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