Friday, December 16, 2011

Things your Bus Driver wants you to know, but won't tell you.

Every so often I see magazines boasting, "12 things your doctor won't tell you" or " 100 million reasons your mother inlaws brothers wifes cousins fiancee doesn't like you". I thought I would put together a list of things that your Bus Driver wants you to know, but won't tell you.

1. When we tell you your child's pick up time is between 6:15 and 6:30 am, we usually mean that we will get there around 6:40. We tell you the earlier time so that you will actually have your child to the designated stop around the time we ACTUALLY get there. The same goes for afternoon drop off.

2. If you are the parent of an elementary age child, we cannot leave them alone at the stop unless you give us written permission. We also need you to be at the stop or at your door within eyesight of the bus driver.

3. We are NOT babysitters. Being late consistently to the afternoon bus stop will result in your child being dropped off at the sheriff or police station after we have dropped off all other children. If you do this once, we understand and try to work with you, but as a general rule, we do not wait for you to decide when the stop is. Be there when your child gets home.

4. UPDATE YOUR CONTACT NUMBERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I cannot stress this enough. There is nothing worse than a crying child on my bus when I cannot get ahold of you because your FIFTH phone number provided for the child on my emergency contact card does not work because it is "disconnected". Not only that, your child's school often does not have updated numbers because if you changed numbers you likely didn't update either. Please make our lives easier by at least keeping one working number. Tracphone is cheap!!!!!!!

5. If we send a note home, please speak with your child about the behavior listed on the note. We don't write these notes for our own health, but for our sanity, please teach your child the proper behavior on the bus. Often, a note is a last resort and we will generally ask to contact you to discuss your child's behavior on the bus. Please note that we DO try to work with you as much as possible to prevent your child from losing his riding privilege, but if you continually ignore our notes, refuse to speak with us, or decidedly tell us that your child is NOT the problem, I guarantee THAT will be the last time I try to contact you about the behavior. I'll simply write your child up and let the school deal with them.

6. We did not suspend your child off the bus, the principal made that decision. Take it up with your child's school and do not threaten me. If you had worked with me in the first place to correct your child's behavior, you wouldn't be as ticked off.

7. If your child acts out, MY attention is on your child and NOT on the road. That puts the whole bus in danger each time I have to turn my attention to your child for crawling under the seat for the 50th time.

8. If we contact you by telephone at any time other than between the hours of 6 am and 8 am, and 2 pm and 4:30 pm. We DO NOT get paid. Please respect our personal time and our families by being considerate and answering your phone when we do call. When we can't reach you (see number 4) and you call my boss complaining that I never called you, that does NOT gain bonus points with me.

9. Say thank you once in a while. We get yelled at, told we are stupid, and have our stop signs and other lights ignored by people who are just in a rush to get from point A to point B. Sometimes a simple thank you is much appreciated and will go a long way when and if your child acts out on my bus because you have opened that communication line with me.

10. We do have the right to assign seats. Calling me to ask why your child has an assigned seat will not get you an answer, nor will it get your child to change seats. Your child is not the only one with an assigned seat and has probably been assigned a seat for a good reason. Also, asking for your child to switch seats on a bus that is already crowded three to a seat is usually not possible, nor is demanding your child only sit with such and so only in their seat. If the bus is crowded, we do what we can to provide space, but sometimes, its just not possible. Your child needs to deal with it, or stop riding my bus.

To Be Continued......

Be Nice or Leave,

The Bus Driver

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Importance of an Address

On Friday, I took a very long field trip and did not return home until about 2 am. Normally, field trips run very smoothly and have very little if no hiccups. Occasionally we won't know the area, but on those occasions, a coach can give us either an address or very detailed directions. I have a personal GPS, so an address is very handy to have since all I have to do is plug it in, and hit "go".

This concept, however, was lost on the two coaches that I drove on Friday. I show up on time for the field trip and before we set out, I ask them for an address or directions and get told, "Oh we've been there before, I know where I'm going!" I'm thinking, "THIS is going to end well!"

We get to our midway point and about 10 miles prior to getting there, I inquire as to where the coaches would like to eat. One coach asks me, "There's a Subway there isn't there?" I check my GPS and confirm there is a Subway nearby, and then we have the following exchange:

Coach 1 (confidently) - The Subway is over by the Mc Donalds in that truck stop.

Me - I don't think so... the restaurant is on the other side of Burger King.

Coach 1 - No, I'm right, its by Mickey D's.

Me - I think it goes Mc D's, Truck Stop, BK, and then Subway.... all on the same side of the road.

Coach 1 - No, I'm right....

When we get there, guess who was right? Yep, me.

At the end of the stop, I again asked to see the directions. So, Coach 2 has his wife pull the papers out of the TRASH bag. So, directions in hand, we set out again. I finally get the name of the road we are supposed to be on and plug it into my GPS. I figure, if we get turned around, at least I can get us to the road and then we can search for the destination from there.

We finally exit off the highway and I ask which way to go, left or right. Noone seems to know, so I play it by ear, look at the map in my GPS and get us to the road in question. The coaches are freaking out because they think we are on the wrong road when in actuality, the road itself is the same, the name just changes through an intersection. They didn't seem to understand that and insisted I was wrong and had them on the wrong road. Remember, THEY had been there before and obviously, I was wrong. Their directions read, "As soon as you pass a fire station on the right, the destination will be the next road to the right." Sure enough, I pass a fire station and I point out the destination, and they deny it is because after all noone knows if this road is the correct road, even though my GPS says it is. So, we drive around to Timbuktu and finally end up right where we started where they made me go the wrong way.

I ended up turning around, getting back on the SAME road that I told them was the right road, and to the same place I told them was the destination. Of course I had to listen to the coaches gripe about ME making THEM late and how its all MY fault that I didn't know the destination. Right.

"Turn Right Ahead"

The Bus Driver

Monday, October 24, 2011

Is there an AED available? (Updated)

This weekend has been one heck of a weekend. Saturday, I had to pick up an elderly gentleman from dialysis. I had transported him once before and had issues then. Last time, he tried climbing the steps of the bus only to fall backwards and ONTO me. I luckily caught him and set him down gently. I ended up calling the fire department to help get him off the ground since I could not lift him, nor could he help me lift him. After that fiasco, I prayed I would not have issues this time. I was wrong.

I got to dialysis, and the nurse comes out and tells me he had pulled one of his own needles. He bled everywhere inside dialysis, and they were getting the bleeding stopped and him cleaned up. I had one other pick up from dialysis who had already boarded the bus and was waiting for transport. The gentleman finally comes out, pushing his walker. He seemed to be walking okay, and I escorted him out, let down the lift, and he walked on. He got himself settled, gripped the handrails of the lift and I pressed the button to raise the lift. We made nonsense chat the whole time. The lift got to the level of the bus (about 4 feet off the ground) and he went to put his hands back on his walker, and suddenly stopped talking to me.

He fainted, fell forward and to the left away from me. I was able to grab him to stop him from toppling completely off the lift. I called his name out trying to get him to respond, and yelled to the person on the bus to get help. He came to, and I told him to hold still and help was on the way. The nurse from dialysis came out, saw him, and helped me get him back on the lift, so he wasn't dangling off the lift. I thought his arm had started bleeding again, so the nurse and I switched spots, and then the nurse told another nurse to get a bag of saline and to call the ambulance. I was holding his leg which he had scratched and it was bleeding slightly. He told us he was going to faint again. They started a line and pushed fluids. Then he stopped responding all together.

The nurses told me we needed to let the lift down and get an airway on him. I was still holding his leg so I told a third nurse how to press the button to let the lift down. Once he was on the ground, we flipped him and I elevated his legs. They were still trying to get him to respond. The main nurse shouted for a stethoscope and told the other nurse to call the ambulance and tell them we needed them NOW! They couldn't get a heartbeat or a pulse and started CPR compressions. I asked if there was an AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) available, and the fire chiefs truck arrived. The firefighters got out and asked the same question. The nurse told the firefighters where to find the AED. At that point I got up and set his legs down gently and asked the nurses if they had his daughters phone number. They didn't have it, so I called the one number on my transit sheet praying that the number worked.

I got ahold of someone of the family who was able to get in touch with his daughter. I explained the situation really quickly, while listening and watching them work on him. The AED shocked him 4-5 times. His eyes were open and vacant and he was not responding. The ambulance arrived and they continued chest compressions and went to get him on the stretcher so they could intubate him. They secured him to the backboard and immediately loaded him into the ambulance after it was clear he was NOT reviving. They went off to the hospital.

Turns out, he did not survive. The coroner said his heart stopped. May he rest in peace.

Sending up Prayers,

The Bus Driver

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Blind Confidence

One of the most valuable lessons was one I learned on my first day as a bus driver.

"Go Slow... Eventually, they all get off."

Sometimes I have absolutely NO CLUE where I'm going. Kinda bad considering I'm the driver! I can't tell you how many times I have to rely on the children to tell me the route, the coaches to tell me how to get to the fields, and the teachers to tell me how to get to the museums. Most of the time, I am able to get a general idea of where we are going prior to leaving on trips or driving bus routes, but many times, I fake it.

Yes, I fake it. I pretend like I know what route I'm on when I'm driving a bus route, I pretend like I know how to get there when driving a trip, and I pretend that I know each and every child's parent or legal guardian especially when they are causing trouble. I go everywhere with Blind Confidence. It enables me to set aside my worries and just go with the flow. I don't concern myself with extra problems and simply "let it ride."

I have too much else to worry about than figuring out exactly where the stop is, or what time we'll be back from a trip. I don't worry about the child on my bus nearly as much as the PEOPLE outside my bus. Don't get me wrong, I worry about the kids too, but so many drivers are distracted with cell phones, texting, and other things that they often don't "SEE" the big yellow bus with flashing lights that cannot stop on a dime.

Pull out in front of me and cut me off when I'm traveling fast? I can't stop. Failure to maintain YOUR lane? I can't help that I'm in my lane and making my turn as wide as possible. Slam on your brakes for that cute little dog? This bus cannot stop as quick as your little car, and we have upwards of 60 precious lives on board.

All I ask other drivers to do is to be more aware of whats around them. Think before you run that flashing stop sign on the bus. The life you spare may just be your own kid.

Deep in Thought,

The Bus Driver

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Can I get some Lift Assistance please?

Today, I went to pick up an elderly gentleman to take him to dialysis. On my sheet, it said that he had a walker. Most folks with walkers that we pick up can at least climb up and down the steps with very little assistance, though we do have those who use the walker who know they cannot get up and down the stairs, so they request use of the lift. We have no problem letting the lift down for folks who need it and require it. It can be operated while the client is standing, holding onto the support bars on the side for stability, or while the client is in a wheelchair.

This gentleman came out with his walker and was pushing it down the ramp. He gets to the bus and I ask him if he can get up the stairs, or if I need to let down the lift for him to get on. He tells me, "I can make it up the stairs." So, taking him at his word, we progress to the entrance of the bus. He lifts his right leg up to the first step and grips the handrail of the stairs, then he tries to push and get his left leg up. He can't quite make it so he asks me for, "a little push."

I position myself behind him and go to help stabilize him to get his second foot up and he curls up and pretty much leans back into me, letting go of the hand rails of the bus. I caught him under his armpits and gently lowered him to the ground. I then got in front of him and positioning the walker with a seat behind him, I thought if we could at least get him up to the walker seat, he might be able to scootch himself up onto the seat and back up to standing position. Then I could let the lift down, and let him ride up on the lift.

No Dice.

Down to the ground he goes again. He wanted to try crawling to the bus stairs and getting up that way. He still couldn't get himself up. By this point, I had made the judgement call to call someone for help. I dialed the non-emergency number and let the dispatch lady know that, while he was NOT hurt, we needed someone to come and help lift him up from the ground. About 10 minutes later, the fire chief and two of his firefighters showed up to help get him up off the ground. He rode the lift up and we got him to dialysis where I borrowed a wheelchair from the company and pushed him into the building.

In retrospect, the ramp should have been a clue that he could not manage stairs. I called the bossman and notified him of the incident and he informed me that I made the proper decision.

Lifting Up,

The Bus Driver

Friday, September 16, 2011


I recently came across this poem by Taylor Mali and felt I needed to share it.

Feel free to click on the link and check it out. I'm not entirely sure how to post a video on here and its not mine anyways, so I mean no copyright violation.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Please Pass on the Left

Normally, this is not a hard concept. Passing on the left is something you learn in drivers education. It is enforced in the practical part of driving on a highway. It is reviewed on the written test! Again this is a fool proof concept, yet people still insist on passing on the right. I'm even guilty of passing on the right but only when there is an idiot who won't get out of the passing lane and is going painfully slow.

Our most common problem is people passing our stop signs while we are loading or unloading children. When they are caught by the police, they always claim they never saw the big yellow bus or thought they could "beat the bus". Sadly, this means they play chicken with children's lives. We can lecture children all day on the proper way to cross a street, board a bus, and debark from the bus, but the fact of the matter is, children get excited, forget instructions, and often dash out in the road without any regard for their own safety. What appalls me even more is when people insist on passing on the right (door side) of the bus as we are letting children off. Several children have either had close calls, or been struck in their own driveways due to the carelessness of ADULT drivers.

You would think bus drivers understand this concept more than the regular driver. Right? Wrong! This morning, a bus driver came around my bus on school property, coming between my bus and the school bus loop sidewalk on the RIGHT side of my bus. She got within 4 feet of my door, noticed it was open and stopped, but only momentarily. I saw her out of the corner of my eye, and grabbed the middle school child getting off and told her to STOP. After the driver of the other bus determined we were not letting any children off due to her reckless behavior, she continued up past the door. She did not call us over the cb radio to apologize or ask if we were letting children off.

Naturally, I took this incident to the bossman.


The Bus Driver

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The First Day of School!!!!

Today was wonderful. I felt right at home on the big yellow bus. It felt totally natural behind the wheel. I had about 20 kids on the bus this morning and I greeted all of them with a good morning and a smile on my face. They were all excitedly chattering and ready for the first day. I found myself realizing that I missed the kids!

Things went very smoothly for the morning. Some kids did get left at their stops (or the driver forgot them), but overall the kids got to school safely. On my bus, I had a 7th grader who rode to the High School. His sister had informed me that he did not go to Middle School A, served by the bus, and instead is attending Middle School B across town by the High School. Unfortunately due to school zones, buses are only allowed to go to the schools they are assigned. We are not allowed to deviate out of school zones unless we are directed to by the Dispatcher.

When I got to the High School, the 7th grade boy tried to get off, but I stopped him and made him wait until I figured out what to do with him. Eventually I took him over to Middle School B and dropped him off for the day. Apparently he is considered a "School Option" child. When our schools do not make AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) as defined by test scores by the state, then the school has to offer other school options. We have 5 elementary schools, 2 middle schools, and one high school. Middle School A did not make AYP so kids that normally would attend Middle School A have the option of attending Middle School B instead.

Apparently there is supposed to be a bus that transports School Option children from one middle school to the other. This was not told to us at the meeting we had on Monday, nor did I receive a list of children whom have elected to participate in the school option.

Anyways, that was the only hang up I experienced today. The afternoon went equally as smoothly with very little time delays. Students got home relatively close to normal time and it seemed we operated as a well oiled machine. People just fell into place, kids did what they were supposed to, and parents seemingly stayed calm. Unfortunately, the real chaos will occur in a few days when parents stop taking their children to school and buses start to fill up. Parents will complain, buses will get crowded, and kids will fall out of honeymoon stage.

Honeymooning in bliss!

The Bus Driver

Friday, August 5, 2011

Overheard - Mc Donalds

I was babysitting today for a friend of mine and the kids and I went to McDonalds. The bonus of most Mickey D's is that their play place is located inside and is in an air conditioned area. The only place that would trump Mickey D's indoor play area would be the play area in one of the Burger Kings when I was growing up.

I also realized, most of the playground equipment is now made of hardened plastic. There are very rare playgrounds filled with the metal equipment that I played with as a kid. I distinctly remember our playground was all metal equipment and hard ground. There were no wood chips or sawdust, or sand, to break our falls. Only hard dirt. There were also plenty of tree roots that would spring up when we would play tag. It would almost be like the trees wanted to play tag with us.

I digress. I was sitting at Mickey D's enjoying my burger when one of the girls I was babysitting has the following exchange with her sister:

Girl 1 - (looking at the little smurf figurines that they have in kids meals) Why do they call him Papa Smurf. He isn't the father of all those smurfs!

Girl 2 - (thinking a bit) Well he could be!

Girl 1 - Well, he must have had lots of wives!!!!

Smurfing along!

The Bus Driver

Friday, July 29, 2011

How can you "miss" a child?

One of the questions I find myself asking all the time is "How on earth can you miss a child?" I read articles like this one where the bus driver is arrested for leaving a student unattended on the bus for a period of time. Usually, its a ridiculous amount of time like 4 to 6 hours where the child will go unnoticed. Yes children sleep on the bus, and it can be difficult to see a child especially when they are laying down in the seat fast asleep.

Every bus driver is supposed to make a cursory walk through of their bus checking the seats for any sleeping children. I usually have a 5th grader or teenager at the last school I drop off check the bus for "sleepers" morning and evening. Even with that, if I am not sure and positive that I dropped every child, I still make a walk through of the bus to ensure no child is left behind. It can be very easy to overlook a child that may be sleeping on the floor underneath the seats, but it does not happen often enough.

My biggest gripe is reading stories of SPECIAL EDUCATION drivers leaving their special needs students on the bus. Now most special education buses have a pair of people on the bus, one to drive, and one to manage the children on board. What I don't understand is how did TWO sets of eyes miss these children that are apparently "sleeping." All too often, drivers are in a hurry to vacate the buses, especially on hot days with no air conditioning on the bus.

There are safety measures in place, including a child check alarm (in place on newer buses) that will sound if the driver does not go to the back of the bus to press a little silver button on the back wall and tries to open the front doors. In newer buses, the child check alarm comes on automatically after 10 minutes of bus running time, and gives a 10 to 15 minute buffer time when the bus is turned off for the driver to go back and press the button. Some child check alarm systems require the door to be closed before the alarm can be de-activated. Others, it doesn't matter the position of the door. Often if I leave the door closed, walk to the back, press the button, and open the door when I get back to the front, the alarm never sounds at all, but I've then made my cursory walk of the interior of the bus searching for any children that may be sleeping.

I also have a solution for sleeping children. Many drivers place their most chronic "sleepers" in the first few seats of the bus. That way, its easy to see who got on and who did not, plus its easier to keep track of those who sleep. If parents are worried that their child did not make it to school, I encourage parents to touch base with their child's teacher to express their concerns in the care of their children so that they can establish a system to follow if their child does not arrive at school after riding the bus.

After a long hard day of learning, many children (especially younger ones) are prone to falling asleep in the afternoon. If we show up at your designated bus stop and your child does not get off, please feel free to stay calm while you contact the school and bus shop. It may be that junior fell asleep and the driver simply missed him. If you call us, please give us time to stop the bus, park it out of the way of danger, and allow us time to check for your child. We have 60 other children on the bus besides yours, and we try to do our best to ensure that all the children arrive to and from school safely.

Checking the Bus,

The Bus Driver

Monday, July 11, 2011

Camp Fun!!!

Recently, I had the pleasure to drive the 4H kids up to their yearly week long camp out. I was only going up to drop them off, and then head back home, but lots of fun was had throughout the ride up. There were two buses going this year, about 60 kids in total.

Before we even left the 4H parking lot, a concerned parent stepped up on the bus after one boy had been sent to the other bus because his name was on the other bus' list. Apparently, she was concerned because a boy on my bus was the cousin of the boy who got sent to the other bus. She was worried they would not be allowed to even see each other during camp or be in the same group. The lady running the trip reassured her that the kids would be in the same cabin and they would certainly see each other for the whole camp.

What some parents don't realize is that while cousins might be in the same cabin at night, and see each other during meals; when they go to activities, they'll probably be split into different interest groups and evenly distributed among other 4H groups. Part of the fun of camp is making new friends and strengthening knowledge through fun and games. To be honest, the kids don't care WHAT group they're in. As long as they are having fun and making friends, they are happy. They don't even miss their electronics such as cellphones, ipods, and other items.

A lot of children are far more independent than their parents want to admit. When parents just let go a little bit and allow their children to experience new things, their children become better rounded individuals. Camp is about building friendship and keeping fun alive and it provides a safe supervised environment without the overshadowing of parents who are trying to control their children's every move.

I hope that these kids at 4H camp this week have a great time and bring back awesome memories. I know I did when I went to camp.

Singing Camp Songs,

The Bus Driver

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Wal-Mart Rudeness Revisited

Driving transit is never dull. I experience all sorts of different people, on and off transit. Most people are courteous and respectful. Occasionally, we get people who expect the world to bow down to them as though they are entitled.

A few weeks back, I blogged about the lady who decided to argue over a parking space. As expected then, she didn't get her way, but it goes to show there is no boundary to rudeness. Today I pulled into Wal-Mart to let a handicapped gentleman off the bus so he could do his shopping. As I pull into the front of the store, I pass the Home Goods entrance and go to pull by the Food Center where I normally let people off and there is a big SUV parked at an angle with the majority of the vehicle blocking part of the entrance and the lane of traffic and the tail end blocking both lanes of traffic. The vehicle is clearly in a "No Parking" zone.

Rude Lady behind the wheel is busy talking with her friend at the entrance to Wal-Mart. There is clearly not enough space for me to pull around and let my passenger off without blocking traffic or causing a major traffic jam in both directions. I pull up and wait for her to notice me and give her a chance to politely end her conversation, or at least make arrangements for the conversation to be continued at a later time. Rude Lady glances my way and returns to her conversation, effectively ignoring me. I beep the horn twice and raise my hands as if to ask, "Are you going to move?" She glares at me and then pulls her vehicle a couple feet up and towards the entrance, still in the "No Parking" zone and still blocking at least one lane of traffic.

I barely had enough room to pull around her large SUV and had space to let down the wheelchair lift. As I pulled to the side very carefully, the gentleman in the wheelchair remarked, "I think she gave you the finger!" I hadn't noticed if she had because I was too busy maneuvering my large bus around her wrongly parked SUV. As I let down the lift, I pulled a Wal-Mart employee aside and pointed her out and suggested they tell her to move because she was clearly blocking traffic or call the police to get her to move. Rude Lady and her friend are glaring at me as are their kids.

The Wal-Mart employee approached her and told her to move because she was blocking traffic, and she rolled her eyes at the employee! The sad thing is, she did this in front of her kids and her friends kids. I only wonder what these kids are learning with the disrespect their parents show.

Feeling disrespected,

The Bus Driver

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

End of Year Celebration

Our last day was May 20 and it was a fairly awesome day. The last week of school is usually the most hectic on the bus because the kids are ramping up for their end of the year festivities, they are excited for the summer, and they always conveniently forget how to ride a bus properly. Of course this leads to several write up's and flustered bus drivers, but in the end it all works out.

Luckily, in my 5 years of driving a bus, I have learned to just roll with the punches. I don't sweat the petty stuff and don't bother to engage the kids in a power struggle, its simply not worth it. After a whole year of kids acting like twits, causing trouble for the sake of causing trouble, and basically deciding to do everything in their power to NOT follow the rules, one local middle school had the BEST way of "getting back" at the hormonal pre-teen/teens.

Water guns.

Everyone from the teachers, to the principal, to the coaches, to the janitors all came armed to school with super soaker water guns. They pre-filled them and set up buckets of water out in the bus loop for maximum enjoyment. Then, when school was dismissed for the summer and all the wonderful cherubs were orderly and quickly filing out of the school to get on the buses, they opened FIRE!

Mass chaos, girls screeching, guys yelping as the cold water hit them full force from all those folks who put up with them all year.

Revenge is best served cold!

The Bus Driver

Friday, May 13, 2011


Bullies come in all shapes and sizes. They can be the smallest child, or your boss at work. Bullying should not be tolerated in any shape or form whether it be in the workplace, at school, or at home. As a bus driver, I look out for bullies. I put a stop to bullying on any bus that I drive immediately.

Sometimes I am the one bullied by the students. Or, at least they try to bully me. It doesn't work the way they plan because I typically go toe to toe, nose to nose with them and let them know that they do not intimidate me. Often, bullies are simply looking for the attention of the victim and other students.

This week, I experienced a high schooler who tried to push my buttons by telling other students around him lies about me. He deliberately sat 3 seats behind me so that he would be close enough to the front so that I could hear his obnoxious comments. In this case, he was looking for a reaction. I wasn't going to give him the satisfaction. He wanted me to get in a confrontation with him because he kept saying he would "cuss" me out. Funny enough, his beef with me spanned back 4-5 months when I last drove that bus. I couldn't figure out why he was so upset with me as a driver, but apparently I did something that made him angry enough to be as obnoxious as he was. I let him off and didn't let it worry me, but I did notify my boss and pulled the tape.

Later that afternoon, he continued his taunting, but not until we were almost to his stop. Then it hit me. The route is located in an area that has one road that is paved with dead end roads jutting out from it. The route, as I learned it, dropped the last stop off at the intersection of two of these dead end roads and the main road. It has always been this way, and I had not been notified of any changes. The last time I was on the bus, the kids tried to tell me that the driver now went down the dead end roads. The truth is, we only go down the dead end roads when it is raining.

The boy who was taunting me got off at the last stop in the afternoon.

He simply did not want to walk down the road. It only hit me when I pulled up to the last stop and opened the door and said politely, "Have a nice day." The boy got so angry and upset and started running his mouth while he got off the bus. He happened to get on at a different stop in the morning, so the location of the stop confused me. In the end, I got him back, because he had to walk anyways.

I found out later, that the new bus driver had changed the route around and hadn't told anyone or cleared it with the bossman. So as a result, I legitimately did not know about any changes in the route. In the end, I got back at the boy. He deserved it!

Bouncing down the road!

The Bus Driver

Monday, May 9, 2011

Snobby Old Ladies

I was driving for transit today when I had a pick up at a local Dollar Store. My client stated she needed to run to Walmart briefly. Since it was next door and I was 15 minutes early, I didn't mind waiting extra. I circled the parking lot a couple of times and then pulled down into the parking lot. The bus is a handicap accessible bus and has privileges to park in handicap spots. I pulled into one of the spots close to the front, but since Walmart parking lot was mobbed, I didn't feel comfortable leaving a little bit of the bus out in the way of traffic. The parking lot has all diagonal parking spaces instead of straight spaces.

The person in the spot next to the one I had pulled had vacated the spot. I quickly backed out and then pulled up out of the way of traffic and covering two spaces. I flipped my hazard lights on, knowing I would be gone within the next 15 minutes. I even pulled up far enough that people had plenty of space to get around me. Thats when Chihuahua Lady decides to pull up at my rear end and HONK her horn LOUDLY. She honks twice more, and when its clear I'm not moving, she flips her blinker on and pulls LEFT almost into my bus, trying to edge me out. Now I'm parked, not moving. She honks her horn again and I see her get agitated more and she is blocking traffic waiting on me to move.

I watch her pull up to my passenger door. I open the door and she rolls down her window, revealing her and her little pet chihuahua. I explain that I am waiting for someone. She remarks quite rudely "WELL, THATS NO WAY TO PARK!" Her chihuahua is yapping at me through the window. I apologize again and she remarks "Well, the POLICE will come and tell you." I just shut the door and she drives off in a huff all angry.

Apparently it seems I was in HER parking space. The one SHE wanted. Yep, I inconvenienced HER. In the end, I left within 15 minutes, and the police were not called to fix her civil dispute with me. I'm sorry if my parking the bus inconvenienced you, but your car is NOT the only car in this parking lot. The ironic thing is, to the right was a space RIGHT in front. But she decided to pick a dispute with me over the way I parked.

Parking Wars,

The Bus Driver

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Exspomation and Snobby Teachers

Recently, the neighbor and I got into a conversation about school. Her son is graduating from pre-k and advancing onto kindergarten. She related a story about "exspomation". Her son told her one morning that he needed an object to exspomate at school. He had to bring it in. He finally selected a stuffed leopard and when he held it up for the teacher, proudly saying, "Ms Teacher! I brought my leopard to exspomate!!!" His teacher knowingly said, "Oh!, I don't know if I can ESTIMATE that many spots!" His mother laughed.

The last 3 weeks have been filled with non-stop field trips. I've been to the bowling alley, the museum of science,and various other locations. We are closing in on the last week of school with the speed of a freight train. As we near the end of school and summer starting, I hope that folks will take caution in driving around the streets during the next three months because of all the children who will be out and about.

The bowling alley provided lots of entertainment with a pre-k class. Those children prefer the "zig zag" method of bowling which basically involves throwing the ball at a hap hazard angle, and watching it bounce perilously against the side bumpers back and forth. Its cute to watch them celebrate knocking down just one pin.

My trip to the museum was equally as interesting. I experienced the snobbiest teachers I've ever come across. Teachers, if you take a field trip, please speak to the bus driver and at least make some polite conversation. Also, if you have directions to the place, please just hand the paper to the bus driver and let the bus driver utilize the directions to the best of their ability. Most of the time, I get along with teachers just fine. I've taken this group on field trips before and the teachers were exactly the same. I thought the first time was just a fluke, and that maybe I was imagining that they were snobby. They were actually snobby. One teacher actually physically turned her head away from me whenever I even asked a simple question, and refused to even look at me. She also acted annoyed. On the plus side, I got to drive the brand new bus (less than 500 miles on it) to the museum. The bus had an air ride drivers seat that was really comfortable!!!!

My last field trip of the season was a pre-k class to a teachers house for a "water day". Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate and the children, who were told to only put their feet in the water, were soaked. They had fun anyways. Besides, you cannot simply tell a pre-k child to NOT get wet... on a WATER day... yeah.

Waiting for Summer (10 days!)

The Bus Driver

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Emergency Evacuation

It was a typical Thursday evening. I had just gotten home from my after-school program run and was just putting my feet up and getting ready to eat dinner (thank you microwave dinners deluxe)when a phone call interrupted my, one time a week, quiet evening at home.

"Ms. Bus Driver, its an emergency, can you help?"

Amazing how one phone call can cause so much havoc in one evening. Not really knowing what I was about to get myself into, I immediately said, "Yes, what do you need me to do?"

"Go to Transit, get a bus with a lift, and go out to Nearby Town, and help evacuate the nursing home. There is a fire. Make sure you call Mr. Bossman when you get to Transit."

By the word "fire", the adrenaline was pumping, and I had already put my shoes on and was on the way down the stairs. The call came in at 6:51 pm. I was at Transit and on a bus by 6:54 pm. I was entering Nearby Town following the ambulances with lights and sirens by 7:07 pm. By 7:09, I was at the nursing home.

The smoke was thick. It felt like a hot August night and the road was blocked off. The fire reached within 30 feet of the nursing home. We were against a wall of smoke racing against time to get the residents to safety. It was chaos. Organized chaos, but chaos. Police were redirecting traffic, roads were closed, trains were stopped. The fire had jumped the 4 lane highway in several places. The county had come to a standstill. Reports flew in, 1000 acres burned, then 2000, then 5000, then 7000+. Damage is unknown. Speculation begins: Was it a careless brush fire, Was it someone burning trash, Was it a controlled burn out of control?

WHOP WHOP WHOP WHOP WHOP The helicopter soars overhead dropping water on hot spots where the trucks can't reach. Homes are in danger, some already burning. People are being evacuated to nearby churches, schools, towns. Fire departments from all over are battling the blaze. Emotions are running high and the intensity is heart pounding.

School buses, Transit buses, and Ambulances are piled into the parking lot at the nursing home. I load up two people in wheelchairs, secure them and go to make my way over to the safety shelter. I return again in the hopes of helping to transport supplies, or other needed items or other people who needed transport. I think it takes about 40-50 minutes to evacuate everyone. Ambulances are making several return trips for bed bound residents. Over at the evacuation shelter, people are swarming, nurses are working to make sure everyone is safe and the smell of smoke hangs in the air. The nursing home becomes a ghost town.

Did I just help evacuate a nursing home?


The Bus Driver

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What are we going to do if it rains?

More importantly, this should be titled, "Why should parents be home when their children get home from school?" A whole issue brewed between a fellow bus driver and a parent earlier this week. Since the child lives down near the end of a dead-end dirt road, the bus cannot go down to the end of the road and risk getting stuck in mud or sand in an attempt to turn around and come out. Instead, we drop the child off at the corner, and she has to walk a measly 2 and a half bus lengths (about 100 feet) to her driveway. We have never gone down to the end of that road and have always dropped off at the corner. There is simply no place for a 40 foot long vehicle to turn around at the end.

Because the child is in 3rd grade, we ask that the parent be visible to the bus driver before the driver will let the child off. This means the parent needs to either be at the end of the driveway or at the actual stop. The alternative to the parent being at the stop is to have the parent sign a letter stating that someone will be home to receive the child every day. A majority of the time, parents seem to feel "inconvenienced" by their children. How dare we ask them to interrupt whatever they're doing, in order to be home for their child?

So, the parent found themselves up at the bus shop in my boss' office. The mother was demanding we make an exception for her child. I only happen to know about this child because while the bus driver was out one afternoon, the child began to ride the bus. I stopped at the end of the road (closest to the paved highway road) and the child said "I live all the way down this road." I told her not to worry, but that I had a few other stops before her designated stop. When I stopped to let her off at the corner closest to her house, the child claimed I missed her house. So, I kept her on the bus until the end of the route, letting her know I'd go back down the road. Maybe I got the numbers wrong, maybe I misread the bus pass, maybe I was at fault. We traveled down the road, and she informed me that her house was 3-4 houses past the corner where I originally told her to get off the bus, down towards the dead end part of the road. I informed her that this would be her stop and that she would need to walk to and from this point. She seemed to accept it.

The mother was in my boss' office when I overheard the conversation. The mother was not understanding why we couldn't go to the end of the road and drop her child off at her driveway. I peeked my head in and interjected that I had been the one to drop the child off on the first day, and the mother accused me of trying to MAKE her child get off the bus at the "Highway". I informed her that I told her daughter that I would be going down that road, and explained that I let her off at the corner closest to the house. After this, I had to get going, and I over heard her ask my boss. "What are ya'll gonna do if it rains?"

I had to stifle laughter and bite my tongue as my answer whispered through my lips. "Buy an umbrella and a poncho."

Washed Away,

The Bus Driver

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pollen Did It

The little boy who lives across the parking lot from me is obsessed with the transit bus that I drive regularly. He can't help it, he's 4. He usually requests a "ride around the parking lot" in the bus. Occasionally, I let him. I also let him operate the door, and he always asks questions about the buttons and knobs on the panel at the front of the bus. He's absolutely adorable. Today, he and his mother were out in the parking lot having some "outside" time and I pull in on the bus. He runs to the door after I get parked and informs me of some very important news.

Busboy: Ms. Bus Driver, guess what!?

Me: What Busboy?

Busboy (very authoritatively): SomeBODY put stuff all over our car this morning, but I washed it off all by myself!

Me: Oh really? Who would do such a thing?

Busboy (knowingly): "Pollen" did it!

I must set out to find this "Pollen" and make sure he is brought to justice!


The Bus Driver

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Overheard - BonBons

Most of the time, the morning routes are uneventful. Kids are just waking up, are still sleepy, and are often quieter in the morning. Not the case with BonBon Girl. BonBon Girl is in everyone's business. I don't think that child sleeps at night, she always seems so wired up. She acts out enough that she has earned herself a permanent front seat. Unfortunately we still have to remind her to sit down and turn around. She tends to tell the other kids what to do, and again, we have to remind her to mind her own business several times during the route.

Anyhow, the following exchange happened between BonBon Girl and another child on the bus this morning:

BonBon Girl: When people get pregnant, they eat BonBons!

Other Child: Ew....

BonBon Girl: What? Its just chocolate! They eat Twinkies too!

Somehow, I really don't want to know what started that conversation!

Nibbling Chocolate(and NOT pregnant)!

The Bus Driver

Monday, February 21, 2011

Good Morning or Good Afternoon?

Ms. Elderly is back with a third installment. To fully appreciate her, you need to read Part 1 and Part 2.

I recently picked up Ms. Elderly and Mr. Stroke for BINGO. They go play bingo at a local church twice a month. It's this huge event and they go play anyways even if they don't win anything. I pick up Ms. Elderly first and head over to Mr. Stroke's house. Mr. Stroke recently had a haircut. I mentioned it, and Ms. Elderly pipes up with, "I like him better with longer hair, its more curly and fits him better." Nothing like saying whats exactly on your mind huh?

I let the lift down to get Mr. Stroke and his powerchair on the bus, and I hear the following exchange between the two as I'm raising the lift.

Ms. Elderly: Good MORNING Mr. Stroke!

Mr. Stroke: Good AFTERNOON Ms. Elderly!

Ms. Elderly: It's not afternoon, its MORNING.

Mr. Stroke: I beg to differ it is AFTERNOON, its after 12.

Keep in mind, this happened at about 12:30 NOON, BINGO doesn't start till after 1:30 pm and both are going early to get good "seats" for the activity. In fact, they were the first there. I climb back into the bus in time to hear Ms. Elderly retort back with, "I guess it IS afternoon then."

When I returned to pick them up around 5 pm, I mentioned that I was surprised that Ms. Crazy - another regular transit rider - wasn't on the bus. Ms. Elderly had something to say about that as well.

Ms. Elderly: Well Ms. Crazy gets a ride from Mr. GuyDownTheRoad. He lives down the road from her about 3 miles. She has ridden with him a couple times, so I guess they're an Item. Well, thats what I think anyways!

Forgive me if I dissolved into fits of laughter at this revelation. If that wasn't enough, this took the icing on the cake.

Ms. Elderly: I brought home two pieces of cake. We had cake for dessert at BINGO. I didn't win anything this time, but I did bring home the cake. No icing though, thats bad for diabetics like me. I hope I can get the cake inside before my daughter finds out I have it hidden in my walker!

Licking the Icing,

The Bus Driver

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Messing With Bill Collectors

Okay, so this post has nothing to do with driving a bus, but it was too good not to share.

I admit it, i'm not the best when it comes to paying my bills on time, all the time. I do get to most of them by at least the 2nd or even 3rd notice. Not really, but occasionally, I do have bills that slip my mind. These are usually unpaid balances on a medical service that I received ONCE way back when. Normally, I'll get a bill like that in the mail, think nothing of it, then when it hits second notice, will send out the money because it slipped my mind the first time.

Two years ago in December 2008, I had a Sinus CT scan done. I thought nothing of the visit since I did not have a co-pay. My insurance covered it all, or so I thought. December 2010, I get this random phone call from an 888 number stating I had a message waiting. So I called back and a lady answers with, "Hello?" No indication that it was a company she worked for, no indication that it was a creditor looking to rectify a bill, NOTHING.

I explain my random phone call from the number, and she places me on hold with a rude, "Hold on." Then she comes back and says very snippingly, "You have an unpaid bill of $6.86 from *Radiology* for a CT scan back in 2008, you need to pay it now." It caught me off guard and being that it was right around the holidays, my first thought was that it was a scammer trying to get my information. My second thought was that if I hadn't seen a bill initially (back in 2008/2009), then I have no idea what she was referring to. Keep in mind, she answered the phone very unprofessionally, so I was right to be cautious. I told her, "Send me a paper bill, because I need to double check with my insurance that I do owe this amount. I also don't feel comfortable with giving my credit card information over the phone." She retorted with, "We wouldn't take your information anyways, there would be a 10 dollar charge to have it processed if we did."

So I hung up and waited. Two weeks later, a bill did appear in my mailbox. I had gone through my insurance claims and found the one claim they were referring to. Again, at this point I had no recollection of receiving a bill for the services at the time of the service. I put it on my "to do" clipboard and ignored it, thinking still that it might be a scam. I got another call from the same 888 number. By this time I was getting irate because they answered the phone in the same snippy tone. All this was over a bill for something that SHOULD have been simply written off. We're arguing over 6 dollars and 86 cents here.

I called the *Radiology* place directly and, after reaffirming they DID send a bill, I got told, "You're not the only one who owes $6.86." Now you pissed me off and insulted me. I had half a mind to get the money in small change, tape it to the envelope in duct tape and send it off duct taped like Fort Knox. I ended up getting a money order instead, costing me 45 cents. I also had to provide my own stamp for THEIR return envelope. So, I did the next best thing. I typed up an itemized Invoice, billing them for the cost of the stamp and for the cost of the money order. A whopping 89 cents. Looking back, I should have included the cost of the paper too. Hopefully, I pissed off the person who opened it, saw my bill to them and thought, "This is Stupid!"

My sentiments EXACTLY.

The Bus Driver

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Two Pukers, a Claustrophobic, a Fight and the Cops.

All of the above happened in the span of 5 hours on one field trip, towards the end of a Very. Long. Day.

That fateful Friday, I had stupidly accepted two field trips on the same day. Now let me preface that by saying, I've done this before with no problems, but it DOES make for a very long day in a big yellow limo. What complicated the day was that I had to complete these field trips IN ADDITION to my regular driving job. So my day consisted of the regular Morning Route, Field Trip number 1, Afternoon Route, and finally Field Trip number 2. Somewhere in the ensuing chaos, I had to schedule time to eat and go to the bathroom. This meant I leave the house at about 6 am, and don't get home until about 11 pm.

The first part of the day went off without a hitch. I drove a route in the morning, then transported a group of very well behaved middle school students to the bowling alley and then over to the mall food court for lunch. Naturally, no kid wanted the lunch packed by the school, so I managed to score about 12 free lunches in the end.

We make it back to town on time for me to drop in at home, drop the lunches off, stick them in the fridge, go to the bathroom and hit the ground running again. The afternoon route has no major problems. I'm hoping for poor weather so that my night field trip is cancelled, but no such luck.

The second field trip of the day is to a nearby blueberry field where some random guy has a telescope set up to view the various items in space. The field trip was designated for 6th grade middle school science students. Two of us drove for the trip. The school trip coordinator, Mr. Floozy, separated the students into two groups, boys and girls. I had 60+ boys on my bus, the other driver had the 70+ girls. I also had another male teacher on my bus named Mr. Military. The girls bus had Ms. Principal, and Ms. Science.

The drive only took 10 minutes, but Mr. Floozy kept trying to tell me how to drive. "Slow down, theres a car there! Don't run into that car!". Once we got to the turn off to the field, he insisted on telling me that the road was "hidden" even though there is a BIG YELLOW ROAD SIGN pointing out where the entrance is and a STREET SIGN also designating the road. I see it, ignore him and turn properly. We maneuver into this field on paths meant for a 4 wheeler or smaller tractor. Mr. Floozy then informs me that I have to make a very tight, almost u-turn, with this bus, on unstable ground in the field. I radio the other driver to hang back a bit to watch what I do, then copy me. We turn in the bus and Mr. Floozy has a panic attack because the other bus ISN'T moving! UM NEWS FLASH - I TOLD her NOT to MOVE! He then tells me no less than THREE times that the other bus MUST park BEHIND me... NOT beside, BEHIND. *face palm*

By this time, the kids notice the TWO port-a-potties in the field and the Itty Bitty Teeny Bladder Committee (IBTBC) strikes about 3 quarters of my packed bus. Naturally Mr. Floozy decides to plow ahead letting me know that the girls will go first with the activity, then the boys. But until then, the kids are to remain ON the bus. Yep. 60 BOYS, packed 3 to a seat on a bus, in the middle of a blueberry field in the middle of nowhere. THIS is going to end well!

By this time, the IBTBC is just aching to get off the bus, Mr. Floozy steps off and takes Mr. Military with him, leaving ME in charge of these rowdy boys. I had assumed that Mr. Military would be back to check in on the bus, NO LUCK. Over the course of three hours, the kids were herded on and off the buses, in freezing cold weather to look at the stars, constellations, moon, and planets visible in the night sky. A majority of this time, I was ALONE in my supervision of the boys on my bus. The girls were thankfully supervised by Ms. Principal. Towards the end of the evening, getting on and off the bus got to some of the girls and they started to feel ill and claustrophobic. Finally Mr. Floozy wrapped up the exercise and informed me that we were taking them to a nearby Dairy Queen for Ice Cream and Soda.

Let me get this straight.... you want to travel to a nearby Dairy Queen to pump 130+ kids full of sugar, and expect to keep ORDER?! ARE YOU INSANE?!?!?!

Mr. Floozy gives me directions to the DQ and complains when I go in the wrong entrance. I bit my tongue and prayed that the words Shut The F--- Up would not exit my mouth at the wrong time. Again, the girls went first at the Dairy Queen, leaving the boys to watch in dismay as they flooded the restaurant and took forever. Mr. Floozy disappeared off the bus leaving me with Mr. Military. We were finally down to the last half of the boys waiting, when Mr. Military stepped off the bus momentarily to remind the girls that there were boys waiting.

One of the boys took this exact moment to punch another boy directly in the nose. I happened to be looking up in my mirror and saw it. I stopped it, but not before the boy who got punched tried to fight back. Nose Boy (the one who got punched) came up to me with a bloody nose. I got him to calm enough to tell me who punched him. I called Puncher Boy to the front to have him readily admit that he punched the other boy. Mr. Military returned to the bus and handled the situation, called the principal of the school (who was not happy) and we returned to town. Nose Boy's mom finds out her son was in a fight and goes apeshit. She calls the cops then comes up to me and asks me if we have video on the bus. I reply calmly yes, we do, and that I would have it pulled. At this point, I had unloaded, was ready to go home, and the cops show up. Eventually I DID get to go home, but not before I was completely exhausted and spent.

NEVER AGAIN will I do a field trip for Mr. Floozy.

Floozy'd Out!

The Bus Driver.