Friday, December 24, 2010

Bathing A Cat

So this post is a deviation from my normal ranting about the school bus, but this was too funny not to share.

I chose last night to venture into the little known territory that is "Cat Bathing". I currently am a servant to two spoiled felines. Jake, my boycat, looks like he's swallowed a basketball he's so chubby. He is currently on a weight loss diet per vet orders. He is declawed and extremely friendly. Heck, if you just set food in front of him, he'd love you for life. PJ, my girlcat, is my dainty female feline companion. She loathes water and has a general disdain for everything. She keeps herself quite clean. Jake, on the other hand, needs a little help in the cleaning department.

Occasionally I've needed to rinse him down to help his skin from being so itchy, but recently he's been getting bald spots from where fleas or other irritants are plaguing his skin. His skin is quite sensitive and he reacts to any feline immunizations he receives too. The immunizations also cause bald spots, especially frequent where he cannot groom himself effectively. Well, the spots had gotten so bad, that I made the folly of deciding to bathe him.

I prepared myself for the battle. I bought Johnson and Johnson's baby shampoo, grabbed a clean towel from the closet, removed the litterbox from the area so it wouldn't track if wet cat got in it, and settled on finding Jake for his torture... erm... bath.....

I wrangle the basketball into the bathtub and perch him on a seat in the tub. I turn on the water and douse the victim.... cat.... thoroughly. I grab the baby shampoo and open it and squeeze. Nothing comes out. I realize, halfway through struggling with a wet cat, running water, and the bottle... that the bottle is SEALED. Yep. Regular shampoo is unsealed, but Johnson's baby shampoo is sealed tight. I try everything I can to keep the cat in place on the seat while trying to twist open the bottle top. I knocked over my regular shampoo whilst trying to open the bottle over the squirming and yowling Jake. I finally manage to get the bottle top off the bottle, to find the seal impossible to break without fingernails or a good sharp object. I stick the bottle in my mouth intending to only just barely pop the seal to peel the top off, Jake squirms and attempts an escape, and while attempting to catch him, I squeeze the now popped sealed bottle in my mouth resulting in a wonderful mouthful of Johnson's baby shampoo.

Exasperated, I practically dumped the contents of the bottle on Jake and quickly lathered him up, much to his chagrin. At this point, he's yowling in protest while I rinse off the shampoo. In trying to get his belly, I get soaked in the process. He's still trying to make a break for it and he's still SLIPPERY. I finally rinse off all the shampoo and grab the towel to dry him off. He is giving me the death stare. I dried him as effectively as I could, stripped off my wet clothes and called it done.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the story of Jake's bath.

The Bus Driver

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Thanksgiving Miracle

Just when we are gearing up for the holidays, the unimaginable happens.

A child, injured by the school bus, having fallen under the rear wheels.

People scrambling to find out what happened.

Fingers are starting to point.

Did he push her?

Did she play around?

Is it the bus drivers fault?

Video shows the drama unfolding.

People stare in disbelief that this could happen to anyone at one of the safest places around, school.

Tears are shed, prayers sent up, as the child is loaded into the ambulance and whisked away by helicopter life flight.

Radio silence.


Is this happening?

Is it real?

The questions start to come flooding in.

More prayers.

What will happen to the bus driver?

Will it ever return to normal?

A Thanksgiving Miracle occurs and the 15 year old girl is OK.

She suffers only internal bruising and is sent home for the holiday.

Things change at the High School forever.


This really happened.

Stay Safe, Arrive Alive,

The Bus Driver.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A little story about L-O-V-E.

Stupid attends a local community college and is currently trying to obtain his GED. There is nothing wrong with going for higher education, but he is doing this between getting high on drugs and drunk off alcohol all while cultivating his own little love triangle. Not exactly the "higher" education I would have chosen. Stupid currently has two children by two different mothers in two different states. Stupid has a third girlfriend who is an off again on again smoker and who also antagonizes Stupid.

I get the pleasure of interacting with Stupid on a weekly basis as he rides transit to and from school. Stupid has an anger problem as well and has tried to put his fist through a cement pillar. I have news for everyone, the pillar won that battle. I also transport another lady to and from the college. She is smart and has a good head on her shoulders and a goal in life.

Anyhow, every day there is a different story about how one babymama doesn't like Stupid or about how the other babymama is preventing him from seeing his child. Apparently his lack of brain cells hasn't figured out that the two women likely realize that Stupid will never provide for his children, so they have found other people to provide for the children. So to complete this love triangle, he picks up a girlfriend at the college. They seem to have an argument at every turn, usually involving her quitting smoking and him "catching" her lying about quitting.

One of the early exchanges we had about this new "girlfriend" of his went as follows:

Stupid: Ms BusDriver, Me and girlfriend had a fight and we broke up.

Me: Aw, Sorry to hear that. (trying to sound indifferent)

Stupid: Yeah it just hurts, I really don't want to lose this one. I love this one too much.

Me: Aww that's too bad, how long have you been together?

Stupid: (while he counts on his fingers) Ummmmmm 6 days?

Yes ladies and gentlemen... this man is up for grabs!

Fast forward to last week when he boarded the bus and told me that the 6 day relationship was officially over. He was lamenting on how he wished it would work out and how he now has to find another girlfriend. I'm giving him the usual non committal "mmmhmm's and yeah?'s" when from the back, the other client (who has also been listening to Stupid constantly) speaks up with:

Client: Have you ever thought about being single for a while?

Smart Women for the WIN!

The Bus Driver

Friday, September 17, 2010

Rock, Paper, Scissors .... Tornado?!

Its been a whirlwind month and a half back at work and we are still going full speed ahead. We are so shorthanded, its hard to get any breathing room! This blog will be long, so bear with me!

One thing I've noticed is that children respond very well to praise for positive behavior. I've taken to asking for a volunteer every morning to check the bus for sleeping children and making sure everyone is awake and gets off the bus. This is usually at the elementary school, and most of those kids LOVE to get picked to do a job. I also make it a point to thank them and point them out to the teacher on duty so that they may get some public praise. They soak it up!

Parents are also out in full force. Just today, I had two separate parents tell me how they don't understand why the bus goes two different directions. Unfortunately, this particular bus does not have a regular consistent driver and is at the mercy of substitutes. One parent wants the bus to do it one way, the other parent can't seem to be satisfied no matter what we do. Listen people, if you have a problem with the bus, get in your fancy schmancy little car and drive your happy little butt to the school, wait in line with all the other picky parents and drop off/pick up your own darn child from school. Trust me, we really don't mind that your child won't be riding the bus as your child is probably just as a pain in the butt as you are!

In other parent news, last year, I wrote about a parent who rolled his eyes at me. Well this parent is also back in full force. All last year whenever I drove that bus, he would stand with his arms crossed and his face all red from being mad at me and the bus. I'm not the only driver who experiences his anger either. Another driver told him to get his daughter (high school age) a car, and let HER drive. I wish I had been on the bus that day! Anyhow, I've had the lovely experience of driving that route twice in the last two weeks. The regular bus driver had a field trip both times and was unavailable to drive the bus.

The first time I drove, I ended up getting caught at the railroad tracks for about 10 minutes. It put me behind going to the high school to pick up the final load of children and of course, naturally, made HIS children LATE. Apparently, he called the bus shop, and cussed out the secretaries at the shop for the bus being late with HIS children. I received a call over the CB radio telling me to avoid any interaction with him and to refer him to the big bossman. I had no idea that he had used vile language with the secretaries. He tried to get my attention that day, but I simply ignored him. Unfortunately, due to the train, AND the fact that I do not drive as fast as the regular driver, his children were about 15-20 minutes late. I think they usually get dropped around 3:55-4 pm, where I dropped them about 4:15 that day.

Earlier this week, I drove that bus again and was not held up by a train this time, but had a child who face planted in the aisle (that's another blog!) I wasn't even held up by much anything except children getting off the bus. I still managed to get HIS children home between 4:05 and 4:07. He was as mad as ever. He came to the drivers side window and asked me when I'd be driving the bus again. I told him I didn't know. He then told me that I should call him when I'm driving, because HIS children WON'T be riding when I drive because I'm ALWAYS late. Yep, its MY responsibility to let him know and its MY fault I'm late?!?! Wonderful. I have no intentions of telling him anything and he can take it up with my bossman.

On a lighter note, the following exchange happened between two boys on the bus this afternoon:

Boy1 to Boy2: Let's play Rock, Paper, Scissors!

Boy2: Ok!

Boy1: Ready? Rock, Paper, Scissors!

Boy2: What's that? (staring at Boy1's hand)

Boy1: A tornado!!!! (makes whirling motion with his hand in the shape of a tornado)

Tornado's beat everything!

Whirling around!

The Bus Driver

Thursday, August 26, 2010

How to run a successful Field Trip and other news.

It has been nearly a full three weeks since school started and the children (and bus drivers) are back in full swing. The first week back was actually a really nice change of pace since we have all the elementary students (pre-k through 5th grade) getting off at the same school. Its been working out really well on our end.

That being said, its that season again. The season of fall field trips to pumpkin patches, Halloween parties, and other various fall activities. Here are a few pointers that will help make your field trip run smoothly if you are the coordinator.

1. Make sure you have submitted the proper paperwork to the bus barn/garage in sufficient enough time for the bus barn to secure a driver and bus for the trip. In this paperwork should be the location of pick up, the time of pick up, whether or not lunches are to be picked up/included, and any other essential information such as a destination. Also, you should include a time for drop off back at the school. Keep in mind, most bus drivers have to return in enough time to complete their afternoon routes.

2. When you board the bus at the time of the field trip, make sure you coordinate with the driver and confirm that the driver has the paperwork you submitted stating the destination and times. Make sure you have a roster that has the names of the students you are taking on the trip along with emergency contacts for each student and give a copy to the bus driver. If the bus is in an accident, this roster can be very handy to have.

3. Bring directions. Don't automatically assume that the bus driver knows how to get to all destinations you put on your trip request. Having directions and/or a map printout can be very handy.

4. Preach and practice bus safety. Before you get on the bus with your group of students, go over the bus rules and regulations. This way there is no surprises for children when the bus driver asks them to be quiet at the railroad crossings or tells them to sit properly in the seats. The bus driver may also go over the emergency exits on the bus and explain how to use them at the time of the trip.

5. Meals. Coordinate with the lunchroom if they are going to pack your class bag lunches, or ensure that every student has sufficient money to purchase their own lunch at the destination. Don't forget the bus driver. A simple meal is very much appreciated by many bus drivers especially when we wait on the group as they do the activity. A simple sandwich with fruit and milk can make all the difference and is warmly received.

6. Contact information for the bus driver. Don't hesitate to ask the bus driver for their contact information when you get to a destination. I often provide my cell phone number for teachers/coaches riding my bus that way when the group wants to board the bus again, they have a way of contacting me. Don't assume that the bus driver will stay in one place while your group does the activity. Often activities last longer than 2-3 hours and bus drivers will often go and visit with other bus drivers, shopping, or to a nearby restaurant and may not be readily available at a moments notice. It is a good idea to give us about a 15 minute notice before your group ends the activity, that way we can be ready for you.

7. Be ready for inclement weather. Plan accordingly.

8. Have fun and when in doubt, ask the bus driver.

If you follow these steps, you are likely to have a very successful field trip/activity.

Happy tripping!

The Bus Driver

Saturday, July 31, 2010

It's so hot.....

"It's so hot ... you could fry an egg and bake a biscuit!" - Lady on transit this morning.

On that note, summer is drawing to a close and we are full speed ahead on track for the first day of school. Our first day is August 9 and we are looking at some changes in the upcoming school year. Last year I blogged about our Pre-Kindergarten students being bussed from their primary school to their proper zoned schools. It all evened out in the end and the kids settled in nicely to their zoned schools. We also didn't seem to have as much trouble with parents as the year progressed and we were firm with the changes that we had put in place. Kids rarely got on the wrong bus, or transferred out of zone. We did have a few parents try to skirt the system by lying to the bus driver, or transporting their child to another bus route's stop, but I expect as years pass, those will become fewer and fewer.

One of the big changes this year is the integration of Pre-Kindergarten into the K-5 configuration. In previous years, the Pre-K was in their own school separate from the rest of the grades. This year, all elementary kids will be getting off at the same school and our schools will become Pre-k - 5 configuration. It is supposed to cut down on fuel use by the buses, but I also hope it will reduce the confusion of where each child is supposed to go at the end of the school day. It will also reduce the anxiety of our pre-k kids who surprisingly adjusted well last year to being bussed to different schools, but now won't have to go through that.

As always, stay safe on the roads and watch out for children!

The Bus Driver

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Do you have a stretcher?

I might need one after this holiday weekend. A majority of the weekend was relatively uneventful and downright predictable, except for Stretcher Granny. My last pick up of the day on the Fourth of July was a one-way trip from a nursing home to a local address about 15-20 minutes away. Being it was the holiday, I figured it was grandma going home for a short stay with family during the holiday. Ordinarily, we do these runs all the time, one-way, round-trip etc.

I should have known this run was not going to be anything but ordinary when I walked into the nursing home to inquire about the individual and the nurse on duty looked me in the eye and deadpanned, "Do you have a stretcher?" Yes, you read that right. A stretcher. Our typical response is, "No, we do not have a stretcher. We are not an ambulance service. We are simply transport." Someone then spoke to the nurse and then the nurse said to me, "Oh I guess they're going to put her in a wheelchair instead."

I figure, "Sure, I've dealt with a lot of wheelchair patients before, why is this one any different?" It was. They wheel Stretcher Granny out in a wheelchair and the first thing I notice is her awkward position in the wheelchair almost like she can't sit upright in the chair. Her head is resting on the CNA pushing the wheelchair. When the CNA backs up a little bit and her head is off the CNA, it is hanging there practically bobbing up and down and side to side. I ask, "Can she support herself?" The answer is, "No."

I should have refused transport right then and there, but I plugged on. We get Stretcher Granny in the bus and I'm securing the chair and setting up the seat belt mechanism in order to help prevent Stretcher Granny from slipping any further than she is already. Her son and daughter-in-law reposition her a couple times, scooting her up in the chair so she is not sliding down as much. The CNA returns with pillows which they place under her head on the seat propped up against the bus wall. I cinch the seat belt down and ask the family if they think it is secure enough. Then I let the daughter-in-law know that I will drive gently and slowly so as not to jar Stretcher Granny. Also I requested she remain standing to help support Granny. Stretcher Granny is moaning and complaining by now and we haven't even left the parking lot yet.

The ride over to the house is uneventful and I make small talk, all the while holding my phone ready to dial 911 if Stretcher Granny shows any signs of slippage. In transit, I discover there is no ramp to wheel Stretcher Granny up to the house, only stairs. We arrive and I position the bus to let the ramp down by the back patio which has 3 steps about 2 inches high each, so they were very shallow steps. The ramp won't reach to the patio without the door being blocked. Not wanting to get any closer to the air conditioner, I decide to let Stretcher Granny down as close to the steps as possible. As I'm unhooking her, the urine bag had fallen on the floor of the bus (YUCK!) and fearing the family would move her before it was secure again, I did mention it and the family fixed it. The daughter-in-law says to the son, "Next time we're calling an ambulance!" and he says completely oblivious, "Was it that bad?"

Because I was so close to the house and the steps, there was a thorn bush right by where I had to stand to let the lift down. As such, I managed to get trapped between the thorns and the lift resulting in a few nice thorns to my butt while I'm trying to maneuver Stretcher Granny onto the lift. I had decided since we were close enough to the steps, that we should back her on to the lift and let her down backwards, but this meant her head would not be supported. Luckily her son was tall enough that he supported her head on the way down. In order to get her off the lift and release me from any liability in this case, she had to be bumped up the steps. So, I helped her son bump Stretcher Granny up the steps so they could get her in the house. (We technically are not supposed to do lifting, but because I simply wanted to get the heck out of there, I did.)

Stretcher Granny's son asks me how to pay and I explain that he can go ahead and pay the 6 dollar fee now. He hands me a 10 and asks for change. I oblige and he walks away without so much as giving a tip. We don't expect tips, but mind you, its a holiday weekend, I got Stretcher Granny home under extenuating circumstances, I helped bump her up the steps, I went above and beyond what we do in normal circumstances and the guy is a complete jackass! I'm sorry that your 6 dollars didn't buy you a 600 dollar ambulance ride. That's what you get for being a cheap jerk.

Worthy of my 100th post?

The Bus Driver

Monday, June 28, 2010

Boys are so GROSS!

Ok, so the title makes me sound like a juvenile girl, but you really haven't lived until you are driving a bus that is packed with a boys team of some sort. Football, soccer, baseball, basketball, etc. When they first get on the bus, they smell normal. But after the game is over, they STINK! It gets worse when the weather is hot and I become eternally grateful that ALL the windows are open and the fans are blowing on me, moving the stinky air to the rest of the bus.

So this summer, being a glutton for punishment, I signed up to drive summer field trips on our buses which do not have air conditioning. Besides being incredibly hot, this intensifies any smell to a point where even the offender's team mates take notice. Recently I drove a group of baseball players and when they boarded the bus, the following conversation occurred:

Player 1 - Dude your shirt STINKS!

Player 2 - I didn't play last game so I didn't think it would smell bad and I didn't wash it.

Player 1 - Dude you should ALWAYS wash your shirts! That's just nasty! Player 3 smell player 1's shirt.

Player 3 - (after taking a big sniff) Ew that reeks!

Player 1 - It's player 2's shirt.

Player 2 - I don't think it smells.

The rest of the team - EW gross dude!

The wonderful teenage mind.

Grossed out!

The Bus Driver

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Impact on a Child's Life

In my previous entry, I wrote about the prank I played on some unsuspecting 7th grade band members. I had the same group two days later and had about five of them ask, "Where's the frog?" It got me thinking about the influence each of us has on children. Sometimes, if I'm facing a particular behavior problem, I have to take a step back and be the bigger person in the situation.

It may be that the child's life may NOT be the best thing ever. They may have to go home and be responsible for their little siblings - at 6-9 years old! Mom or dad may not be existent in the home. They may be in jail, selling drugs, or any other number of things. I drove a certain bus once and jokingly told the kids they'd better be good or I'd call their mommas and daddies. The overwhelming response I got from the kids was, "My (parent of choice) is in jail/prison - They're getting out in XX months/years." It completely threw me off guard and made me realize that some of these kids have a hard life.

Many of our children go home hungry and don't eat anything until the next day at school. Many communities are implementing summer lunch programs because these children would go hungry if there was nothing available. Many children bring their younger siblings and make sure that they get enough to eat before they eat.

Their school life might not be the best thing either. Their teacher might be awful. Their teacher might yell, scream, keep them in for recess, send them to the principal's office. They might face numerous discipline consequences through the school. Sure their behavior sometimes warrants these consequences, but to add a bus conduct offense on top of it probably gets discouraging.

Most behavior problems I can manage on the bus without school intervention. Often these kids are just starved for attention. I've had several kids come up to me to give me a hug and receive one in return even if I'm not driving their bus that day. They're quick to show me their accomplishments. I praise them and they soak it up. I high five the kids or fist bump the teens. I sing silly songs with the pre-k kids and also some of the older ones who are embarrassed at first, but then get into the fun. Sometimes I pull tricks out of my proverbial hat with items on hand.

I was faced with the scary prospect of entertaining/controlling 8 pre-k kids on one bus one afternoon. Our pre-k is located across town and while all the buses transport their kids there in the morning, in the afternoon those same kids board 1 of 2 buses, marked with a red or green dot and go to their respective elementary schools to meet their buses. They label the kids with white name/bus number labels and a red or green dot sticker on the label. I peeled off the sticker on one of the tags and stuck it on my nose and waited for the kids to notice. They howled in laughter when they saw I was being silly, then they all begged me to have a "nose" like mine. Ever since then, whenever I'm on that bus, they want a "nose".

If its one thing I keep in mind it is that we all have an impact on the lives of children no matter how old they are. So, for that 10-45 minutes they are on MY bus, if I can bring just a little happiness to their lives, then I've done my job.

Spreading happiness everywhere!

The Bus Driver

Monday, May 24, 2010

Random Ramblings and a Drunk Guy on a Bike

We are barreling towards the end of the school year. With our last day being June 4, the schools have all decided to have endless field trips. Most are rewards for good behavior - bowling, the movie theater, skating, "fun zone" - but a good portion of them are 5th grade field trips or middle school band trips. The 5th grade field trips are basically taking those kids who will be moving up to 6th (and entering middle school) to their respective new middle schools for tours and a mini orientation of what to expect when they get there next year. The band trips are for the middle school band to recruit new kids from the 5th grade who might actually want to do band all through MS and into HS.

These trips are rather boring and uneventful. But there have been a few highlights. First I took kids bowling for the 6th or 8th or 100th time this year, and when I walk into Denny's (attached to the bowling alley) the staff at Denny's greets me with "Who did ya bring this time?" - That's a good thing right????? Secondly, on my mini band trip today, I found a plastic realistic looking frog on the dashboard of the bus I borrowed. I placed the frog on the white part of the steps facing me so the kids would see it as they stepped up onto the bus. I managed to prank every kid that got on the bus! Lastly, I've gone to the beach several times over the last three weeks and had a couple teachers compliment me on how well I maneuver the bus through the trees in some tight parking areas close to the beach.

In other news, there is no shortage of entertainment. From a girl who shot me the middle finger while I was driving a route and was blocking the street she wanted to drive down to "Cousin It" emo kid who has his hair cut in such a way that he can't see two feet in front of him. You know the type of kids I'm talking about. Additionally, to add insult to injury, the kid insists on wearing a hat, thereby sealing in his blindness to how stupid he looks.

By far the best entertainment I've had all year actually happened to a friend of mine who also drives a bus. Just recently, she was driving down the road on the way to complete her route when a man on a bicycle was pedaling towards her in her lane. She slowed the bus to a stop, and watched this guy. Apparently he had a broken leg, and his crutches were propped up on the bicycle. He was also drunk as heck. He wobbled down the road towards my friend and went to go avoid the bus, but his crutches must have hit part of the bus because all of a sudden he loses control and takes a tumble into a ditch. She was worried about him because he didn't move for a while, so she thought he was really injured (apparently it was quite a tumble). Anyhow, he finally moves, stands up, salutes the bus, and topples back over again into the ditch. By now, the kids and her are HOWLING with laughter. I only wish I had been riding on her bus that afternoon. The police came and ended up arresting him for intoxication, but not before he gave the bus a good show.

7 and a half more days left!!!

The Bus Driver

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Color for the Cure!

One of the hair salons local to me held a fundraiser today. They teamed up with Relay for Life (the official American Cancer Society fundraiser) and told folks that if they paid 20 dollars, they could get a streak of either purple or pink in their hair for cancer awareness. (Purple is the Relay for Life color and pink signifies breast cancer awareness.) The proceeds from the hair coloring went directly to Relay for Life.

I now have a pink streak in my hair :)

I encourage anyone who believes in the cause to suggest this to their local hair salons and see if they will also sponsor Relay for Life.

Hoping for a Cure!

The Bus Driver

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Response to an Anonymous Comment

First off, I sincerely apologize for not blogging more. Both jobs have kept me rather busy averaging about 60-70 hours a week between the two, so time for posting has not been in the schedule. I do have a couple good blogs planned for the future though.

Secondly, I have had this comment sitting in my moderation area for quite some time, I had intended to make a blog of it and simply haven't had the time. So, without further adieu, here it is:

Anonymous wrote: Not sure if I can comment without registering, but wanted to say that not all bus drivers are good ones either. Tell me what exactly a 2nd or 3rd grader could possible do to warrant a driver yelling at them every single day so loudly that it makes their ears pop? You bring up major offenses that must be being committed by teenagers or something, but my kids do little stuff like peek out the window to see if where they are is their stop or not. Some kid will have his foot in the aisle. They're yelled at to SIT DOWN as soon as they enter the bus, even if they're bewildered as to where to sit. 7 year olds, after all, are not the must "with it" crowd, yet. I think that it's great everything is recorded so I can prove that my kids' driver is acting like a maniac. She doesn't ever inform me that they are misbehaving or anything like that. I think it should be her job to inform a parent of misbehavior before she assumes that she can yell, scream, mimic, or mock their children. In a lot of cases, children are the victims of the abuse that adults can dish out and if you can't handle a 1st to 5th grader without having to resort to abusive tactics like YELLING over a PA system, for God's sake, then find another line of work, please.

Yes Anonymous, some people are just not cut out to drive a bus. Abusive adult behavior towards children should not be tolerated. However yelling seems to be your main concern. Often elementary children are loud and chaotic. They have not learned how to control their voices and speak in a manner that is appropriate for all situations. A bus is a 40 foot tube with seats and a steering wheel. Even with the windows open, the noise gets very loud inside and often the driver needs to raise their voice to even be heard.

You say it should be our job to tell you if your child is misbehaving on the bus BEFORE we yell at them/correct the behavior on the bus. So does that mean that I should wait to tell little Johnny to put his body back inside the bus and instead pull up to your stop with little Johnny hanging halfway out the window so you can see that he is misbehaving? I'm being sarcastic here, but the reality is, if I see a child doing something that is putting themselves or others in danger, I'm not going to wait until I see a parent at the bus stop (most parents don't stand at the stop in the first place) before I handle it on the bus or take it to a school administrator for disciplinary actions.

Student behavior problems are the number one concern on a bus. Simply put, a teacher has 30 children in FRONT of them, a parent has 1-5 children on average, a bus driver has upwards of 60 children BEHIND them. We hold bus safety classes for grades pre-k through 5 every year at the beginning of each year. During these classes, we teach children the emergency exits, the proper way to sit on a bus and the proper way to behave on a bus. Part of the reinforcement for these skills comes from parents. Teach your children that the bus is just like a car, they need to sit in the seat and stay seated. They need to realize that even though a bus does not have seat belts like a car, that it is a vehicle and deserves the same respect. You wouldn't let your child stand up in the rear of the vehicle would you? You would likely yell at them to sit down and buckle up. I don't like to raise my voice to be heard, but if it means they will stop, think, and listen to me, then I do what I have to do.

Chugging Along,

The Bus Driver

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Words that have Two Meanings and Milk Lady Strikes Again

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting up with a very good friend. She has three very adorable and personable children and we spent the day in the sun on the beach. HyperGirl, her middle child, is aptly named as she is incredibly hyper ALL. THE. TIME. The kid just never stops moving! Our conversations usually happened like this:

HyperGirl: Miss Bus Driver! Miss Bus Driver! Miss Bus Driver! Miss Bus Driver! Miss Bus Driver! Miss Bus Driver! Miss Bus Driver! Miss Bus Driver! Miss Bus Driver! Miss Bus Driver! Miss Bus Driver!

Me: What?

HyperGirl: I'm Annoying!!!

Then dissolving into fits of laughter in the backseat.

But, one particular conversation stands out among all interactions I had with this child.

HyperGirl: I like this car, is it new?

Me: Yes it is new.

HyperGirl: Oh really? When did you get it?

Me: I got it after my Accident.

HyperGirl: (trying to sound sympathetic) Oh well, thats ok, I still have accidents too... I wet the bed sometimes!

Her mother and I couldn't help but laugh.


In other news, I transported Milk Lady to Walmart recently. I had her on my list on other days, but she had simply not materialized. It was another rainy day and I pulled up to her apartment to see her door propped open. This was a sure sign that she was going to go. I also had a witness in the bus, a lady from the office who was hitching a ride to the maintenance shop to pick up a bus that had been serviced. As we pulled up to the apartment, the lady from the office mentioned to me that she was going to simply sit back and watch how Milk Lady treated me as a driver. I nodded and waited.

Milk Lady appeared at the doorway and called out to the bus, "Are you going to close my door for me?" I responded back politely with, "No ma'am I'm not allowed." She started to call me a liar and then thought better of it, opened her mailbox right outside her door and pulled out this blue dog leash thingy. It looks like a dog leash with the collar hook snipped off. She uses it to close the door when she is by herself. She holds it up and calls out to me, " THIS is NOT a DOG LEASH, it is a LEG STRAP." Apparently she was clarifying my misnomer. I had called it a dog leash on that fateful Saturday.

I nodded and smiled, and said, "OK" then proceeded to let down the lift. Milk Lady then made this HUGE production of asking her neighbor to close her door for her complete with hand gestures pointing out the EVIL transit lady who won't help a poor innocent handicapped person. She finally makes her way to the lift and I make small talk:

Me: So they finally put in a ramp for you in the sidewalk, it looks nice.

Milk Lady: I would PREFER if you didn't TALK to me.

I get the lift level with the bus, and she rolls herself in. At this point she sees the office lady and turns all sickeningly sweet as I'm securing her chair and says:

Milk Lady: OfficeLady, YOU would have shut my door for me RIGHT???

OfficeLady: I'm sorry, but its against our policy.


As soon as she heard that, she shut up and was silent and giving both of us the evil eye throughout the transport. We transported her to Walmart with no further complications, though she did ask if I was going to be the one to pick her up. When I replied negatively, she made this big production and said "Well thank GOD, I don't have to deal with you again!!!"

When she finally rolled off the lift at Walmart, I wished her a nice day, then sat back in the drivers seat. The office lady broke the silence by saying, "Well you could cut that tension with a knife!"

Eating Cookies... with Milk,

The Bus Driver

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"Joe" Goes Missing and More False Teeth.

Miss Elderly is back on the bus again and there is no shortage of quotes from this lady.

Miss Elderly: Miss Bus Driver, I can't believe you told your momma about my false teeth that day!!

Me: Oh Really? I tell my mother just about everything!

Miss Elderly: Well I told my daughter that you told your momma what I said about my false teeth, and SHE told me I deserved it because I flap my gums too much!

Me: (laughing)

Miss Elderly: (continues) Well I can't help it if I take them out, I'm sure false teeth annoy everyone else as much as they annoy me!!

Me: ...........


So the conversation then turns to snakes, spiders, and other creepy crawly hopping things. Miss Elderly is regaling me with tales of snakes trying to get inside the house and how she simply doesn't like anything that slithers and crawls.

Miss Elderly: This one day in my room, there was a spider in the corner, and I stared at it and it stared back at me and I hollered to my daughter that she better come and do something about it because I told her that one of us was gonna HAVE to go!!

Me: (falling over with laughter)


Later on the bus, I had a few kids who came up with this gem:

Kid1: Getcho feet outta the aisle!

Kid2: Whose Joe?

Kid3: Joe doesn't ride this bus!

Laughing Silly,

The Bus Driver

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Story of Milk Lady - Transit

****Be forewarned, this blog is long****

As a transit driver, I normally go the extra mile for a client by doing things like opening doors, helping to load some of their groceries, or giving them a hand to help them up or down on the bus. Doing things like this takes only a minimal amount of time and it helps me develop a rapport with repeat clients. Most people who ride transit can handle their own items themselves, but occasionally, I’ll have to hold a purse or a bag for an elderly woman, or fold up the walker of the elderly man who rides.

One of the requests we ask of folks riding transit is that they have exact change for their fare. We often cannot make change and if we have to stop and make change at a convenience store, it’s very inconvenient. Most of our clients adhere to this policy and for the few clients who do not have change for their fare we can usually make change, but those clients typically hand us a 5 dollar bill for a 4 dollar fare, so making change is somewhat easy if all you have is a couple dollars.

The Milk Lady is in a wheelchair and partially paralyzed. She rides transit quite often and can be a handful. She is typically agreeable as long as one doesn’t tell her “No” or says something that can tick her off. She likes to take advantage of situations and play that she can’t do something when she really can. Because of her paralysis, she has limited mobility of her hands. However this limited mobility does not stop her from dialing her cell phone, texting her friends, and any other number of things that she can do with them, but she claims she cannot turn a key in her lock or open her door.

Her apartment complex installed a special handle (elongated, not round) on her door just for her so that she could open and access her apartment. We know that she will regularly leave her apartment by herself, lock the door (it has a twisty lock on the inside) and somehow get back in by herself after her trip down the street to K-Mart or Burger King.

The Milk Lady’s story begins on a Tuesday afternoon. She had ridden transit over to our local Wal-Mart. She usually never has exact change and asked the first driver to change out a 20-dollar bill. The first driver did not have the change and told her to simply get change at Wal-Mart and pay me for the full fare when I picked her up. Her full round trip fare was a whopping 4 dollars. It was a dreary rainy Tuesday when I pulled up to pick her up. The first thing I asked her was if she had exact change for the fare. She looked me straight in the face and said, “Yes”. She had a cartload of groceries (milk, yogurt, and a few other things). I loaded the groceries on the bus and then got her loaded and secured in the bus. She really should have an aide with her when she shops to handle all the groceries she gets, but she expects others to simply drop what they’re doing and do it for her.

I get in the drivers seat and am watching her fumble around in her purse, and she asks me, “Do you have change for a 5?” My incredulous response, “YOU told ME you had exact change. YOU were JUST at Wal-Mart where you KNEW you would have to have exact change for the fare. NO I do NOT have change for a 5.” Now, I don’t know if she had forgotten to get change, but she kept coming up with excuse after excuse as to why she didn’t have change. Then she turns it on me and says, “How come you guys don’t carry change? YOU should carry change for ME!” Again, I reiterated that she was just at Wal-Mart and that she had every opportunity to get change. She asked if I could simply “credit” her account the 1-dollar towards her next ride. I explained that we don’t usually do that, and she begged me to call my supervisor. I did, and it was approved for this ONE time only. In past trips, she has always had a 20-dollar bill and I’ve ALWAYS had to stop somewhere to get it changed out. In fact, on one of these stops to change a bill, she remarked “Oh I need to stop doing this, I need to carry change on me.” She is very manipulative.

We leave Wal-Mart parking lot and pull up at her apartment. In past trips she has asked me to unlock the door for her and push it open so she can get in and in past trips I have obliged, going the extra mile. This time there was the added complication of groceries. Since it was raining, I didn’t feel that I should put the groceries on the sidewalk to let them get wet, so I thought I’d be extra polite and bring them just inside to the kitchen. Her kitchen is located just to the left of the front door of the apartment, so it was not a far stretch to simply put the items on the floor in front of the refrigerator in the kitchen.

Next thing I know, she BLOCKS the exit with her chair (she is not a super small woman, and neither am I) and proceeds to ask me if I can put her milk away in the refrigerator. Our exchange goes like this:

Milk Lady (blocking the door and effectively trapping me in the kitchen): Can you put my milk in the fridge for me?

Me: I’m sorry I can’t help you, I have another pick up, and I need to get going now.

Milk Lady (still blocking the door): Why can’t you? Its just right there!”

Me: I’m sorry, but I can’t. Now please let me out so I can go do another pick up, I’m going to be late if I don’t get out now.

Milk Lady: I just don’t see why you can’t help me and put my milk away. Its in its own bag, you wouldn’t have to take it out of the bag, just put it in the fridge.

Me (getting exasperated): I’m sorry, but I really CAN’T, now please move aside so I can get out and on my way.

Milk Lady (rolling into her apartment in a huff): How rude is that! Someone who can’t even help a handicapped person! I guess my milk will spoil!

Me (slamming the door):…..

Milk Lady (trying to call me back inside):……….

By this time I was late by 5 minutes to my next pick up, and late getting to my primary job (school bus) that afternoon. All I could think about after the exchange was the story “If You give a Mouse a Cookie”. I called my supervisor to let her know I was running late and what had happened regarding the milk. Shortly after that, Milk Lady called the office complaining about me not putting her milk away and about how I was rude and disrespectful. I made the decision right then and there to NEVER go out of my way for her again. If she has groceries, they get deposited on the sidewalk outside her apartment. I’m not going to unlock and open the door for her anymore. She has taken advantage of me one too many times.

Fast forward to Saturday when she shows up on my list again. This time, going out to her boyfriend’s house. Her fare was 6 dollars round trip, but I subtracted the one dollar credit she had, so her fare turned out to be only 5 dollars. I pulled up to her apartment and her aide comes to the door. I call out and tell the aide to make sure that Milk Lady could get back inside her apartment by herself. When Milk Lady finally appears I tell her in no short order that I’m not going to unlock the door for her anymore and that she had better be able to get back into the apartment without my help. She becomes indignant and asks why the sudden change of heart. I explained to her that after Tuesday’s incident, there would be no more help.

She was visibly angry at me and started to berate me about how I was heartless for not helping a handicapped woman. I told her that I’d simply call my supervisor and my supervisor would tell me not to even take her anywhere, and just leave. She stopped for about a minute, just long enough for me to get her on the lift and start moving the lift up. About half way up she turns and looks at me and says, “Your attitude is just like your face!” I finished moving the lift up to the bus level and stated, “Thank you for the compliment!” She was speechless, and then proceeded to whip out her cell phone and call her boyfriend and advise him that I’m so heartless and that I don’t care about handicapped people. She also called me “that FAT transit lady.” She was loud enough that I had to listen to her for the entire 20-minute ride out to her boyfriend’s house. I simply let her off and told her of the return time.

On the return trip, she confirmed that I wouldn’t open the door for her back at her apartment. I simply told her that I wasn’t allowed. I should have known that would set her off. Again she angrily dialed her boyfriend or other friends and claimed I was being mean and heartless to her. Then she demanded to know who told me I wasn’t allowed to open the door for her anymore. I did not justify that with an answer, so she exclaimed that she was going to call the big boss man and demand answers. Basically she was threatening me to see if I would cave and give in to her demands. Then we had the following exchange:

Milk Lady (rather haughtily): Well YOU wont have to worry about seeing ME on your bus again!

Me (politely): Oh, do you mean me personally or transit in general?

Milk Lady: YOU personally!

Me (still politely): So would you like to cancel for tomorrow morning too, since I have you on my list?

Milk Lady (still rude): No, well you can pick me up for tomorrow, but no more after that.

Me: Ok.

I dropped her off and then called my boss man to advise him of the situation that was happening. I told him exactly what had happened, how she had insulted me and what I said to her in return. Sunday morning, she called me and told me she was canceling her ride. Cry me a river.

A few days ago, she called up and asked for a ride again on Saturday. She also requested that I not be the one to pick her up. The scheduling lady told her flat out that we don’t accept requests; you get who you get, and either you go or you stay home. Milk Lady tried to be rude and got told that she will not disrespect the transit drivers again. Go office secretary lady!

So as of right now, I haven’t had to pick her up since the last Saturday exchange. It will be interesting to see what this weekend brings!

Being Very Patient,

The Bus Driver

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sunday Hats and Strange Offers - Transit

Well, it has been a while since I've updated simply due to the increase in work from both jobs. I've been working the weekends mainly at transit and have a few upcoming field trips that I'm definitely looking forward to.

Almost every Sunday, I have the pleasure of transporting an elderly black baptist lady (Hat Lady) over to her church in a nearby town about a 15 minute ride. She is in a wheelchair and has no mobility and resides in a nursing home, but she faithfully goes to church every Sunday when she is in good health. Every Sunday that she does go to church, she dresses up and puts on a hat. Yes, true southern baptist HATS. Its a surprise every Sunday which hat she wears. They range in color from traditional white, black, and blue, to as extravagant as red and animal prints. Naturally, her outfit always matches her hat.

I call my mother most every Sunday to give her the "Hat Report". Last Sunday, she wore a leopard print hat and had the matching jacket to go with it. Unfortunately this Sunday, I'll be transporting Negative Ned over to his storage buildings in order for him to load up the bus with junk to haul back to town.

In transit, I come across a lot of strange characters and receive a lot of requests from folks who don't want to pay the extra money for a service like stopping at a Burger King to procure lunch. Often times these folks will offer to pay for my meal, or offer me a drink or a small tip in return for providing the extra stop. Usually, I am not allowed to stop anywhere that is not designated on transit on our schedules, but occasionally, I have to make exceptions. Most of the exceptions come when folks do not have exact change for the ride, so I simply stop at a convenience store nearby, change out the money, and quickly get underway. Other times, if I have to wait an extended period of time for a person at a destination out of town, I will take the bus to the nearest restaurant and get refreshment for myself. Other requests that I receive are typically requests for help such as opening a door for a handicapped person, or quickly running into a building for a person that cannot physically do it. I'm usually willing to oblige these requests, as it simply makes my life and the other persons life easier.

Funeral Faith is a lady I've transported to a viewing at a funeral home as well as a couple of her family functions. Her morbid name comes from the fact that her son (Funeral Frank) owns a part of a local funeral home. Her family is very warm and welcoming. There is always a family member who rides the bus with Faith to whatever the function is. During one of the last transports, Funeral Frank rode the bus with her. We got to talking and he revealed that he was part owner to a local funeral home. Then he proceeded to give me the strangest offer I have received to date. He has offered me a free tour of the Funeral Home.

Yes, a Funeral Home.

I didn't know how to respond to it, so I simply thanked him for his generous offer, and told him I'd consider it. Inside I was screaming, "EEK Dead Bodies!!! RUN AWAY!!!"

Going to an Early Grave,

The Bus Driver

Friday, January 22, 2010

Overheard - Two for the Price of One

Today was a fun filled day of circuses and bowling. Both unrelated trips, but both producing their equivalent of hyperactive excitable children. A large group of Pre-K babies got to go see the circus at a local venue. Of course this morning, most of the babies were already hyped up for the field trip and really excited. This of course left them on a permanent sugar buzz from all the cotton candy, sugar, and excitement throughout the day of lions, tigers, and bears - Oh My! This little gem came from the afternoon route.

I often have the opportunity to sit and listen to Pre-K babies interact with each other while waiting for the larger kids to come out of their school. Often these children love to "tattle" on each other and most simply call me "Ms. Bus Driver". This exchange happened today while waiting:

Pre-K Girl 1: Ms. RegularDriversName! Ms. RegularDriversName! Ms. RegularDriversName!

Pre-K Girl 2(to #1): Ms. RegularDriversName is not here today!

Pre-K Girl 1(with attitude): So,she can change her name to Ms. RegularDriversName.

Apparently according to Girl 1 - I can magically change my name at will! AMAZING!


I did not get to go to the circus. I did get to take the 7th graders bowling. This trip was a reward for good behavior. As always with trips, lots of random and unexplainable things happen. This happened on the bus en route to the bowling alley:

7th Grade Boy(standing up randomly): When I say Hillshire!, You say Farm!

7th Grade Boy(continuing after a pause): HILLSHIRE!

Whole Bus(including myself and the teachers): FARM! GO MEAT!

Complete with pumping arms in air victoriously.

Yes. It was a good ride.

The Bus Driver

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Overheard - Transit Edition

Driving an elderly woman home.

Miss Elderly: Miss Bus Driver, You know what I'm gonna do when I get home?

Me: No, what are you going to do.

Miss Elderly: Well, first I'm going to take out my false teeth, then I'm gonna cut my TV on, then I'm gonna strip.

Me: .........

Monday, January 11, 2010

I won't tell if you won't!

After a long winter break, I've compiled a list of things I've learned while working odd hours.

1. Walmart carts roll in the back of a bus when they are not secured.

2. Walmart carts that roll, but are filled with groceries, will NOT tip over, just simply slam into the walls of the bus uninhibited making loud noises.

3. The wheelchair lift will malfunction when you least expect it and at the most inopportune times.

4. When it is raining, the optimal time for loading people that are wheelchair bound is when it is pouring rain. Contrarily, the second you sit in the drivers seat after getting soaked is when the rain will stop.

5. Old people are great!

The fifth item on the list deserves a story.

There once was this old cranky man who lived alone, but traveled somewhere different every day for lunch/breakfast. Well as of recently he has not been taking his daily jaunts into town, so imagine my surprise when he showed up on my schedule one day for transit. I show up at his house, and he hobbles out with a cane and a very large clunky boot on his foot. (Apparently he's had foot surgery of some sort.)

Anyhow, he gets on the bus and after the usual friendly banter, we're off to his destination. About halfway through the ride, he tells me about how he's basically been a prisoner in his own home because he's supposed to be staying there and keeping his leg elevated. He also complains that his daughter is not bringing him all the milk that he wanted to drink. The man is elderly and very set in his ways.

He then informs me that his daughter doesn't know about his lunch trip, but that she'd be in church until noon, and he's "Just GOT to get out of the house!" So I said to him, "I won't tell if you won't! But we gotta get you home before your daughter comes over to find you missing!" He just laughed and grinned. He returned home with a belly full and a very happy demeanor.

Fast forward to later in the week, his daughter called while I was sitting in the office demanding to know if we took her father out to eat over the weekend.


The Bus Driver

Friday, January 1, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years

Hello to EVERYONE out there in Blog land!!!!

I've been largely silent as of recently because I've been working a lot. Hopefully 2010 will have many more stories and anecdotes to share. May your new year be happy healthy and prosperous.

Looking To The Future,

The Bus Driver