Friday, December 11, 2009

Nemo On Ice meets My Car

November has been a whirlwind month for me. Early in the month, I mentioned that I was going to see Nemo On Ice and that a personal situation was taking up much of my time. Then Thanksgiving happened, I had family come and visit, and as such, have not been able to update as frequently as I'd have liked to.

Nemo On Ice was really cute and very well put together. It basically followed the movie and had some new fun songs. The skaters were really talented and managed some very difficult moves on ice wearing huge fish costumes that would have put me on my butt! The drive up and back was relatively uneventful except the teachers on my bus were questioning every driving decision I made. They were speaking amongst themselves but were quite loud and obnoxious about openly debating why we were taking X road instead of Y road, and how we could be there faster if we had done Y and Z instead of W and X. Part of me wanted to pull the bus over, get up and tell them that they can drive. Then we hit traffic on the way in as always happens when the Civic Center has a huge child friendly production, and they proceeded to complain about THAT! The rest of the trip went without incident.

After driving all day and dealing with grouchy teachers, I was on my way home when a lady ran a stop sign causing me to hit the brakes. Despite all my efforts, we collided. She was traveling so fast that she pulled my car 90 degrees to the right with her momentum, and when we disconnected, I hit a stop sign. It flattened. My airbags did NOT go off and I was miraculously not hurt. My car was deemed a total loss. I couldn't post about it until the issue had completely resolved. RIP 2001 Honda Accord.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dear Parent Who Rolled His Eyes At Me

Warning: Rant below. Read at your own Risk!

Dear Impatient Parent,

I'm sorry your children didn't get home until 4:06 pm today. I'm sorry that I was cautious and drove safely out of concern for YOUR children. I'm sorry that the bus I drove today was not fast enough for you. I'm sorry I couldn't get your children home earlier than 4:06 pm. I'm sorry that I don't know the bus route well enough because the regular driver changes the route path often. I'm sorry if I had to deal with constant behavior problems because I am a substitute driver. I'm sorry that the other children on the bus cause delays because precious seconds are wasted when they say good bye or ANOTHER concerned parent stops to talk to me briefly. I'm sorry we had a delay leaving the school on time because of traffic patterns and concerns.

I'm sorry the bus is so packed that I am forced to make two runs just so we can fit all the children on the route on the bus to get home. I'm sorry that my being late by a few minutes has inconvenienced you and forced you to stand at the bus stop for your children a few extra minutes. So excuse me when you roll your eyes and look at your watch and sigh disrespectfully and disdainfully in my direction and when I apologize to your face for the delays, you simply turn away and walk toward your house sighing loudly and glaring at me because I am a safe cautious driver who does not race to get from point A to point B, instead I choose to play it safe for your children and the safety of OTHER peoples children. You are NOT the only parent in the world!


The Bus Driver

Friday, November 13, 2009

Just a Quick Update

I haven't forgotten about the blog world. As planned, I went and saw Nemo On Ice on November 6. It was a spectacular show which I will detail in a future blog. Be on the look out for new and exciting links as I re-vamp my blogroll and add new links over the next 4 weeks. I am presently going through a personal situation which is taking up most of my time, so bear with me.


The Bus Driver

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Question: Proper Loading and Unloading

A while back, I invited readers to submit their questions to me via my email Well today, we have the first of many questions.

Aren't all students, including those in wheelchairs supposed to be ready for pickup and not sitting inside the house waiting for the bus to come? Also those red lights? Aren't they only supposed to go on when the students are actually boarding the bus or unloading the bus? and not while the bus is just sitting there waiting for the student(s) to get to come out of the house and get to the end of the driveway?

Extremely frustrated from NY

Dear Extremely Frustrated,

The general rule of thumb is that all able students should be out at a bus stop 5 to 10 minutes ahead of the scheduled pick-up time. This means that students who ride the regular education buses should be ready and waiting for the bus to get them. The only exception to this rule is in inclement weather where a child may wait in a garage or at the door ready to dash (run or walk quickly) out to the bus when it pulls up.

As for wheelchair students and special education students, these students typically get door-to-door service from the local bus company and usually a bus will pull into the driveway of the student who needs services. These buses are typically smaller than a 40-foot bus. However, I have seen buses that are the size of a regular education bus, but are equipped with a wheelchair lift. A lot of special education students need far more supervision than is given at a traditional bus stop, therefore it does take a little more time to load and unload these students, usually 5-10 minutes, due to their special needs.

The flashing yellow and red lights should be activated anytime a bus is stopped on a roadway for the purpose of loading and unloading students. This is for the safety of all motorists and students standing at the stop. Typical times for any given bus stop vary from 30 seconds to 3 minutes, depending on circumstances. If you feel a bus driver is taking an exceptionally long time at a stop because a child is not ready at the stop, you can call the local bus garage for your area and report the situation. Otherwise, I encourage you to be patient, the child may have forgotten something and had to run back to the house to get it, or there could be other extenuating circumstances that would prolong a wait at a stop.

We understand that you are just as busy as we are and need to get places just like we do, but we do appreciate your understanding. We do our best not to hold up traffic on main roads so as not to impede the flow of traffic, but unfortunately it does happen occasionally.

Activating The Lights,

The Bus Driver

Calling all Trivia Buffs!

A fellow bus driver has started a trivia contest for each of her schools on her route. She is having trouble coming up with questions that are appropriate for each age group. The age groups on the bus range from pre-k to high school. The age group splits are as follows - pre-k thru 2nd grade, 3rd-5th grade, 6-8th grade, and 9th -12th grade. I invite my readers to submit their trivia questions along with an answer to, or simply leave a comment tagged to this post. Please also designate the intended age group for the question.

The two current questions we've had for the kids are:

Kindergarten thru 5th grade for this one -
Question: Name the biggest state EAST of the Mississippi. Answer: Georgia


Middle School (6-8)
Question: Make at least 4 comparisons between John F. Kennedy, and Abraham Lincoln.

JFK and Lincoln were both assassinated by men with three names. (Lee Harvey Oswald and John Wilkes Booth)

JFK died in a Ford, Lincoln died in Ford's Theater.

etc etc etc.

Questioningly Yours,

The Bus Driver

Sunday, November 1, 2009


This was sent to me by my mother, who received it in an email from her Chiropractor.

Halloween is a joyous occasion filled with adventure, excitement, ghouls and goblins, as well as the ingestion of sugary sweets and candy.

While most will agree occasionally snacking on small amounts of these treats is acceptable, excessive amounts of Kit Kats and peanut butter cups may become more readily available this time of year leading to over indulgence.

Such foods with a high glycemic index (i.e.: candy/soda) can have a dramatic affect on immunity. In fact, there is enough sugar in one 12oz. can of soda to lower the body’s immune response by 60% for up to 9 hours.

At a time of year when our immune systems are already taxed with the stress of daily life and lack of sunlight, sugar can certainly weaken our body’s defense system as well. Additional calories not burned off are easily stored as fat and with Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner this can start us off in a down turn of our health.

To combat against sugary sweets haunting our household our family is visited by “The Great Pumpkin” on Halloween night. When the kids come home from “Trick or Treating” we all sit on the family room floor and sort through the treats. The kids are allowed to keep a half dozen of their favorites and the rest go back in the bag. They leave the bag on the floor before they go to bed. That night, while the children are sleeping, “The Great Pumpkin” takes the bag of candy and properly disposes of the contents (after a couple of the M&M’s and Reese’s have been removed of course). In turn, “The Great Pumpkin” leaves a gift, such as a book, Lego’s, videogames and maybe a piece of fruit. The kids have always enjoyed waking up the next morning to a wrapped gift.

The intent of creating “The Great Pumpkin” visits was another way of instilling concepts of wellness in our children, to make healthy choices that can last a lifetime.

Hope you all had a safe Halloween!

The Bus Driver

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Natural Consequences – Puke Girl and Poop Boy

Every now and then, I come across children that make me shake my head and wonder, “Why?” I am talking about children who insist on trying to be manipulative to get their own way. Now, most children have manipulative tendencies, but there are a few, such as Puke Girl and Poop Boy who take it to extremes.

Puke Girl is likely in the 4th grade and is a very bright child. She likes to make herself vomit in order to attain attention and to accomplish a couple missions. The first mission is to get off the bus as quickly as possible by vomiting so the bus driver has to call the school nurse, school nurse calls mom, mom comes and picks up the kid, no stinky bus ride home. Her other mission, should the first one fail, be that SHE be the FIRST child to be taken home by the bus driver, again using the vomiting as her excuse. The second scenario typically happens if the child happens to live towards the end of the route.

Poop Boy is a 7/8-year-old morbidly obese boy who is prone to tantrums if he does not get his way. He uses the same tactics as Puke Girl in order to garner attention. If he does not get his way (having a seat to himself, getting off the bus first) he throws a tantrum, huffs and puffs, and poops his pants. The result being a very stinky, tantrum-y child who still does NOT get his way.

Most children when legitimately sick, will have things they cannot control. Most of them don’t think about how they’re going to puke or poop today in order to get attention. I can usually tell those children who are legitimately sick as opposed to the others. Those kids who are legitimately sick typically look sicker than the fakers. They also will come up and tell you themselves instead of sending another student to do the “dirty work.” The main tell tale sign is that other students on the bus tend to roll their eyes at the offender as if to say “Oh not again!!”

I have developed a few tactics to deal with the “repeat” offenders. My first tactic in regards to pukers is no sympathy. I tell them to aim for the trashcan and if they miss the trashcan, they can be the ones to clean up the mess. My second tactic in regards to pukers is that when they are done, they can take and hold the plastic bag ALL the way home, and then they can be responsible for disposing of it. My third tactic is to not give into their demands. If they puke or poop, they get to sit in it or around it all the way home. I’m not going to reroute just to accommodate them. Insensitive yes, but it gets the point across especially on a very long bus ride.


The Bus Driver

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Police Escort, The Rodeo, and Screamer Boy

Last Thursday, we took the local elementary schools to a free rodeo put on by local rodeo enthusiasts who hold a rodeo every year. Last year, we went and the place was packed, but there was still plenty of seating for everyone. This year however, it seemed the crowd doubled and there was standing room only. People were parked every which way and it was near impossible to maneuver the 35+ buses that were assigned to transport students to and from the rodeo. Some of us even had to do double duty, myself included.

Because of this double duty and due to the location of the two schools I transported, the local sheriffs provided escorts to and from the rodeo, flashing lights and all. When we have police escorting us, it’s the only time we can LEGALLY go through stop signs and red lights. It freaked some of the teachers out that were riding with me when we came up on the first stop sign. It was also cool to be the last bus in line, radioing ahead for clearance (the police were listening to us), and seeing the cruisers come flying past us at 80+ mph to get to the next checkpoint to block traffic for us. All in all, a great use of police resources.

In other news, I get to go see Disney on Ice this year. I’ve heard its actually Nemo on Ice, so I get to see the little fishy skate. Again your tax dollars hard at work.

Next item of business, Screamer Boy. Screamer Boy is an obnoxious middle schooler who insists on making every bus drivers life a living hell. There are about a handful of kids on this same bus who are equally as obnoxious and when confronted about the deplorable behavior, these kids deny any involvement or any knowledge as to who it is that is being the most obnoxious. I drove the bus about 2 weeks ago and all of these kids (middle school AND high school) were extremely obnoxious and downright disrespectful. I even pulled over and demanded they stop the behavior at once and they got up in my face and demanded that I let them off and told me to basically go to hell in a nutshell. The kids even refused to get quiet at the railroad crossings which is required by LAW.

Screamer Boy insisted on screaming obnoxiously in short bursts the entire bus ride, getting on my nerves quite frankly, he almost caused me to have an accident SEVERAL times because of his screaming. If a kid screams, I’m trained to find the problem quickly as a kid may be in DANGER. This screaming was obnoxious and DELIBERATE. Screamer Boy got off at his stop (he was the only one at his stop) then turned and screamed at the bus deliberately in a motion as to say F-U B*tch. I made note of what he looked like and who it was.

I got sweet revenge last Thursday when again, I found myself driving the same bus. I pulled up at the middle school and Screamer Boy got on the bus. I told him flat out that he was going to sit in the front seat. He looked at me and said “You can’t make me sit in the front seat, and I’m not gonna sit in the front seat.” I think he said a few cuss words in my direction and was extremely disrespectful in tone. I called the principal over to the bus and explained the situation from two weeks ago. The principal called him to the front of the bus and requested that he follow my directions. He got very disrespectful and lippy with her and she told him that either he could follow my direction and sit in the front seat or find himself another ride home. He chose to get off the bus and find another ride home. Surprisingly with him off the bus, no one else acted out or was disrespectful. I believe the kid is probably the ringleader of this group and gets everyone started and then sits back and watches the bus driver go crazy. I suspect this because a fellow bus driver drove the route today and had the exact same problems as I did. The sad thing is, the route is all of 15-20 minutes once the kids are loaded from all the schools. They can’t seem to behave sometimes.

Zero Tolerance,

The Bus Driver

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The “Terrible” Weekend of Airports and Parades

In the past two days, I’ve had a whirlwind adventure after whirlwind adventure. On Saturday, I drove a lady to the airport, and then transported a different lady to her son’s home within the same town as the airport. Sunday found me going in the opposite direction with an ornery elderly gentleman who groused the whole 6 hour round trip drive. This weekend taught me one lesson, PATIENCE!

The drive to the airport on Saturday was relatively uneventful except for the 30 million and one questions both my passengers asked and constant repeated answers. We finally pulled into the airport after two hours of torture pleasant driving. The lady informs me that she will need assistance in the form of a wheelchair and luggage cart. I step out of the van to locate assistance and saw the curbside Delta kiosk. I walked up to the gentleman standing at the kiosk and politely requested assistance with my client. He scoffed and asked if she was flying Delta. I told him she was flying with a competitive airline, but that airline did NOT have a marked desk for curbside assistance. I asked him if he would be so kind as to radio or call someone to help my client. He told me, “I only work for Delta.” I reiterated my dilemma and requested assistance politely (though inside I was screaming JACKASS!) He replied again with, “I only work for Delta, you can go over there and ask for someone else to help you.” Then he pointed to the other kiosk about 40 feet down the sidewalk.

I went back to the bus and informed the lady very loudly (so everyone in the vicinity could hear me) that because the Delta employee was being a complete ASSHOLE that it would be a little longer until I could get her assistance off the bus. I FINALLY got information from a very nice security guard who was pacing the sidewalk and was able to flag a lady down to help my client. For those wondering I HAVE written to Delta about their employee’s poor attitude towards helping anyone.

My second client and I returned to the highway to travel down a few extra exits and just got off at the exit to her son’s home, when we ran into traffic. A school bus was blocking the road, and we couldn’t figure out why. I maneuvered the bus around and made a U-turn and tried to detour around the traffic jam. Turns out, there was a homecoming high school parade and we ended up getting a front row seat and watched as the parade made its way down the main section of town. We finally made it to her son’s house where he promptly tried to hit on me, though he could have just been really friendly. I deflected his advances but was eternally grateful when we left.

This morning (Sunday) I picked up an elderly gentleman and drove 2 hours one way, then sat and waited an hour while he loaded up the bus with junk from his storage warehouses. During the drive up to his warehouses, we talked about how terrible life was, how crooked people are, and how everyone is involved with drugs. I have renamed this guy Negative Ned. It was pure torture listening to this guy grouse about everything that was so terrible in life. He hates the government and just about anything that moves! I was glad when we rolled back into town!

Adventured Out!

The Bus Driver

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Babysitting=Jail Time? WTF

I saw this on Facebook:

Searched it on YouTube (the audio is slightly off for this video, but it has the basic story):

And News Articles:

This is insane! Parents try to do the responsible thing in finding adequate supervision for their kids for a mere 45 minutes while they wait for the school bus. Friends helping friends. This woman is facing jail time because she is a GOOD parent?! There is definitely something wrong with this picture here. The Department of Human Services tells the parents to "get the kids an umbrella, and make them wait outside". Next thing you know the SAME person who called in about this "Illegal Daycare" will be calling in about child abuse and neglect, because the children are waiting outside unsupervised in the rain/sleet/snow/sun.

I WISH parents were this responsible in making sure their children are adequately taken care of when they get on and off the bus. CRAZY!


The Bus Driver

Friday, September 25, 2009


I had a good laugh the other day when I pulled behind one bus with a bunch of kids misbehaving. I glared at the kid who was standing in the seat and acting up. He happened to glance back at me. I pointed down with my finger and mouthed the words, SIT DOWN. The kid got a wide eyed look and immediately shrunk back down in the seat. BUSTED!

Since I bounce from bus to bus, I get to know the troublemakers on each bus. This morning when I rode the bus and seated all the kids, they took one look at me and knew I meant business. I have perfected the "Glare" that causes any child to immediately start behaving.

Influentially Glaring!

The Bus Driver

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Overheard - The Series Continues

I often get very witty one liners from kids as they get on or off the bus. I've decided to document these and turn them into a recurring blog feature.

The last stop of the day had a brother and sister pair getting off the bus. Both kids annoy each other and the sister always seems to try to have the last word just to annoy the brother. The sister had gotten off the bus first and raced ahead of the brother to tell their parents what he had done.

The brother wanders up the aisle and suddenly stopped and looked at me and asked:

Brother: Ms. Bus Driver? Have they invented the human muzzle yet?

Me: Uhm, actually I'm not sure. Why? So you can put it on your sister?

Brother: Yeah! When I get older, I'm going to invent the human muzzle and she'll be the FIRST to try it!

Laughing Hysterically,

The Bus Driver

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Stop Signs

Every year we go through school bus safety rules with children. We review the safety concerns of getting on and off the bus, how to perform an emergency evacuation, and the importance of following all safety precautions on the bus. Every year there are students who get killed due to carelessness and ignorance. Part of the fault lies with the students, but a majority of the fault lies with the motorist who ignores the safety and laws regarding a stopped school bus.

School buses are equipped with emergency 4-way flashers, 8-way student lights, and flashing stop signs, sometimes the rear of the bus is equipped with a flashing panel warning motorists behind the bus that the bus is about to stop. Each state has their own laws regarding stopping for buses that are loading and unloading children, most states require that motorists obey the signs attached to the bus as if they were a fixed point. That means, if the school bus has all lights activated, the stop signs attached to the bus are extended, and you see the door open and students either entering or exiting the bus, YOU MUST STOP! DO NOT roll by the bus at a crawl. DO NOT speed up to get past the bus that is already stopped with lights and safety protocol activated. DO NOT play chicken with the children who may or may not be in the road and paying attention to YOU.

Often children get off the bus and cross the road without even stopping to look for traffic. They assume since the school bus is stopped, that it must be safe. Also, there are parents who are waiting for their children to get off the bus, some with the younger sibling of the child. As a motorist, you DO NOT want to explain to a distraught mother why you ran the school buses stop sign, and struck their child as their child was running into their arms. Rest assured though, if you do run our stop signs, we are required by law to record your license plate number, the color of your vehicle, and a description of you, and you WILL be getting a visit from a nice deputy explaining why it is important to stop for a school bus. You may also get a ticket.

We understand you’re busy and often in a hurry to get to your destination but please, consider the safety of the children and stop for school buses. You will be caught.

Always Cautious,

The Bus Driver

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Imagine my shock and surprise when I received a comment congratulating me on being one of Scholastic’s Top 20 Teacher Blogs. Naturally, I had to research this, and lo and behold, I’m definitely on the list as number 20. It’s quite an honor to be selected.

Welcome to my new readers that come here as a result of the Scholastic article. Up next, a rant on stop signs. Stay tuned.

Feeling Special,

The Bus Driver

Friday, September 11, 2009

Vacant is to Open as Occupied is to....

"Wait, coach, whats that "O" word and what does it mean?"

Yes that is the question one of the 11th-12th grade varsity softball players asked on the field trip to their game yesterday. I couldn't believe it.

In other news, all students are now standing outside in 15 degree weather for 15 minutes while waiting for the bus... in short sleeves and shorts. Oh and its snowing too. (Not really, but apparently it must be cold according to parents so we must be insane to make kids wait for the bus. The real temperature in the mornings has been in the low to mid 70's.)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Overheard: Part Deux

Today, I told the joke regarding broccoli and boogers to a pair of sisters, one is in 2nd grade, the other in 3rd. I baby sit them when their mom goes off to her second job. Their mom and I both drive a bus and are friends. Anyhow, telling them the joke, the third grader looks me dead in the eye after the punchline and says seriously:

"But Miss. Bus Driver, I eat BOTH my broccoli AND my boogers."


The Bus Driver

Monday, August 24, 2009

As Promised

You can now submit questions or comments to

Please feel free to ask any questions or let me know what you think of this blog. I'll do my best to answer any questions you have.


This afternoon, I was listening to a bunch of elementary kids share dorky jokes. The kind a 5th grader finds hilarious. Anyhow, the following conversation conspired between me and one of the children.

Child: Miss Bus Driver?

Me: What kiddo?

Child: Whats the difference between broccoli and a booger?

Me: I don't know? What?

Child: Kids don't eat broccoli!

I must admit, I laughed all the way to the next stop.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Response to a Comment

On my last post, I received a very long comment from A Police Wife. I felt she asked some very valid questions and I felt they needed to be addressed in a separate blog post. So, I’ll be taking her long comment and addressing it piece by piece.

Hi, I came over from Walking a thin blue line when I saw your little bus avatar. I've always wanted to know what goes on in the mind of bus drivers. :) My daughter's (1st grade) school is right off a major highway and it's the scariest thing ever. I don't know if i'll ever let her walk to school on her own.

Dear Mrs. Fuzz,

Thank you for reading my blog and taking an interest in what goes on inside a bus drivers mind. Its not pretty at times, but we can always put a humorous spin on things. I hope that you don’t let your daughter walk to school unless there is a police escort/crossing guard to help her cross the busy road. Safety first.

Last year in kindergarten, they had a bus just for kindergarteners. The morning bus driver was great and the kids loved him. He interacted with them while he drove and my daughter would come home with songs and jokes that she learned from the bus driver. The afternoon driver was another story. She seemed stressed and flustered, and once we parents waited at the bus stop for over an hour. Finally one of us called the school, and the office said that all our kids were there in the office waiting to be picked up. Apparently the bus driver couldn't find the last bus stop on her route which was about 8-10 kids. So she took them back to the school and said, "go to the office. My shift is over" and she went home! no one had any explanation for us and many of us were very upset.

So I guess I want to know what should she have done? Isn't there a radio to call in to talk to someone if you get lost? Shouldn't she have checked with the school to see if parents were still waiting at the bus stop? It was very confusing. It seemed like she was just in a hurry to clock out and go home and didn't care what happened to the kids. Also, shouldn't she know the route like the back of her hand before driving it?

First off, I am appalled at the bus driver’s actions in complete disregard for the children’s safety and security. At least she did return the children to the school, but that does not excuse her dismissive behavior. However, that being said, getting lost happens, even to the best of us, and to those of us who think we know the roads. Sometimes buses are forced to reroute and detour due to unforeseen road conditions such as accidents, trains, washouts, fruit all over the highway, whatever the case may be. I don’t know the exact weather at the time of your incident, so I’m only speaking generally.

Secondly, there are several avenues available to bus drivers in these situations. Most buses are equipped with a two way CB radio that allows the bus driver to communicate with the bus garage. In most instances the bus driver will either be able to find the proper stop, or will simply ask the bus garage to contact either the school or the parents. Parents should fill out student information forms to give to the bus driver on the first week of school. The information contained in these forms is pretty simple and is standard. Name, phone number, address, etc. Please keep in mind if you don’t keep us updated as to your current phone number or address, we won’t be able to contact you as a parent and we will have to find other avenues of getting your child home, whether it be returning to the school or taking the child to the police station.

As a parent there are a few things you can do on your end. If your child does not arrive home within a reasonable time (within 10 minutes of the scheduled stop time – for example if your child is supposed to arrive home at 3:15, you should allow from 3:05-3:25 for your child to arrive through your door) you can call the school and you can call the bus garage and ask for a status on the bus. If anything they can try to put you in contact with the driver so you can either meet the bus, or agree upon a central meeting location that both you and the bus driver know in order to retrieve your child.

Third, sometimes buses end up having substitute drivers. Substitute drivers sometimes don’t know the routes as well as the normal drivers do and are prone to making mistakes. I’ve been on a few buses where I’ve taken wrong turns and needed to go around the block to correct my mistake. Even the most experienced bus driver makes mistakes, but from a parents perspective, 5 minutes can seem like 5 hours when it comes to missing your child.

Also, my daughter would come home and talk about the mean bus driver and one time when she did something naughty and i was not happy with her, she said, "your face looks like the same face my bus driver makes!" Sounds to me like she didn't like kids very much. So I guess another question I would love to have you answer would be what qualities, if any, do you think an elementary school bus driver should posess?

Sorry for the epic comment. You have a fun blog to read!

I transport all age children from pre-k (4) to highschool (18). As a bus driver, I have learned to be patient. Kids will be kids, they will act up, and they will goof around. The trick is finding the balance between expecting them to show proper behavior and allowing them to have fun. I try to make safety my first priority, and that means that I will not allow a child to stand up on the seat or on the bus while it is in motion, to stick their head, hands, arms, feet or any other body part out of the open window, to create excessive noise to the point it prevents me from hearing traffic or the important CB radio announcement, and I will not let them eat or drink on the bus (except water).

Writing a kid up every time they pick their nose, or sneeze, or dumping their book bag out everywhere is ridiculous and absurd. Kids will not be perfect, but you can expect them to show respect to you and their fellow riders. Setting firm boundaries that are clear and precise allow even the youngest children to understand and follow the rules to keep them safe. A firm quiet tone will go way further than a loud screaming shouting match. Kids respond better when they see that you mean business in a firm way. I have perfected the “look” that will make a kid shrivel and behave. They know I mean business when I give them the “look.” Will there be days when my attitude is not a happy one, sure, but I try not to let that affect the kids. I’ve been known to pass out candy canes, or pencils on certain holidays, and play holiday appropriate music on the bus as the seasons draw near. I’ve also been known to just let them have fun. For example, Friday I had a busload of kids singing “The Wheels On The Bus” and “The Gummy Bear Song”. I sang along!

I hope this answered your questions!

Singing Along,

The Bus Driver

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Playing In Traffic

Is there no end to middle school stupidity?!

This morning as I was finishing a route and pulled out onto a major highway (4 lanes across with a turn lane in the middle dividing the 4 lanes)I had the unfortunate pleasure of watching THREE middle school boys play chicken with rush hour traffic.

Actually to be more precise, two of the boys were egging on the third who played a game of "tag" with the white lines on the pavement. First the boy wandered into a single lane, then he tried his luck and raced ACROSS the FOUR LANE road to "tag" the white line on the other side. I know we cannot control the people who walk along the side of the road, but my heart froze when I realized the kid was being stupid.

Most of the time, mornings will find very few kids walking to school, but in the afternoons, there is a FLOOD of middle school kids who like to walk home from the school instead of riding the bus. Unfortunately, this middle school is located along a major highway and there is really no safe place to cross. I've watched kids dart out in front of buses, I've had them dart out in front of me causing me to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting them.

One of my biggest fears as a bus driver is seeing a child get struck by a vehicle, bus or car. Either way it would be a huge tragedy.

This also brings me to another point. With school being back in session and buses traveling the roads more frequently, if you drive, please be on the lookout for kids at bus stops as well as the school bus itself. I know a big yellow box is pretty hard to miss, but we've had people to run right into our rear ends while we're stopped either letting children off the bus, or picking them up from their stops. So please use caution and be more alert while driving especially during the course of a school year.


The Bus Driver

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Will you PLEASE just SIT DOWN!

Ok, sometimes I do harp on children staying seated, but after coming across this gem on I have come to the conclusion that I don't tell children to sit down because its for MY good, but its for THEIR good. I see this happen all too often when a child will not sit down or refuses to park their behinds in a seat. They don't sit down, they get hurt, parents get angry, and somehow its our fault even though most of the time we're continually telling them to sit down, face forward, lower their voices, whatever the case may be.

Today my coworkers and I were discussing our ideal bus. Most of our suggestions included built in straight jackets in the color of your choice (grey or mahogany) - to match the bus seats, mandatory duct tape over those mouths that don't seem to want to stay shut, and that industrial strength velcro in vest form to keep them stuck to the seats. Other ideas that were tossed around were rollercoaster restraints - the bar AND the overhead chest restraint, and other ways of making a child sit and stay in a seat.

Safety First,

The Bus Driver

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Little Better

So far, the second day went far better than the first. It is still a bit of a disaster when the powers that be decide that we're going to make all these "exceptions" for all these kids. Another problem is brewing though and that is the traffic. There is greatly increased traffic flow around the schools and that is causing some major traffic backups around town. Unfortunately due to the change in the configuration of our school, there is simply not enough space at 2 out of 4 elementary schools to accommodate the number of buses needed to start at each school.

I hope that through the week ahead, alot of that congestion can be eliminated. So far, this year has been far better as far as kids being left behind. Because every school pretty much goes in one wave, all the kids get on their buses before the buses move, therefore eliminating any confusion as to where to stand or sit to wait for the bus.

I think that as the week progresses, we will find most buses getting home at normal times with a few outliers.


The Bus Driver

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Today we started a brand spankin' new school year, and there is only ONE word (well actually several words including some cuss words which are woefully inappropriate for little ears to hear) to describe today, and that is DISASTER.

There have been alot of changes to our schools this year including a switch to a new K-5 configuration for 3 of our schools, new teachers, new routines, and new bus zones. They have divided up old routes and created all new routes based on the zones, taken kids off certain buses and totally confused them when it came right down to it this afternoon. They're also busing our pre-k babies (4-5 yr olds) from one school to another just to get them on the proper buses. We had crying kids, kids in the wrong school, kids who had no bus, and kids who were just stuck places with no one to help them.

I drove a bus that went to schools and picked up the "stragglers." These are the kids who missed their bus, got on the wrong bus, or had no other place to go.

I expect things will even out by tomorrow or even monday, but its going to be a headache until then.

****New Announcement**** I'd like to open this blog for reader/parent questions. If you have any questions on the process of being a school bus driver, on what its like to drive a school bus, or any bus for that matter, or if you'd like to just ask me a question, please feel free to submit them in the comment section after any blog post.

Presently all comments are moderated, so I can select those comments and respond back with a blog answer. This is until I get a blog specific email set up so people can submit their questions.

Popping Advil,

The Bus Driver

Monday, August 10, 2009


August 13 is our first day of school. Our state is facing budget cutbacks this year and all teachers and other personnel are being asked to furlough some of their paid days this year to help make ends meet. Luckily bus drivers in my county are unaffected by this request due to the fact that children HAVE to go 180 days to school.

We have two meetings coming up and our county is facing some very large changes for the 2009/2010 school year. Children are being shifted into certain zones to even out the attendance and bus routes are changing to accommodate. It will be a very interesting year.


The Bus Driver

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Hummingbird

A few days ago, I experienced something that few people ever experience. I held a hummingbird in the palm of my hand and nursed it back to health. I was at a Walmart nearby and was heading in to do some much needed shopping, and noticed a small object on the ground. On first glance it looked like a butterfly, but upon closer inspection and noticing the Walmart employee who picked up the object that it was a hummingbird.

She was pretty stunned from her hard landing inside the entrance to Walmart and the employee told me that she didn't know what to do. I remembered hearing from my mother that hummingbirds enjoy nectar which is basically sugar and water. I was on a mission then! I was able to get some sugar and water from the Mickey D's inside Walmart and held the cup up to the bird's beak. She hungrily lapped up the water and made a full recovery. She was so comfortable with me she stayed on my hand a bit before flying away.

Monday, August 3, 2009

I'll have Patience with a side of Crazy

Friday was a very difficult day. It started out ordinarily enough, but then progressively got worse over the course of the day culminating in to full blown chaos. I normally handle chaos very well, but after a day of dealing with the folks I’ve dealt with, I simply didn’t need any more stress to add to the pile. All names are fake but describe the person.

First, let me tell you all about Captain Crazy. Captain Crazy lives with his mother, Mrs. Crazy, out in the boondocks. Mrs. Crazy is very unstable on her feet and prone to falling (she’s fallen before). She is also very elderly, and has a lot of medical problems. Captain Crazy cares for Mrs. Crazy, probably not by choice. I hauled them to the doctor about a month ago and Captain Crazy earned his name by shouting that he is going to sue the transit company and carried on and basically was loud and obnoxious the whole hour long ride. Captain Crazy even called his LAWYER while he was being transported. I fought the urge to slam on the brakes and send Captain Crazy sprawling. Anyhow, fast forward a few weeks and I hauled both again to the doctors, this time locally. I made it a point to be polite to Captain Crazy and ask HIM how he was doing. I supposed no one paid much attention to him and I assumed that he probably got “stuck” caring for his mother. He seemed to be more agreeable then. Then Friday, I ended up hauling him again, this time alone. HE was using his mother’s power chair, which seems to be permanently stuck on high speed! Whatever.

The second thing that aggravated me was the fact that I had to haul Mopey Mona. Mopey Mona is in a constantly depressed state and tends to repeat herself over and over and over again. She whines about every little problem that happens to her so much I want to just scream at her, “LOOK bitch, I’m working two jobs, and paying all my bills, my parents don’t live near me and I’ve pulled my big girl panties up and move on with life!”

The third thing that really frustrated me was the lift from hell. Often times our lifts need a little help working or they tend to break from over use every day. The bus I have been using during July, had a lift that had broken and had constant need of repair. Now the lift does go up and down but is temperamental when it folds up. Sometimes I had to do a voodoo dance, other times I had to stand on my head, and sometimes I would just give up and manually pump the stupid lift into the up position. Yay, SWEAT! I now call that lift the “wonder lift” because I wonder if its going to work!

Fourth thing that pissed me off was the Nursing Home from HELL! Hell exists, in the form of this nursing home. Hell Nursing Home (HNH) constantly calls transit for one thing or another, then consistently cancels or gets their dates messed up or never has the person who needs transport ready, and expects US to do THEIR jobs, like go and get the person who needs transport from their ROOMS, make sure that they have all their medical things and I think some people assume that WE accompany them into their doctors appointments! We. Don’t. Once HNH had a client they sent with me to their HEART MRI with NO escort. We were halfway there when I glanced at her paperwork and found out that she SHOULD have an escort. Instant abort of the mission.

HNH also schedules outings for very large groups, about half the people in wheelchairs and half are handicapped to the point they really shouldn’t be going out at all, upwards of 12 some odd people at a time. When we get there, HNH typically refuses to help the driver load and secure all the people. Think about it ONE driver, 12 limited functional people, its enough to make anyone go crazy. With a group THAT size, you need 1 (maybe 2) people INSIDE the bus to help the folks get settled (i.e. transfer from wheelchair to seat, fold wheelchairs etc), 1 person to operate the lift and help push people in, and 1 person to help load the lift from the ground. Wash, Rinse, and Repeat at destination. As drivers, we are not supposed to be pulling or pushing or straining ourselves far beyond getting a wheelchair set in the right place or simply buckling a seatbelt. First off, they aren’t OUR patients. We simply transport from point A to point B. If its one person for transport, the load is manageable, but more than one is impossible without help. Folks who cannot handle themselves, need to have escorts with them because we do not provide an escort service.

So back to Friday, I took a different bus with a lift out to HNH to pick up a huge group of people so I wouldn’t have to deal with the “wonder lift”. HNH had a PRN Nurse who helped me out loading and getting people situated, then she got to ride with them all the way to destination. She was absolutely wonderful, but the normal staff of HNH stood around looking dumb except for like one lady who would help load on to the bus. We get to the destination and go back for our second run after unloading everyone from the first run.

During the second run, the lift on the bus started acting up, stopping and starting and being very obnoxious. We get all the way out to the destination for a second time, with the one lady we couldn’t fit on the original trip, and lo and behold, the lift won’t work. I figure no problem; I’ll simply manually operate the lift, get the PRN Nurse back to HNH and simply go back and get another bus. I go to find the bar to manually operate the lift, and there is no bar. So now I’ve got a lady in a wheelchair that wont fit down the aisle so we cant take her out the front door, she cannot walk or get out of her wheelchair and we have to get her off the bus somehow. We grab two very kind and strong men and decide to lower/back her out the emergency back door. I turn the bus around and go to start going up the hill, and the bus will not make it up the hill and dies on me. I then notice the gauges are non responsive on the dashboard, the battery light is on the dash and nothing else is working on the bus. I’m able to back the bus into a parking space where I call bossman. Bossman comes out and tries to get the bus to work. He has me shut the bus off, and then try to restart the bus. It is now completely dead. He took me back to the yard where I picked up the bus with the wonder lift, because it was the largest bus available and headed back out to pick up the group. Wonder lift worked decently for the return trip although return trip I did not have the wonderful PRN Nurse and got bitched at by staff from HNH. The staff also seemingly stood by twiddling their thumbs looking at me like I had three heads when I repeatedly asked them to please help. Instead one of their CLIENTS (a patient with one leg) got up and offered to help. Yes, HE had the decency to see that I needed help with all these other clients, and was absolutely wonderful. When HNH staff saw that HE was helping, they immediately tried to tell him not to help, and he flat out said to them “Well YOU aren’t helping her!” I immediately loved the guy!

During my last trip, HNH staff lady had the nerve to ask me if OTHER places had to help drivers with their clientele. I flat out told her, YOU take a lot of people with you, and there is no way one person can do the job single handedly, so the answer is YES they do have to help. After all that, it was close to 11 pm at night, and I had been awake and working since 6:30 am, with limited breaks totaling maybe 2 hours. I was exhausted, frustrated, and all together seething at HNH. I hadn’t had the opportunity to eat much all day, so I treated myself to a decent dinner. Then I had to turn around and leave at 6:30 am on Saturday morning to work 7 more hours. I didn’t get a break till Saturday afternoon around 2 pm.

Today when I went in, I had to go back out to destination to pick up the dead bus. Maintenance came out and jumped the bus then we charged the battery just enough to get us back to the maintenance shop. I think it was the alternator that died on the bus causing the battery to run down. So, that, in a Nutshell, is what I’ve been dealing with all summer! I can’t wait for August 13!

End Rant,

The Bus Driver

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Busy Busy Busy!!!

I haven't had much of an opportunity to blog, so don't think I've forgotten. I put in 57 hours of work last week alone and have got several more hours this week. Lately my new job has been going very well. I've certainly met many characters who are very very interesting.

Just yesterday I drove a man who is a former senator and who has met Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He also gave me a history lesson on physical therapy in America and spoke to me about never giving up. I meet people from all walks of life and all have been an inspiration to me. They talk, I just listen.

Presently, I'm toying with the idea of writing a book based on my experiences as a bus driver.

On a side note, I am also toying with keeping track of the miles that I travel in the period of one year just as a fun experiment.

Monday, June 8, 2009

School's Out for Summer!


Actually our last day was June 5. I was never happier to see a day in all my life. The new job is going great and I am looking forward to some extra hours. I'll have to blog more later, but right now, dinner is done and I'm rather hungry!

The Bus Driver

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Read Between The Lines

I have come to despise shopping. Yes, shopping. I avoid Wal-Mart like the plague. I have even come to hate stepping into my local grocery store. Why? Because of parents who cannot control their heathen spawns of the devil children. I can live with being recognized as a bus driver, but when your heathen spawn child is running up and down the aisles screaming mommy look it look it look it. Or mommy buy me buy me buy me. Or even granny I want I want I want. It is neither attractive nor appealing for me to listen to while I’m trying to do my shopping in peace.

For instance, today at the grocery store, I happened upon this mother and her devil spawn wonderfully behaved approximately 5 year old child. It was in that dreaded Ice Cream Frozen Treats aisle where this child was incessantly naggingpolitely asking his mother for more freezer pops. His mother told him no less than 5 times once that there was no space in the freezer for more Popsicles, and that he would have to finish the ones they originally bought. Not only that, the child insisted on following ME up the aisle where when I turned around and discovered the heathen sweet little boy, he ran off in the opposite direction back to his mother, while I resisted the urge to run him over with my shopping cart smiled politely and went about my shopping. I encountered him again at the checkout where he was running wildly up and down the checkout lane standing patiently next to his mother while she got the groceries. I resisted the urge to drop loud hints that this mother should put her child on Ritalin smiled politely again and went and paid for my groceries.

Checking Out,

The Bus Driver

Sunday, May 24, 2009

My Scariest Moment

As a Bus Driver, I’ve had a lot of nerve-wracking moments, but none compare to this one. This happened when I was a fairly new bus driver.

I was driving one of the older spare buses on a route and had just finished picking up all the students from the schools. I had a packed bus. Often we have the younger ones sit 3 to a seat, and the older ones sit 2 to a seat. I was heading out towards the route and brought the bus up to about 45 mph. I approached a local intersection and noticed that the stoplight had turned yellow.

I swiftly and firmly applied the brakes attempting to slow and stop the bus packed full of children in order to prevent an accident. I felt the bus slow when the brakes suddenly released and the brake pedal pushed all the way to the floor. The bus had only slowed from 45 to 35. At this point the light had turned red and I saw that there was no way to stop the bus from proceeding through the light.

I pressed on the horn and prayed! We barreled through the red light at 35 mph with my foot on the useless brake praying that either the bus would stop or that we wouldn’t get hurt. Luckily no one was hurt!

I radioed into the bus shop for another bus as the brakes didn’t seem reliable on the bus I was on, and got told to “carefully finish” the route. I was able to keep an eye on my speed and slow the bus appropriately for each stop afterwards, but it was truly scary!

Nine more days!!

The Bus Driver

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Shout out to Middle School Secretary

hey you made your blog to be invited readers only!! i miss your rantings!!! :(

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Adventures in Parking

As a bus driver, I am expected to maneuver the bus into some pretty tight spaces. Often, I find myself in situations where parents seemingly block my access to an area where I need to be, or they tend to tailgate the bus, which then creates several traffic problems. While I don’t mind if parents follow the bus in order to get to a destination, I do wish that parents would tend to think a little bit ahead of the bus and be courteous if we have to turn around in tight spaces.

With that said, I took the local third grade classes to the Museum of Science and History in a nearby town. It was about a 2-hour drive, and quite pleasant up until the major construction on the road and massive traffic towards the city. I had been assigned this field trip in early October, so I had been looking forward to this field trip all year. We arrive at the museum without incident and I pull around a tight roundabout and pull into the museum driveway. The driveway leads into a small circle and is bordered by the museum on the right, a park at the head of the circle and a fairly large parking lot on the left. The intersection the museum sits on can be best described as a lowercase “t” with a circle at the top of the “t” and a circle where the two lines intersect.

Anyhow, I pull up and around the intersection and stop to unload children in front of the museum. Mind you, every OTHER bus had done this as well. Unfortunately, the parents following me had created a bottleneck situation in the intersection. My tail end was out of the intersection and NOT blocking traffic. They called Security to tell me to move. I simply told Security that I would move when we were done unloading the children. The teachers took their sweet time in unloading all the children off the bus all the while; I had parents sitting on my rear end.

At the top of the “t” there was the circle that lead into the park, I could have turned the bus around in there except that parents had parked all along the circle making it increasingly difficult to maneuver a very large vehicle around. I did the next best thing; I pulled INTO the parking lot in search for a space to park the beast. I was initially told that someone would tell me where to park, but alas, the kids unloaded, the teachers disappeared and I was stuck trying to find a solution. I noted all buses that were lined up along the street side of the parking lot and that there was no available space there. I noted one other bus that had parked IN the parking lot. So I assumed that it would be ok to park there. I pull into the parking lot and manage to take up only TWO spaces with this monster of a bus. I noted signs along the outer edge of the parking lot that stated clearly “Museum parking only.” I secured the bus and wandered into the museum.

I notify the front that I’m the bus driver with XYZ group and they wave me into the museum. I’m about halfway through an exhibit (my one and only exhibit of the day) when an employee finds me and tells me I’m needed at the front desk. I’m thinking, “Ok, they forgot to give me a ticket into see XYZ show or whatever.” So I call the front desk on my cell phone. The museum informs me that the parking lot across the small little circle is NOT owned by the museum and that I have to move my bus. The lady also informs me that the bus is about to receive a ticket for parking in the wrong place.

I run down to the front desk and inquire as to where I should park the monster bus. The lady tells me that the buses can be parked “underneath the bridge” down the street. Now, the distance from the museum to the bridge parking area is about the length of TWO Wal-Mart parking lots. There is a marina in between the original parking lot and the bridge parking lot. Confused yet? I was. THEN the museum informs me, “Oh, by the way, the parking lot owner called a tow truck.”

Holy Shit Batman!

Panic-stricken, I ran walked swiftly out the door praying that the bus was still in one piece and untouched. I could hear the conversation in my head.

Bus Driver: Hi Mr. Bossman Sir, we’re on a field trip in XYZ city and well, the bus is sort of at the impound lot and we’re stranded.

Bossman: What?!!?

Yeah, that would NOT go over well!

Luckily, the bus was still in the place I left it. There was no ticket stuck on the door or shoved on the windshield and there was no tow truck in sight. Feeling quite relieved, I maneuvered the bus around to the “appropriate” parking lot. As I entered the parking lot under the bridge, a large sign greeted me and informed me that the parking lot was a “Park ‘N Ride” parking lot and that only those with permits would be allowed to park there. Suffice to say, I didn’t bother leaving my bus for the rest of the day and sat in silence waiting for the children to enjoy their time at the Museum. I took that time to inform my boss of the situation so that there would be no surprises on Monday.

Thankfully Ticketless,

The Bus Driver

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Coming Soon....

More crazy and wacky stories from the school bus. The end of the school year is coming like a freight train with our last day being on June 5, and the summer looming ahead as a sea of tranquility with no screaming animals children to transport on a daily basis.

I've been kept busy running from one place to another and have hardly had a chance to breathe. I could be posting about the fabulous chocolate cake I consumed the other week while waiting for 6th grade band to toot and tweet their way through an invitational band clinic, or I could talk about the wonderful cookout food we had on the day on the river at a local 8th grade history field trip. Or about the upcoming 3rd grade trip to the Museum of Science and History this Friday.

Today, I had some unexpected and very much needed news. I have secured a second job for this summer and possibly into the next school year. I will be driving for the local transit system during the time I'm not on the bus. The job doesn't pay the best, but its a step in the doorway to possible opportunities. I love my job driving the school bus and wouldn't trade it, besides, the stories I come away with from the bus are unbelieveable (and somewhat insane)!!!! So, fear not readers, the year is almost out and this bus driver will be available far more for fun blogging and I'll definitely be working on queueing up some very interesting posts.

Speeding along!

The Bus Driver

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Field Trip Qualifications

JudyL posted a comment in one of my blogs posing several questions:

“On the subject of Field Trips, what qualifies a driver to do trips in your District? Are all NEW employee's allowed to do trips or do you have a time set for them to become more experienced and familiar with your highways, night driving and so forth?”

In my particular district, once a bus driver has a license to drive a bus, they are qualified to haul children. We complete at least 40 hours of training, with at least 28 hours in the classroom and 12 total hours of driving time. This driving time is split into two 6-hour sections. We have to drive 6 hours without children, which gets us acclimated to driving a very large vehicle. Then we drive 6 hours with children on the bus, which tests how we handle more stress. We are also required to have CDL class B licenses with Passenger and School Bus endorsements. We also have to pass the Air Brakes test at the DMV as well before we can even get behind the wheel.

No amount of training can fully prepare you for all the conditions you will experience as a bus driver. On the subject of field trips, in my district, we have field trip sign-ups once a year. Any new drivers can sign up for the field trip list as long as they have all their qualifications in place and they are considered full time employees. We usually have a small group of “Floaters” who are considered full time employees and the rest of the newcomers are considered Substitutes. The difference between the groups is that a Floater gets a salary and health insurance benefits, where as a Substitute comes in only as needed and gets paid only if they work. My district has approximately 5-7 full time Floater positions in addition to full time Driver positions. A Floater is a permanent full time substitute.

The sign up for field trips usually occurs around mid March and have 3 different options for drivers to choose. We have 3 types of field trips: Mid-Day, After School/Overnight, and Summer. I sign up for all three. Some of the more experienced drivers in my district don’t like that just anyone who is qualified can sign up for field trips. They feel a waiting period should be in place. In my case, I got my license in October and was able to sign up the following March for field trips. I had about 4 months of driving experience under my belt before I signed up for field trips.

This only details what my district does about field trips and doesn’t reflect on other districts in my state.

Chugging Along,

The Bus Driver

Monday, April 20, 2009

I have so much to update

I have so much to update, but very limited time at the moment, but you can look forward to posts about my repair guy fiasco and the new unexpected overnight trip.. which happens tomorrow... and i found out about it today.

We just got off of spring break and have about 7 more weeks (34 days) of school left. I'm counting those days. I will update soon I promise!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

April Fools, Necessary Items, and the Unexpected Day Off.

Well incase you haven’t figured out, the post below is actually a grand April Fools Joke orchestrated by Mr. Teacher over at Learn Me Good. For one day, a group of bloggers “traded places” and it was met with mixed results. The post featured on my blog was actually written by Ms. Teacher. If you want to view my post for April Fools, head on over to 100 Farmers and read up on Bugspray, Sandgnats, and the Zoo. Mr. Teacher has posted a full list of bloggers who participated.

A Bus Driver Bag is essential for all bus drivers. Yes, I keep a bag filled with items that a bus driver should keep handy at all times. These items include, but are not limited to, a Poncho/Umbrella, Bugspray, Sunscreen, a good Book, various pens/pencils, a Hat, a functional Calendar, Water, and anything else that a bus driver might need.

Most of the items are common sense items, but they are essential to the survival of a bus driver. You never know when you might get caught without any of those items and desperately need it at the place and time.

On Friday, we had an unexpected day off due to inclement weather. We had major rainfall over the course of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and the roads were fairly poor condition. Additionally, there were several roads closed due to major flooding. We’re still recovering from the massive rain, and are scheduled for more tonight into tomorrow. This was the first time the school district had decided to close school due to the weather. I’m glad they did, it allowed me to do some much needed errands and pay some bills that had been pushed to the side.

Sopping Wet,

The Bus Driver

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

It's the fault of the Big, Bad Teachers Unions!

Friday nights you can usually catch me watching "Real Time with Bill Maher." About two weeks ago as I watched Bill Maher, he started talking about teachers and teachers unions. It came quite as a shock to me when I heard him basically bash teachers unions, stating that it was the fault of these unions for allowing bad teachers to stay in the classroom.

Like I said, I was shocked. For me, I know what the reality is in my district when it comes to getting rid of bad teachers and I also know that my reality is the reality for a lot of teachers in their districts. Simply put, administrators are in charge of getting rid of bad teachers and they simply do not do it. I think that for some administrators in my district part of the problem is that it is not easy to get teachers to work in our district. The other part of the problem is administrators are overworked not underpaid and so following the procedures to get rid of a bad teacher is just one more thing for them to do.

The thing to keep in mind though is that it is the responsibility of administrators to get rid of ineffective and/or bad teachers. It is not the responsibility of the union or teachers. I've worked with bad teachers, some of whom were paid more than me, and yet they continue to work because the administrator won't do what it is necessary to get rid of them.

In California, administrators can get rid of any teacher for any reason within their first two years of teaching. This is what is called a non-reelect and for many teachers it is almost a kiss of death in terms of trying to find another teaching position. Within those first two years, the union cannot do anything to help the teachers receiving a non-reelect. (I've seen non-reelects given simply because the principal did not like a teacher.)

After that first two years is up, teacher are given tenure. In my district, teachers receive evaluations every other year under Process B. If teachers receive a satisfactory review, they are then not up for review for another year. However, if they receive an unsatisfactory review, then teachers fall under Process A (the review for new teachers w/in their first two years of teaching). This process requires the administrator to evaluate the teacher every year. Teachers who fall back under Process A are also required to work with a consulting teacher under our PAR program (Peer Assistance and Review). If a teacher fails to improve under Process A, the administrator can elect to "fire" the teacher. However, very few teachers in the state of California or even in my district are fired.

Some will point to this fact and state that is because of teachers unions. However, according to David Macaray, teachers in non-union states also have a very low rate of being fired by their administrators. It would seem that if unions were the problem, then those states without unions would have a higher rate of letting ineffective and/or bad teachers go. That is simply not the case.

The hard reality for administrators is that people are not beating down the door to be teachers, especially in a district such as mine where we are the lowest paid, yet work in the toughest district. They understand that getting a teacher to fill positions that are hard to fill is easier said than done. For some administrators and districts, they prefer a warm body to nobody.

I wrote about a teacher at my own school site that everybody knew was a horribly, bad teacher. Yet, year after year, he stayed teaching at my school site. It was only when he was arrested that the district fired him. He was still allowed to have due process as defined by our contract, however, we (as in the union) did not block the efforts of our district to get rid of this guy. In fact, if the proper protocols had been followed as defined under our evaluation process, I think it is safe for me to say that the union would not have blocked those efforts as well because we simply do not have that power.

The power to get rid of bad teachers lies at the feet of administrators. As a teacher and as a member of my union, I do not have that power. Bill Maher needs to understand these facts before he starts spouting off on something that in which he is clearly clueless.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Tribute to a fallen Bus Driver

On Friday, some shocking news rippled its way through the bus shop. Early in the morning, one of our fellow colleagues, Mr. P, was gripped by stabbing chest pain. Best anyone can gather at this point, he was on his morning route and the symptoms came on suddenly. He had enough wits about him to stop and secure the bus and radio for help from the bus shop requesting someone come out and finish his route so he could seek medical attention.

Mr. P’s wife called the ambulance shortly and they raced him to the hospital. When they got there, his health declined quickly and they made the decision to airlift him to a larger hospital by helicopter. He suffered a massive heart attack in the helicopter on the way to the larger hospital and passed away en-route.

Mr. P was a kindhearted man who always put others before himself. He was a husband, father, and grandfather. He supported his family through the pay he earned as a bus driver. He never had a bad word to say about anyone else. He was a truly humble man who did the best he could in life. His passing was sudden and unexpected. Please keep his family in prayer.

Rest in peace Mr. P. You will be missed!

The Bus Driver

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Write Ups and Parents

After reading an article about a child getting suspended off the bus for excessive flatulence, I realized I hadn’t explained what sort of things a child can get written up for on a school bus. I explained the common rules found on a bus here. On our “Bus Conduct” forms there are 10 check boxes. Nine of them have common violations listed, but there is one check box always left blank with several lines for the bus driver to write in the offense. Most of us opt to write in the offense along with checking off several of the other boxes.

A child can get written up for the following and any variation of the following:

1. Violation of Safety Procedures

This includes standing on the seats, walking up and down the aisle while the bus is moving, changing seats, and not staying in assigned seat.

2. Destruction of Property

This is self-explanatory, but includes defacing school property by tearing, mutilating or otherwise damaging the seats, walls, floors and ceiling of the bus.

3. Fighting – Pushing – Tripping

They lump these three together and we are expected to circle the appropriate offense on a student-by-student basis. These are pretty obvious offenses.

4. Excessive Mischief

This goes hand in hand with the Violation of Safety Procedures and includes crawling under the seats, making noises deliberately for the distraction of the driver.

5. Writing/Smoking

Again self-explanatory offenses.

6. Insubordination

Not following the rules and being difficult.

7. Eating – Drinking – Littering


8. Rude – Discourteous – Annoying


9. Unacceptable Language

Yeah, no swearing allowed!!!!!!

10. Other – Describe.

We most commonly use this checkbox to describe the incident.

Even with all this, we still get parents who complain. A common grievance we get from parents is “Why did YOU give my child X days off the bus?” Fortunately we don’t actually make the decisions on what each child gets as punishment for the infractions we write up. The school makes that decision, yet still, we get parents who insist it is still our fault.

To those parents who say “Not my child, he/she goes to church/can do no wrong!” I say this: I warned your child several times. I pulled the videotape of the incident and watched it. In some cases, my boss watches it as well. The administrator of the school has watched the tape. The tape never lies. Additionally there are typically witnesses. Fellow students squeal like stuck pigs when its not them getting in trouble. They are perfectly happy to throw another student under the bus in order to save their own skins. So please understand that when your child got 3-5-10 day bus suspension, it is entirely your child’s fault, not the bus drivers’.

Writing away!

The Bus Driver

Friday, March 13, 2009

Speeding Drivers, The Warning, and The Spontaneous Insanity.

The week started out pretty typically. The usual announcements to the SAME people who NEVER turn in their paperwork were, again, announced over the radio to everybody. I mean come on people; we are NOT children anymore who do not do our homework. Please just complete your paperwork for the Love of God! Then, in the same breath, the secretary announces that there is a meeting for all Field Trip Drivers.

Oh goody, WHAT do we have to do now? The last meeting was just them adding MORE paperwork onto our payroll sheets. First it was adding a long 27 digit number to the payroll sheets, then it was attaching the field trip FORM to the payroll sheets, then we have to do our fire and evacuation drill on EVERY field trip AND get a roster of students from all coaches/teachers. So, when this announcement happened, the first thought to my mind was what next? Are we going to have to stand on our heads and recite the ABC’s backwards?!

I dutifully go into the bus shop and wait for the meeting to begin. The Bossman comes in and proceeds to chew us out for speeding and for showing up late to field trips. It is already required that we show up 15 minutes prior to the departure time on our field trip sheets, now its required that we show up 20 minutes prior to the departure time. Speeding is a whole different ball game though.

The federal law mandates that a school bus cannot exceed 55 mph when traveling at “highway speeds.” If a bus is traveling within a town, the bus cannot exceed 45 mph, keeping in mind all speed limits in between. Years ago our buses were set (governed) at 55 mph exactly. That means the bus could not go past 55 mph. They changed it to 60 mph to allow buses to pass motorists going slower than 55 mph. As the newer buses kept coming in, they governed the speed at 65 mph, to compare with some of the fast 70 mph highway speeds we have here as well as giving buses extra “oomph.” Apparently the Bossman had been getting a few too many phone calls of drivers speeding and being unsafe. Instead of reprimanding just those FEW drivers who break the rules, the Bossman reprimands ALL of us. He set the gauntlet and told us if he had one more call or saw another driver speeding, that he would have all the maintenance guys govern the buses down to 55 mph again. Guess what happened on Thursday? Bossman got passed by one of our bus drivers doing over 65 mph. NOW our buses are governed at 55 mph. In my opinion, they SHOULD have been governed at 55 mph in the FIRST place. Again common sense is NOT present.

However, it was NOT me who was speeding on Thursday. Where was I? I was on a spontaneous insane excursion with my best friend. She called me up Thursday morning and asked me if I wanted to come along to a nearby big city (about 2 hrs away) and go pick up some items with her. I said sure, I’ll drive, you pay the gas and off we went. Sketchy parts of town with construction areas are definitely my idea of a good time. So is a jewelry store that looks like a pawnshop on the outside. We also almost got put on a local radio network when we got lost and turned around. It was nearing 12:30, and we knew it was going to be difficult to get back in town to get to work on time, so we devised a plan that we would try to call out separately for different reasons at different times and then plan to spend the rest of the afternoon goofing off and having fun. I went first as I had the earlier start time. I have to be at work for 2 pm and she has a 3rd wave bus that doesn’t begin until after 2:45 pm. I played sick and got the afternoon off. She couldn’t because there were already too many drivers out. Apparently I was the last one who could be out. DAMN, foiled! Anyhow, such began our RACE back to town so SHE could be on time. We literally pulled 80 mph going down the highway trying to get back to town after sitting in construction and dealing with idiot people all day. We cut it close because we stopped to see her husband on the way down. Her husband works for a big soda company driving one of their trucks. We left the big city somewhere between 12:45 and 1, and we somehow made it back into town by 2:10 pm, drove through Mc Donald’s for lunch, and then dropped her off at her bus so she could go to work. She barely made it. I had the rest of the afternoon off. The best part about this day is that I learned that my best friend is absolutely insane. She kept me in stitches with her stories about her rebel teen years including her near death experience with a snowplow.

We've also decided that one day we both need to just take the afternoon off and just hang out together.


The Bus Driver

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Planetarium and Chick-Fil-A

Today I took the gifted 2nd and 3rd graders to a local area museum and planetarium. I have wonderful memories of the planetarium near where I grew up and assumed this would be similar, just smaller scale. The place was easy to find as it was on a college campus. The museum was located near the center of the campus and the planetarium was just a short walk away in the mathematics and physics building.

As a kid, the planetarium always gathered lots of adoration and excitement. We often explored the science museum for 3-4 hours prior to standing in line to enter the planetarium theater. While standing in line, there were always these cool lights that caused all white pieces of clothing to “glow” neon blue. The presentation inside the planetarium was educational and informational. So, today, when I discovered we’d be going to a planetarium, I was very excited to see it and compare to the one I knew as a kid.

We arrived about 9 am and the kids took in the museum first. I wandered the campus and peeked in the museum. It was nothing spectacular or impressive – just a few tables of artifacts and like 2 interactive exhibits. I walked on over to the planetarium and discovered a pretty neat lab of about 30 feet wide with a domed top. The small scale for a small university was expected. I briefly met the planetarium presenter (FrootLoop) before the children started trickling into the building. My impressions first off were that she was a little batty and somewhat scatterbrained, but I thought she would have it together for a presentation to 2nd and 3rd graders. I was wrong.

The presentation was absolutely AWFUL! FrootLoop began with reprimanding her two college student “assistants” in front of the children. She then insisted on rambling more about the space station and upcoming night sky events (along with other planetarium propaganda/fodder) and space exploration through NASA rather than point out a few constellations, speaking about the stars, and then conducting a “Solar System Walk”. She used a lot of words that were way over the education level of a 2nd and 3rd grader. I could tell that most of the kids were being polite, but were getting really restless after her third different explanation of the Greek Mythic History of the stars and their origins. The teacher kept asking about different parts of the program (Solar System Walk) and FrootLoop answered, “We’ll do that later…” or “But first I want to tell you about this real quick…”

I wandered out of the planetarium about 11:20 am as the teacher wanted to be on the road about 11:30 and I wanted to get back to the bus with time to unlock and sweep it off a bit before the children ambushed the bus in a mad dash to get away from the place. The teacher boarded the bus and as she sat down she remarked to me, “That was absolutely awful!” When I questioned her about it, she stated, “The whole day was one long boring lecture.”

Apparently, the museum gave them a really long lecture about Native American artifacts and they didn’t have an opportunity to complete the activity they really wanted to do which was a simulated fossil dig, classification, and identification activity. Then as they wandered over to the planetarium, the teacher was simply expecting about a 15-20 minute presentation that would include the simple things such as the make up of stars, 3-5 constellations, pointing out the Milky Way, and then talking about the order of the solar system before going outside and doing a “Solar System Walk” in which they get to actively distance out the solar system on a small scale. Instead, she got FrootLoop and her assistants who slept through most of her lecture. FrootLoop also insisted on showing the kids her necklace made from the rock of something in space. I left prior to that catastrophe.

The museum provided the children with “Grab Bags” of useless toys, trinkets, and annoying noisemaker whistles. Apparently the museum even messed this up too and didn’t have enough of the type of bags they were supposed to have. I think there were three different types of bags a teacher could request.

We headed over to a Chick-Fil-A for lunch and then went back to the school. As we were driving back, the teacher and I continued to discuss the poor quality of the field trip, and she mentioned, “I’d have to say, the best thing about today was going to Chick-Fil-A and having you as a driver.” Overall, the educational value of the fieldtrip bombed, but the kids I hauled today were the most well behaved children I’ve EVER hauled on a field trip. I made it a point to tell the teacher that I was incredibly impressed with their wonderful behavior. I think she is going to try to request me as a driver for future trips. We’ll see how that pans out.

Bleary Eyed,

The Bus Driver

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Ok, so the month of February has turned out to be busier than expected and every time I would get a minute to sit down and blog, it wouldn’t happen.

We had winter break just after Valentine’s Day, although it didn’t seem like much of a break as my grandparents came to visit, then I had two field trips over the course of the break. I learned that Applebees has good food to go and the couple times I’ve asked them to deliver it to the bus, they’ve acquiesced. All things considered, my life has been extremely busy.

Being a floater again is like walking on air. Yes I get the few kids that drive me nuts, but then I don’t have to see them again for at least another 2 weeks. My voice has remained intact and the stress level has decreased quite a bit. When I’m stressed, I’ve learned I lose my voice. Losing your voice on a busload of children is NOT a good thing.

There have been some changes up at the bus garage, starting with the field trips. I’ve now become an airline attendant before every field trip. We have to give a little speech about the proper fire escape procedures to some very rude and obnoxious children who insist on not paying attention. I keep tweaking my speech to include things I forgot to cover in the last group. The bus shop didn’t really give us any real guidelines, so I suppose it’s as long or short as the driver wants it to be. We’re also supposed to collect rosters from the schools prior to actually going on the trip. The coaches and teachers must have the rosters on the bus and must give us a copy. I actually like these new guidelines because it gives us a little more control over the situation, plus we actually know whom we are hauling to and from events.

I had a field trip on Friday taking the local 6th grade middle school kids to the movie theater. Yes, that’s right the movie theater. I had heard we were going to see Coraline, but we ended up seeing Ink Heart. I don’t know WHAT the educational value of each of these movies is, but it wasted 3 hours on a Friday. Ink Heart was actually a decent movie starring Brendan Frasier and a few other unknown people. The premise of the movie was somewhat interesting and completely engulfed in fantasy. Again, I question the educational value. This is the time of year we typically get a lot of the “stupid” field trips that have little or no education behind them.

Overall, it’s been a good month and hopefully I’ll be able to blog more in March.
In Like A Lion,
The Bus Driver

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Holidays that Bus Drivers Love to Hate

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.

Sugar High,

The Bus Driver

Monday, February 2, 2009

Seatbelts and the Backpack Rant

I seem to be doing alot of topics in two's, so in keeping with tradition......

A popular topic as of late that is debated year after year is the issue of seatbelt restraints on school buses. Most states have laws where Special Education buses and smaller buses - half the size of a normal 72-100-passenger school bus - are required to have some form of seatbelt restraints installed. People often ask why seatbelts are not required for the larger buses especially given the “cargo” we transport daily. There is no doubt in my mind that seatbelts save lives, however a seatbelt restraint system in a large school bus while theoretically is a good idea, is largely impractical to implement.

First, there is the practicality of getting all the children seated and buckled. On a Special Ed bus, an aide rides along and ensures the children stay seated and firmly buckled. Additionally, on a larger bus, there is only one driver that handles all the children. Putting seatbelts on a bus only increases the possibility that they be used as weapons against peers. (Miss Bus Driver…..Little Joey choked/hit me with the seatbelt!!!) Also if the bus gets in a crash or otherwise needs to be evacuated quickly, some children may get stuck by the seatbelt. Many children don’t have the dexterity and strength it requires to press the seatbelt buckle. They may also be injured to the point of immobility. It then becomes the bus driver’s responsibility to free and rescue that child with a seatbelt cutter. Multiply the mayhem and insanity on a regular day times 100 and you’ve got what happens in an accident. As a driver, I don’t want that added responsibility on my shoulders.

I digress.

Backpacks are the fashion statement from hell. You may think it’s cute to send little James to school with a Spiderman backpack or little Mary to school with a Dora the Explorer book bag. What I see is the multitudes of paper your sweet child will dump all over the floor of my bus, which I have to clean, if the paper has not flown all over the bus and ends up crumpled or in my face while I’m driving. Also, I’m sick of picking up Joshua’s or Janie’s pencil that they forgot on the bus for the MILLIONTH time. They call it HOME-work for a reason! I swear I should charge a dime for every pencil the kids want to “borrow” from my cup of pencils that I’ve accumulated. I have to clean out the pencil cup at least 3 times a year to keep it from busting at the seams with pencils, pens, crayons, erasers, and other items I find on the bus floor.

Also those backpacks with wheels on it are the worst invention/fad EVER. It’s obnoxious enough when your child insists on taking EVERYTHING out of his backpack during a 15 minute ride and then has to hold the whole bus up when we’re at his stop waiting for your little cherub to wander up the aisle and waddle off the bus holding 20 million papers, but when your child insists on trying to wheel the backpack down the narrow aisle, getting it stuck on every seat along the way and holding up the route while they wrestle the stupid bag into the seat they’ve chosen, at the BACK of the bus, only to wash, rinse, repeat at school, here’s a little hint…. THE WHEELIE BACKPACKS DON’T FIT DOWN THE AISLE OF A SCHOOL BUS --- DON’T BUY

Toys should be banned from the school bus. Especially toys that are round, or have wheels that make the toy move easily along the floor. Please teach your children that the school bus is not a playground and the seat is for sitting in, not playing with toys and being obnoxious. For the Love of God, please, please, please lock your children’s backpack and offer your child’s teacher a key. Then maybe you’ll actually GET that field trip permission form that didn’t end up in the garbage of the school bus.

Up next!! Obnoxious Children!

The Bus Driver