Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wishing Everyone....

A happy holiday, merry christmas, happy new year, etc etc. May you and yours have a wonderful holiday break from the insanity of education.

Friday was interesting. After a rocky morning, the afternoon had very little kids on my bus and most of them were just excited about the upcoming break. So, I decided to relax a little and play Christmas music. Until then!!

Snowed In,

The Bus Driver

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happy Holidays!!!

The last 3 days before vacation were much better. The high school had finals the last three days of the week, so I only ended up hauling 1-3 out of my normal 15-20 group of highschoolers home on the bus. My second group was only my 4th and 5th graders (the kids who ask incessant questions). I do 2 and a half runs in the afternoon to get all my kids home. Because they were exceptionally good for each of the 3 days, I allowed them to talk quietly once we got to the high school.

My 4th and 5th graders are usually expected to stay quiet because of the unnecessary squabbles that my kids typically get into while on the bus. They tend to take neighborhood issues and bring them on the bus creating tension and problems. The problems create unnecessary stress on me so I usually head it off at the beginning and tell them not to bring the issues on the bus and as such, they are not allowed to talk on the bus. They are pretty much a good group of kids, but they DO push buttons and they know exactly which buttons to push. I fear that because I loosened up slightly that it will backfire on me. I understand that they were excited about Christmas.

I have discovered that my highschoolers are my main problem and issue. They act like thugs and are very disrespectful. The last 3 days before vacation have opened my eyes to this especially since I did not have most of them on the bus. The bus had a different atmosphere. I was able to relax a little bit and instead of buying my kids anything for Christmas, I played Christmas music for my younger group of kids and then with my 4th and 5th graders I let them choose their seats (they have assigned seats) and played Christmas music.

The morning route has become interesting though since I have a new alternative student who just started riding. Alternative Girl is a piece of work and has a “cousin” on the bus that is one of my 4th and 5th graders. Well Alternative Girl insisted on talking and breaking the rules, so I asked her to come up front and sit down, she pitched a hissy fit and insisted on getting off at the wrong school and mouthed off to an administrator and mouthed off to me claiming I was only picking on her and not handling the other kids on the bus and that I was lying. She tried to get my other kids involved in it but I was so proud of them when they just stayed quiet and didn’t give her the reaction she was looking for. She told me to let her off the bus “before it gets ugly.” Yeah, I just LOVE threats from students. Her behavior is similar to the behavior of the kids I used to work with 4 years ago and it nearly triggered me into a panic attack. I’ll explain it in another blog. I kept my cool though and just let it roll off my shoulders. The rest of the bus was quiet and once she got off, her “cousin” started in on it and I told her to hush her mouth. She started to smart off at me and I stopped her in her tracks. The cousin was sleeping through most of it until Alternative Girl woke her up. As some of my 4th and 5th graders got off, I kept notes on who I kept having to tell to be quiet and told each of those they were getting a write up. I’ll turn them in after break because I couldn’t get the tape pulled until that afternoon. The sad thing is, if Alternative Girl had just done what I had asked in the first place, she wouldn’t even be getting a write up. The reason that her and her cousin are getting a write up is not for talking and even breaking the rules, but for the disrespect they displayed when riding the bus.

Glad its Christmas Break,

The Bus Driver

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

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Madness and Insanity

Well, I have definitely neglected this blog since Thanksgiving, but my schedule has just been filled with insanity.

First, I traveled up to Indiana to testify in a court case (guilty!), then returned to a myriad of doctor appointments and random field trips that take up most of my weekend time. I also babysit for a friend of mine on the nights she goes to work her second job until her husband comes home (approx 1 hr or so) so that has been keeping me very busy. So, that being said, I simply haven't had time to sit at the computer all that much and catch up on my regular blog reads.

The doctor appointments were successful in that both doctors (a foot doctor and an ear, nose, throat doctor) identified reasons for my suffering. (I have constant foot pain and sinus infections.) Turns out, I have heel spurs on both feet, with one being worse than the other. Luckily we caught the heel spurs early enough for proper intervention to fix the problem. I'll be getting custom made orthotics and I'm in a foot brace during the day (till the orthotics come in) and a night splint at night. My sinus problems are being caused by my adenoids, so they possibly have to come out. Yay me.

On to more recent events. Today I drove a group of 4th graders to a local television station. The kids got a tour of the station which included the weather "green screen" and got to meet the various anchors of the news. I stayed outside with the bus, but soon needed to seek a bathroom. I caught the noon news just as it began to air. The kids still hadn't come out from their studio tour, so I figured they were probably behaving so well, that the studio had allowed them to watch the taping of the news. At the last 3 minutes of the news, the studio flashed the kids on the screen and they got to wave and say goodbye. The news anchor voiced over the picture and said "S Elementary from W. County, State is visiting us in studio today!! Wave goodbye kids!!" It was way cool considering that they don't typically do that with school groups. The teacher said that they were very well behaved so they earned that treat. The kids were so excited when they got back on the bus, and it was so unexpected that noone thought to record the news. I hope they are able to get a copy from the station or that someone's parent recorded the news.

Speaking of news, Alternative Boy got arrested at school for possession of Cocaine. He hasn't been on the bus since, but I've seen him wandering the neighborhood. I suspect he's been expelled or suspended from school.

Pipsqueak badly needs a seatbelt. For the life of me I cannot get that child to sit still in his seat. I have removed his backpack from him since he tends to go inside his backpack, then when its time for him to get off the bus, all of his stuff is falling out of his arms as he wanders up the aisle.

My middleschool kids are learning the hard way that I mean business. In the mornings, with the exception of 2-3 kids, I tell them what seat to sit in as they get on the bus. In the afternoons, with the exception of a handful of kids, I also tell them where to sit, though its slightly more difficult because I need my trouble makers up front and still have my little ones on the bus at the time.

I'm now having trouble out of my highschool group who has decided to take advantage of me. I'm beginning to think they need assigned seats as well. My second run is the worst as far as behavior problems go because my 4th and 5th graders like to talk back to me. I can't wait for Christmas.

The Wheels on the Bus......

The Bus Driver