian(s), and a student may establish a contract of bus conduct for the student to follow. If necessary, an administrator can suspend a student from bus transportation for the remainder of the school year.

The typical discipline for bus behavior problems goes as follows:

1st Write up – Warning (OR) 3 days off the bus – depends on school and the offense the student committed.

2nd Write up – 3 days off the bus. (This may be skipped to step 3 if the student has already had 3 days off for the 1st Write up)

3rd Write up – 5 days off the bus.

4th Write up – 10 days off the bus.

5th Write up – Loss of bus riding privilege.

Yes, Alternative Boy has earned himself 10 days off the bus for his rude and disrespectful behavior from yesterday afternoon. We shall continue this story when he gets back on the bus in 15 days. The principal didn’t even bother to look at the tape of the incident.

In other news, I need to figure out what I’m going to wear on Halloween. I’m thinking a witch hat and wig and a witch nose if I can find one! Any suggestions?

Loving the Peace and Quiet,

The Bus Driver

Monday, October 27, 2008

Alternative Boy gets written up

So, I just knew it wouldn’t be long before I had an interesting story about Alternative Boy. This morning began pretty typically, dropped the highschoolers off and continued to the first of four elementary schools that I drop off at in the morning times. He is calling me from the back of the bus asking to move up, change seats, and just generally being a pain in the rear. He changes seats anyways and I make him move back to his original seat. He didn’t like this too much and started to pout.

He forgets about pouting and begins to hold his arms as though he’s holding a rifle or a gun with them. He makes the cocking/loading noise of the gun and then “aims” and pretends to fire. He does this several times in the direction of the bus behind me. I tell him he needs to stop. He doesn’t listen. He then says, “What bus is behind us? Oh, Bus 36. They are ‘bout to get shot!” Then “aims” his “gun” at the bus behind me and continues to make the noise. I ask him if that is a threat and tell him to stop. He doesn’t listen again, “fires off” two more times and then stops, laughing.

I wrote him up.

He got 5 days suspended off the bus.

This afternoon he got on my bus with an attitude and flounced back to the back seat complaining the whole time that I wrote him up for “nothing” and that he didn’t deserve what he got. He continues to question me why I wrote him up and I ignored his prodding demands. I wasn’t going to get into it with him. Well he stews the whole ride, then 2 stops before his designated stop, he gets up and demands to get off the bus because I didn’t turn down his road and take him RIGHT home. We are not allowed to let them off at a stop other than their own designated stop. I ask him politely to sit down and wait until his stop. He continues to get louder and louder and then tells me to either let him off or call the police. I asked him to step aside to let the other children off at their designated stop, but as soon as I opened the door part way he kicked the door jerking it out of my hand (I have an older, swing arm/hand operated door on my bus) and proceeds to walk across in front of the bus. He takes the wad of gum (my kids are not allowed to have gum – or any type of candy - on the bus) out of his mouth and flips it up in front of me as if to say, “fuck you” and walks off.

I rerouted the bus so that I would not need to go by his house. I deliberately did that simply because I didn’t know if he had an actual gun at home and didn’t want to put myself or any of my other kids on the bus in danger of him. I plan to write him up again for insubordination and disrespect.

Staying Calm,

The Bus Driver

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Frustrations, frustrations, frustrations.

Well folks, I survived my first week of my new route only to discover more frustrations. I’ll be quite busy over the next week because the previous driver left with NO route description written and NO list of students names, phone numbers, allergies and what not. So that responsibility which should have been completed in AUGUST – and to some extent September - is now left up to me. I plan on composing a parent letter introducing myself and asking (begging) them to please fill out and complete the student information sheets.

Overall it’s been a good route so far but I’ve come to some conclusions:

1. The students SHALL have assigned seats. This will help me learn their names as well as figure out who is doing what when Brunette Girl comes up to me and says vaguely “They’re swearing (cussing) in the back.”

2. I shall be numbering all the seats in order for the sake of organization and sanity. When I say, “SEAT 4 sit down!” they know whom I’m addressing.

3. They will sit properly and follow all bus safety rules.

4. Morning routes are quiet routes.

5. Free Fridays will be implemented in cases of good behavior, however assigned seats and rules still apply.

The previous driver expected grades 4-8 to be quiet on the bus (no talking) in the afternoons. The kids are pretty good with this rule and I enjoy a nice quiet bus with some mild chatter in between the seats from my younger kids and highschoolers. Because I feel that no child should be forced to be silent ALL the time, I have implemented “Free Fridays” where they (my two silent groups) can choose between music and talking. If they choose to talk, they cannot get loud. If I have to speak to them more than 3 times about the volume, Free Friday is no more. I may choose to have on music of MY choice in the afternoons except on Friday where they can choose the station. I shall probably end up alternating Fridays with music and talking so that everyone gets a little fun on Fridays.

Alternative boy is still a pain in the rear, but his permanent assigned seat is one of the last seats on the bus. It gets him the furthest away from my 4th and 5th graders who tend to get riled up when he gets them going. If duct tape were legal, I’d tape his mouth shut.

My frustration for the week came about mid-week. I drop off 2 sisters right in front of their house. I specifically changed the route because I suspected the mother was not letting the children inside in the afternoons and that because I couldn’t see where the children were, the neighbor was getting stuck watching the children regularly. With the way I do the route now, I pass by these 2 girls’ house FOUR times - twice on each route. Normally it doesn’t concern me if parent is not home on the first run as they are typically there by the time we circle the neighborhood or by the time the second run passes by the house TWICE. Well, this time the children got off the bus FOUR separate times to find the apartment locked up tight with nobody home or answering the door. I FINALLY get a call on the radio from dispatch to turn around after I was planning on taking these kids to their fathers house across town, to go back to the house. I go back, and wait another TEN minutes AFTER the whole route has been done for the day for the mother to finally waltz her butt to her house to get the children. I let it go, but I’m wondering if this will be a regular issue for this mother and children. I suspect I’ll probably be making a trip to the police station in the near future with these kids simply because mom is not home. This is the same mother who sent her son onto the bus in his BOXER shorts… clothes in hand, and he had to get dressed ON the bus on the way to school.

It will DEFINITELY be an interesting year!!

The Bus Driver

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Entering New Territory

This past week I was asked if I would accept a permanent bus route. Up until now, I have been “floating” between buses, filling in for drivers who were absent, on fieldtrips, or otherwise unavailable to drive their buses. I loved doing that simply because my job changed every day. More and more though, I wanted a bus that I could call my own, but the options were limited and a few of them would have made me pull my hair out and quit had I taken the buses. (We have a few buses in town that are placed in the category of “worst bus ever.”)

On Wednesday, I got a phone call telling me I had until the afternoon to think about accepting a bus or remain a floater. We currently get .15 cents a mile and as floaters get paid for 52 miles a day. This bus that I’ve accepted has 81 miles. It’s a significant pay raise of about 20 dollars a week. It’s also one of the main reasons I accepted the bus. I spent the remainder of the week learning the route from the old driver, and trying to remember names of kids she tells me. This coming week will be my first week enforcing the same rules the old bus driver had on the bus, and making it “my” bus. I’m starting to have doubts entering this new territory, but I think I’m ready for the challenge of harnessing over 100 kids. This bus has 3 runs in the afternoon and 2 in the morning, so it will be a challenge to get these kids to school on time. The plus side is I already know a few of the kids. Unfortunately I know them as the troublemakers. But I’ve got enough experience that I believe I can handle them with my usual sarcasm and wit.

Alternative boy is a student I hauled approximately 2 years ago when the alternative school was located on a separate campus from regular school and was not funded by our public education system. We had an outside educator (Ombudsman) come in and run our alternative school. When I hauled him 2 years ago, he was no trouble to me, but he was known to have a bit of a smart mouth on him. I’ve been told he doesn’t sit with some of the younger students because he gets them all riled up. We’re gonna keep that rule!

Mouth girl is exactly that. She is the LOUDEST child I have EVER met. I encountered her early on, when she was in 7th grade at the middle school. I was substituting at the time and her and her classmates gave me a day of HELL. I had hoped to never see her again, but now that she is on my bus, I’ll have to deal with her. It seems now that she has learned to control her mouth, but has temper flare ups, so we’ll have to see how the year progresses.

D1 and D2 are twin boys who are very mischievous. They have nearly the same first name so it will be a challenge to tell who is who especially when I have to write one of them up. They are from my younger group of children who will be a challenge.

Blondie girl needs a seatbelt. Badly! I keep seeing her head pop up and down up and down. It’s like she is on a bouncy toy. She also comes from my younger children. I think she will probably end up having a permanent front seat if she cannot calm down and sit properly.

Hopefully I’ll survive my first week with them. If you don’t hear from me, send a search party!

Anxious and Excited,

The Bus Driver

Friday, October 10, 2008

Cops, Drugs, Fights, Crazy Neighbors and Fieldtrips.

Hi everyone!

I’ve been incredibly busy lately. October is our busy season. The field trips for all the fall events start rolling in. It starts with the local Pumpkin Patch and ends with the Ice Show. All of these events have one thing in common. How much time can we waste while students are supposed to be in school getting an education? Sometimes, I think fun should be a part of education. I remember when I was in elementary school, one of the best assemblies we had was when a group put on a show for us. We got to see our teachers having fun and even saw the Principal (all big scary administrator) get up and “let his hair down” so to speak. The field trips this week have reminded me of what its like to enjoy the simple things. One highlight of the week was actually transporting students to a Rodeo. Some of the locals in a nearby town put on a Rodeo and invited the children along for the festivities. Activities we were treated to were some cattle roping, bull riding, barrel racing, and just general laughs. Free tee shirts and lunches were provided for the kids, and it was just a good time.

Other than fieldtrips happening, I’ve been dealing with some crazy neighbors. I promised in a past blog that I’d tell the story, but the story is long and convoluted with details, so here is the condensed version of events.

Generally, my apartment complex has quiet people, ones that hold jobs, pay their rent, and look out for each other. In 4+ years of living here, I’ve never had to call the police for any reason, but since August of this year, I have had to call them twice on my downstairs neighbors.

The story begins late August, when a young guy (18 years old—maybe) and what appears to be a live-in girlfriend (18 years old—again maybe) move into the apartment. The guy drives a tricked out late-model Chevy pickup and advertises his ownership of said vehicle with a license plate emblazoned with his name. Chevy boy and Makeup girl are literally night owls and before long the apartment is the scene of late night parties, complete with loud music, Marijuana, drinking, and fights.

My first inkling that my new neighbors were trouble was when Chevy boy stopped me as I was heading into the building and brought a Marijuana search warrant to my attention. (Yeah THIS will end well.) I had suspected they were regular party people from the constant smell of cigarette and (yes) Marijuana smoke that hung in the hallway and seeped up through the poorly insulated walls and floors of my apartment. At first I was trying to be optimistic, thinking that maybe it was mistaken for the person who occupied the apartment previously.

A few days later, I heard cussing and lots of banging and thudding from the room directly beneath me. I heard an unidentified male say, “Don’t kick me, I’ll kick you back!” The girl yelled something back to him and there was more thudding and crashing. He said, “What the f--- are you doing?!?!” I then decided it was time to call the police. Three cop cars showed and the situation got resolved.

The police were called again and again for various reasons over the course of September. I asked a local police officer at a convenience store about my new “colorful” neighbors, and the police officer mentioned to me that the neighbors were well known around town as troublemakers.

Saturday, September 27, I was woken up in the middle of the night to some loud banging, crashing, thudding, and Makeup girl yelling, “Get him out of my house!” and “Someone better call 911!” So, I did, and Drunkboy got arrested after getting in a brawl with Chevy boy who was also drunk. I watched most of this from my upstairs window overlooking the parking lot. They sent 4 cop cars that night.

My folks rolled into town for a visit and they observed my crazy neighbors. The final straw happened on Sunday, October 5 when the police were called for stolen items by the crazy neighbors themselves. It became this whole soap opera and it was like watching Jerry Springer, Maury Povich, and an episode of Cops rolled into one big happy family sitcom.

They got evicted on Monday, October 6. Chevy boy, with the help of his parents, moved out of the apartment. He looked sufficiently humiliated. His parents looked downright pissed off. Makeup girl had packed up and left on Sunday.

At least my apartment doesn’t smell of cigarette smoke anymore!

Never a dull moment!!!

The Bus Driver