Monday, October 28, 2013

Ms. Pretty

A funny thing happened one afternoon when I was riding a friend's bus learning her route. I sat next to a little girl who is a total chatterbox and insisted on telling me knock knock jokes the whole ride. I even got some of the other kids involved, they all wanted to talk to me at once. But what made me "awwwwww" the most was when this little girl and I had the following exchange:

Girl - Whats your name?

Me - Ms. Bus Driver

Girl - Oh, okay Ms. Bus Driver...... Can I call you Ms. Pretty instead?

Me - Sure :)

It was cute!

Prettily Yours,

Ms. Pretty (The Bus Driver)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Field Trip Fun!

It's OCTOBER! That means.... LOTS of FIELD TRIPS.

We had the Rodeo again this year and the pumpkin patch for the little ones. Then we have Disney On Ice coming up towards the end of the month. That being said, I've had lots of fun on field trips this month. I had the opportunity to transport several band students to competitions and then recently transported the drama club to a one-act play competition.

At the beginning of every field trip, we have to let the students know where the emergency exits are in the buses and how to use them. Since most of these students have heard the speech before, I typically try to make it a little fun by adding a bit of "airline humor" to it on each trip. The kids get a kick out of it and they even ASK me to do it. A typical "airline" version of the emergency exit speech might look something like this:

Me: Thank you for choosing bus number X today. We hope you have a pleasant ride, but before we go we must make sure you know where all the emergency exits are. (Insert required part of speech about emergency exits in airline style). The expected weather at our destination is X, and our expected travel time is X. Please keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle at all times and have a pleasant flight (erm.. bus trip).

Sometimes I get a little silly with things such as last night coming back from a very long competition day and some of the kids I had transported prior on band:

Me: We thank you for re-boarding bus number 1 (bus 3 for my band students!) The current weather is..... Dark.... Our expected weather at our destination is ..... Dark...... (It was after sun down and they laughed!)

It's gotten so popular that the kids actually request that I perform my "airline pre-flight instructions".

Seat backs and tray tables to their full and upright position!

The Bus Driver.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Backing Up Protocol

An Anonymous response to my previous blog on backing up has prompted me to respond here.

And please don't honk your horn when backing. you already have a backup alarm for that. We have a shoolbus driver backing up and honking the horn at 6:15 Am right outside our door. How inconsiderate and unnecessary. - Anonymous

Sometimes we have to follow certain procedure in which we were trained. State laws vary in what is considered protocol as do public and private companies. Some companies request that the driver honk the horn as part of the backing up procedure. It could very well be that this particular bus driver's company requires the driver to honk the horn prior to performing a back-up maneuver. This is for safety in the front as well as in the back. We do understand that hearing the horn and the back-up beeper can be annoying, but the driver is simply doing his/her job.

Other procedures we have to follow include how to do a proper railroad stop and what speed we should be allowed to travel on our routes. There are also regulations in how far back do we trigger the student lights and how to have students get on and off the bus. Some states and private companies require the driver to secure the bus at every single stop, and actually help students cross the road with a hand-held stop sign that a crossing guard would use. We go through training that is designed to keep us safety conscious at all times.

A bus driver had to follow procedure that she had been recently trained on when dealing with a hijacking of her bus. The incredible story here!

You never know when you might actually need to use your training to avert a situation. These procedures might seem annoying and time consuming for you, the homeowner/motorist, but in the end, we are only looking out for the safety of all of our students that board and ride our buses every day.

Safety First!

The Bus Driver

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Advice on Backing Up

I received an email from a fellow bus driver who is relatively new at the field and he asked me for tips on how to effectively back a school bus. Proper backing is an easy task once you get the hang of it. A school bus is a daunting vehicle considering its size and cargo we carry. Often people do ask me, "How DO you turn around a vehicle that large?" That being said, I do have a few helpful tips when backing up a bus for both bus drivers and for parents (and other motorists) who encounter a bus that has to back up.

For Bus Drivers:

1. Get a trusted friend to stand at the front and back bumper - body up against the bumper of the bus while you are sitting in the drivers seat. (Do this when the bus is off and secured). Have the friend move to strategic points along the length of your bus as well as standing at all 4 corners. Viewing the bus from the drivers seat allows you to understand the dimensions of your bus from looking in the mirrors. You can get a feel for how large your bus is and where your turning radius is.

2. When backing, be aware of your tail swing as well as where your rear wheels are at all times. You can control the front of the bus and the rear of the bus by remembering where your wheels are at all times. When your rear wheels clear a corner you can cut the steering wheel hard to the direction you need, and maneuver the bus effectively. (Tail swing is what happens when the front wheels make a turn and the back part of a bus follows.)

3. When backing, it is always better to back into a dead end or side street. NEVER back into a heavy congested area or on a highway if you can help it.

4. Practice, practice, practice!!! I cannot emphasize this enough. Different buses have different turning radius'. Some buses, you will have to swing wide to get the proper angle to back. Others, its as simple as pulling in and backing out a car. Play around with your bus and if you are not sure you have the right angle, you can always back out the way you went in and try again. Once you feel comfortable with your vehicle, it is good to see if you can try backing maneuvers on spare buses should your bus ever be decommissioned due to a problem.

For Parents (and other motorists):

1. When following a bus, leave enough space behind the bus so that if the bus has to stop quickly and perform a maneuver, the bus driver is not locked by your vehicle behind it.

2. If a bus pulls into a parking lot, make sure you hang back and watch where that bus is going before you blindly follow behind. The bus driver may be executing a back up procedure and needs the space to turn around and maneuver.

3. If travelling alongside a bus, be aware of the bus drivers actions. Many of us will signal when we are about to make a turn. If we are turning, make sure your vehicle is not in the way of our tail when we do swing. Sometimes we have to make slightly wider turns due to the size of our vehicle and if you are travelling in our blind spots, WE CANNOT SEE YOU! Additionally, PLEASE be considerate and don't drive in our blind spots.

4. If you DO see a bus backing up towards your vehicle, do NOT honk the horn to try to get the bus driver's attention. We are often dealing with 50 some odd children on a bus at any given time. Instead, MOVE YOUR VEHICLE out of our way. We cannot hear you honking and remaining in place will get you squished.

Hope these tips help!

The Bus Driver

Thursday, September 26, 2013

I Really Can't Make This Stuff Up!

I have not posted in a while due to other priorities, but today really was blog-worthy.

This morning, I drove a bus that is notorious for having children be at the stops late. The regular driver instructed me to leave the kids should they not be out on time as they have been told repeatedly to be out on time. I had left several stops, obviously after stopping appropriately, waiting a certain amount of time (long enough that had they been standing out, they would have boarded the bus and found a seat), and then proceeding on route. I called in each time I left children over the radio so that my actions were covered. I was even running approximately 2 minutes late due to some children RACING out of their homes to catch the bus. Overall, 80-85 percent of children were at their stops ON time.

The rule is, be at the stop 5 minutes prior to the bus arriving. Personally, I'd like to instruct all children to be at the stop and prepared at least 10 minutes prior to the bus arriving. That way they will never miss the bus if it comes early for some reason unknown. More often than not, the buses tend to run a little bit late when there is a substitute on them.

Yet repeatedly this morning, I had several children who were running from their homes. As a result, I left several of them for not being out on time. I pulled up to one stop and the two kids at that stop were out on time and waiting, then I pull to the house LITERALLY next door, and NONE of those kids are out. They had plenty of time to see me on the road, stopping at the house right next door before pulling to their stop. So, I left them. I pull up to my last stop on this route and the mom from the stop I left flags me down. I pull up and she tells me, "I'm putting my kids on this bus because well NO child LEFT BEHIND!" I told her they need to be out 5 minutes ahead of time, that's the rule. And she gets snippy with me. Fantastic.

This afternoon was equally as crazy. I had 2 elementary girls get into a fight on the bus. Turns out they are sisters. When I got to their stop, I told their guardian about the fight. She assured me it would be taken care of. When I returned to the area for my second run, I went by the house and noticed the guardian had the girls face to face linked with a belt around the waist, hugging each other. I gave the guardian a thumbs up and grinned. I think those girls will not be fighting on the bus again.

Round and Round!

The Bus Driver

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Advice for new drivers

I answer questions in email and on the web, and this particular question got me thinking. I was asked what advice could I offer new drivers (and seasoned drivers alike) in order to make the school year start out properly. So without further adieu, I give my suggestions for what bus drivers should have on hand at all times.

Kleenex - You can never have too many Kleenex. Kids are always asking for a tissue.

Paper towels - Not to be confused with Kleenex, paper towels are always handy for cleaning up spills and other larger messes such as when rain comes in the leaky roof of a bus.

Hand sanitizer - more for yourself than the kids, but some drivers keep it handy for the kids as well.

Baby wipes - If you prefer baby wipes to hand sanitizer, these can serve double duty as cleansing items for the seats and surrounding areas.

Cleaning supplies - most bus barns will provide cleaning supplies for a driver to maintain general cleanliness of their bus. This includes windex, lysol, and other antibacterial agents for cleaning the bus.

Puke powder - yes the name sounds awful but it is essential for that child that you will eventually have that vomits everywhere.

Trashcans and trash bags - again self explanatory, but if you promote a clean bus, most of the trash the children will make will find its way into the can.

Broom - A strong and sturdy broom to reach those hard to get areas, brooms also aid in killing random bugs and other pests that find their way into your bus.

Log book/folder - Your bus barn is going to ask you to handle paperwork, it is handy to have a folder to use to keep all paperwork in. It also helps to keep a current copy of your CPR certification on hand.

Bus roster - This is majorly important if you are in an accident or if a child needs to contact their parents for whatever reason. You need to know who is on your bus at any given time. This goes for bus passes too - I usually keep those for about 2 weeks, then toss them. Things in a bus roster should include the following: Name of the student, Grade/School, Address, Emergency and Parent numbers, and any allergies or special conditions one should be aware about. Your bus barn should provide a form for children and parents to fill out and return to you.

Route description - make sure a route description is handy on your bus for those inevitable days that you are going to be sick. A route description is a lifesaver for sub drivers who do not know your kids. Also, make sure a roster is attached to each route description so that the sub driver can have it available immediately in the case of an emergency.

Bus seating chart - It may be a good idea for you to assign your passengers seats. The seat assignments are also helpful for identifying problem passengers.

Clearly posted rules - these can help students realize what rules they are supposed to follow on the bus. I recommend going over the rules with each group of kids that enter your bus.

Citation/write-up folder - make sure you have a folder full of blank citation/write-up sheets. Explain to students that if they do not follow the rules they are going to get a verbal warning from you, you will talk to their parents, and then if they persist, you will write them up and turn them into the school. Explain that there are consequences for receiving a write-up such as a change in assigned seat to one of the front seats (or a least desirable location). I know of one bus driver that had all of her children sitting up front and left the back of the bus as no-mans-land. There were at least 6 seats between the last group of students and the very back of the bus. A misbehaving child was sent to sit in the last seat by himself, which wasn't viewed as a reward as there was no one around him to help him disobey.

Offer little treats and incentives - Maybe you could develop a positive behavior system on your bus. Some bus drivers use gum as an incentive, or lollypops. If the children behave (for the most part) all week, they get a treat on Fridays. You may want to have them work towards a pizza party or an ice-cream treat. When I drove for an after school program, I brought things like cupcakes, and on the last day of after school, I brought ice pops since it was so hot out. The kids will appreciate these little treats.

I hope these tips help new drivers and seasoned drivers alike as we roll into the upcoming school year in August (or September) depending on your location!

Offering Advice,

The Bus Driver

Monday, May 27, 2013

No Food (or drinks) on the Bus!

I subscribe to Google news using keywords such as "school" and "school bus". These keywords are used to pull relevant articles and then Google sends them to me via e-mail every day. The other day, there was an article that detailed a bus driver's heroic actions to save a child from choking on a piece of hard candy. The child is in 4th grade and is 10 years old, clearly old enough by some standards to handle sucking on a piece of hard candy responsibly.

Every year we go through safety training for this very reason. We learn CPR, the Heimlich Maneuver, and other ways of managing potential emergencies that arise on the school bus. None of us expect to use any of our training, but when faced with a child choking, or one having an allergic reaction or other type of emergency, we jump into action.

Parents wonder why we do not allow our students to consume food items on the buses. For one thing, it makes a mess, but the primary reason is displayed in the article above, the REAL possibility that a child could CHOKE. Parents can deny this all they want and tell us that it won't happen to their child. Thing is, this child in the article above, was a very responsible child who just happened to choke on a piece of candy which stopped her from breathing. It can happen to the most responsible of children. Choking isn't limited to candy either. Buses travel over varied terrain from dirt to paved roads, uphill and downhill, all it takes is a serious bump from the bus turning, or running over an unforeseen pothole to cause a child to inhale sharply while eating on the bus. In my district, there was a child who choked from sucking on hard candy on the bus when she was 14, so choking is a very real hazard.

Parents - the next time you ask us to make a concession for your child to eat on the bus and you get told "no" consider that we are simply looking out for your child's safety and do not want to have to perform CPR/Heimlich Maneuver to save your child because they choked on food you allowed them to bring from home and consume on the bus.

Safety Conscious!

The Bus Driver

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Food Choices and Behavior Issues in Children

Hello Blogworld!

I have been quite busy with life as of late, and have not had much of a chance to sit down and formulate a decent blog post in a while. With being back at college for a career change, my priorities lately have simply been to keep up with the ever changing schedule. I finished second semester of college strong with another 4.0 GPA, all A's (Yes, I am a high achiever - though occasionally I do have to employ the use of spell check.) Summer semester started a few weeks ago and I am going through a writing course that is required for me to complete my major. I'm enjoying the class so far and we have had some very interesting discussions which incidentally has led to this blog post. The professor asked us to complete a writing prompt on a subject of our choice, to which I chose "Food Choices for Children and How It Affects Their Behavior."

Any nutritionist will tell you that good food choices are essential to maintaining a healthy body. Children need good nutrition. Often, the only balanced nutrition they receive is through the school lunch program. Nutritionists work directly with the schools in order to balance the menu so that the students are getting the optimal nutrients for their age group. Even the White House is getting involved when it comes to providing adequate nutrition education to children. Where this process breaks down is when the children are at home. Many low income families receive food stamps, welfare, or other types of government assistance in order to keep a roof over their heads. These programs provide just enough for families to squeak by, but their food choices are limited to what they can afford.

Coming on the summer season, a lot of schools will begin offering summer nutrition programs for children under 18 years of age. They can come to the school and eat breakfast and lunch for free, or the food is delivered to sites that are set up for distribution. For many parents, this program alleviates some of the stress that is placed on them to provide for their children while still allowing the children to receive the nutrition they need.

How do food choices become a behavior issue? Well many of the foods that have low nutritional value like cereals, pasta, cookies, chips, and canned goods are usually lower in price than healthier choices like meats, vegetables, and fruits. Due to the tighter budget from being on assistance, parents will often stock up on the more inexpensive items listed above rather than ones that can provide adequate nutrition. It doesn't help that a lot of the poor nutritional foods tend to market to children by way of cartoon characters, added sugar, and the promise of a toy "prize". A fair amount of children are on medication to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), but no one stops to consider what these children are eating on a regular basis that may contribute to their hyperactivity. Sugar is not always bad, but should be consumed in moderation. When children consume too much of something, they will experience a rush, which can promote poor behavior choices.

Every day on the bus, I see children climb the steps with all sorts of junk in their hands such as sodas, candy, chips, sweetened snack cakes, or cinnamon buns. It's no wonder that later in the day or further on in the ride on the bus, these children become more active and can act out inappropriately. Sugar can have affect the body in many different ways. The behavior is also linked to certain food dyes which is found in many foods. Food will have hidden sources of sugar too, which again leads to behavior displays.

What can we do? Educate! Educate! Educate!

Offering free classes for parents on a budget will help these parents make better food choices when shopping, and hopefully in turn will help them teach their children positive nutrition. Medication can only go so far in helping children. Proper nutrition is key.

An Apple A Day,

The Bus Driver

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Answering Questions - Assigned Seat Issue.

AJ wrote:

Hi well I'm ticked off right now because I'm a 13 year old who got switched seats because this little girl's parent said a girl my age said shut up to her. Their is not even a 13 year old girl on the bus! So now I have to sit next to a second grade boy who will not shut up and keeps punching me. In my old seat I sat next to my good friend kayden who is my age. So I would love to know why bus drivers do this stuff aimed at teens

AJ -

Sometimes bus drivers have to swap some seats around just to change things up, or accommodate a situation that you are unaware of. There may be a bullying situation on the bus that we are trying to put a stop to, or prevent, by having a few kids move around.

Today, I had to move a few children around because they would not keep their hands to themselves. I let both children off with a warning not to do it again.

You mentioned that the new boy you are sitting with hits you. Let the bus driver know this and ask for a change of seat. If you are polite and ask respectfully and the bus driver can accommodate you, you will be able to move seats. Sometimes we do have to be strict though and follow through with current assigned seats. If the second grade boy does not stop hitting you, AND the bus driver does not do anything about it (either moving the boy or you to a separate seat) then I would go to your parents and ask them for help in the situation.

We don't target teens specifically, and I'm sorry you feel targeted. Ask your bus driver what you can do to be able to go back to where you were sitting before. The bus driver may be looking for good behavior and just making sure that the language on the bus is not offensive.

Hope this helps AJ!

The Bus Driver

Friday, April 5, 2013

Discipline issues?

Something really irked me this morning. A parent cussed out their child causing their child to be upset during the week where there are these BIG IMPORTANT STATE TESTS.

Parents - YOU are the role model for your child. If your child cusses, they've probably heard it from YOU. Cussing at your child for misbehavior is NOT solving the problem, but rather upsetting your child in ways you don't even know. I don't care if your child is in pre-k or is almost 18, you DO NOT cuss out your child!!!!

I often talk about ways to get children to behave, but what if the parent is the one that is out of control? Stories pepper the news with titles like "Parent arrested for threatening a bus driver" or "Mother slapped a child that was not hers." Whatever happened to personal responsibility? The blame shifts from person to person, but no one ever takes responsibility. As a parent, you are in control of the situation at hand and you are often the one who can be the biggest advocate for your child or cause the most harm to your child.

Your child looks up to you!!!! REMEMBER THAT!!!!

I am not saying that children never misbehave or do not deserve to be disciplined, but think about HOW you are treating your child when it comes to discipline. Is it fair and unbiased? Is the discipline going to harm your child more than help them? I'm not saying you need to pussyfoot around the issues either. Strong positive discipline works better than negative discipline and can take a child further in life. Having a child accept responsibility for their actions in a positive manner rather than making them afraid of the consequences for their behavior will bring about responsible adults instead of adults who deny everything because they don't want to face the reality.

EMF's "Children" really brings this home.

Be a Role Model!

The Bus Driver

Friday, March 29, 2013

I swear....

I don't recall blogging about this, but a funny thought recently occurred to me. I blog all about how the kids swear, or misbehave, but what happens if it is the DRIVER that cusses?

Well, I admit... I have cussed on the bus. Truth be told, I am human, and my reaction to a situation was one that was fairly normal given the situation at hand. I have uttered a few choice swear words (usually under my breath and inaudible to passengers) when I've had a close call while driving, or witness something that is completely insane, like someone deciding to nearly sideswipe me while trying their best to get around me in heavy oncoming traffic, but this particular situation was unique.

I cussed loud enough for ALL the kids to hear, moreover, I actually SHOUTED this cuss word. I didn't get fired, though I'm sure I caused my boss some gray hairs afterwards given that the bus that I slipped up on, is known for doing everything under the sun to get bus drivers fired. This particular bus has a rough bunch of children whose parents NEVER take any responsibility for, and when it comes to their children they actively DENY any involvement of said children in questionable activities. Let alone the child in question is WEARING the same thing that the video tape shows!!!! But that's beside the point!


Driving down the road on the way to the single stop on this route (a low income apartment complex).

Kid - (stands up and yells at the top of his lungs)... SH*T!!!

Me - (reacting to his obscenity)... WHOA!! I had better NOT hear those words come out of your mouth again or I will take your A$$ - BUTT! back to school.

Whole bus - ooooooooooooohhhhhhhh the bus driver SWORE!!!!!

Me - (still looking at the kid in my rearview) - You got a PASS this time boy!

Even though the kid swore first, and my first reaction was to yell at him for it, in turn, uttering my own swear, I can still get in trouble for it. As luck would have it, I did tell my boss, but he was understanding, and I'm sure fielded a lot of phone calls from parents whose kids went home and said "The bus driver swore at us today"... let alone what those kids actually SAY when they get on the bus. Those kids have a more colorful vocabulary than my own!!!

Cuss Free,

The Bus Driver

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


I've been in a blogging mood lately which has been largely refreshing given the fact that I have not blogged a bunch in a good long while. I got to thinking, why had my desire to blog disappeared? Then it struck me. I was burnt out. Not from blogging itself, but my jobs were wreaking havoc on my nervous system that I basically shut down anything that I had been doing as a past time. I didn't even leave my little apartment except for work.

I was working 7 days a week, often up to 60 hours a week depending on whether I had field trips. By the time I got home, my energy was just so zapped, I had absolutely no desire to do anything else. The reality was, Transit was sucking the life out of me. I worked there for 4 and a half years, the cards stacked against me from day 1, which became apparent as the years wore on, but slowly and surely my resistance wore down. Things became a chore. I hated going to work at Transit because I knew there would be some problem or another with the way things were going or how I was performing the job. When I started school in the Fall of 2012 - my time at Transit was further limited due to my course schedule, which caused even more hardships and made my supervisor over there "C" try even harder to do what she could to get me to quit. Well she won. I quit. I don't regret it for a minute. I am finally pulling myself out of the blog "funk" I was in and I am rediscovering my love of blogging, even on days like today.

This morning went something like an Abbott and Costello sketch:

After my normal good morning call to the bus shop to ascertain that I am supposed to be driving bus 69, I drive to the shop to discover that 69 is missing from the parking lot. I circle the parking lot a couple times, and look at a couple of spare buses to see if maybe someone had placed numbers on the side. Having found none, I called the bus shop and the exchange went something like this....

Bus Shop (BS) - Bus shop how can I help you?

Me - Hi, Mr. Mechanic, its The Bus Driver, what bus did you want me to drive on 69's route? Old 14?

BS - No, bus 69

Me - Its not here

BS - Yes it is

Me - No it's not

BS - YES it is, I saw it this morning

Me - Its not here....

BS - Is bus 44 on the yard?

Me - No bus 44 left already... so do you want me to use old 14?

BS - Use bus 69

Me - ITS NOT HERE... I circled the parking lot three times looking for it!

BS - Oh um, BS to 69....... <---long pause.... bus 69 go ahead BS.....

Apparently the regular driver had come and gotten her bus and was already on-route. I went and drove a different bus instead, and managed to get cussed out by middle school and elementary kids - one as young as 5 years old!!! It will be so much fun confronting the parent tomorrow morning about their children's potty mouth.

Whose On First?

The Bus Driver

Friday, March 1, 2013

Bus Accident


The word strikes fear into everyone who hears it. Who is it? What happened? Is everyone okay? The fear seems to double when there is a school bus involved. Bus accidents are scary things, though sometimes the accident can be something as simple as the bus driver hitting a stop sign, getting stuck in the mud, or getting the bus hung up on a fire hydrant (true story!). The accident could be as severe as a roll over or head on collision. These accidents can be caused by the bus drivers, other motorists, and that random garbage can that attacks the bus (they're vicious!!).

The question then becomes, "What to do in the case of an emergency involving a school bus?"

1. Don't panic. - This applies to school bus drivers as well as parents. Assess the situation. Find out what happened and then formulate a plan. If the bus is simply stuck in the mud, and there are no injuries, simply come and pick up your child from the bus or wait for the bus to get pulled out of the mud and resume regular route. The bus driver is trained to do everything in his/her power to ensure the safety of your child, even in the most extreme circumstances.

2. Injuries? If there are injuries, we call the appropriate medical personnel to come and assess your child and let them take the appropriate action necessary to ensure the safety of your child. We already do this for children that have asthma attacks, seizures, and other medical conditions on the bus that may require attention, though those are categorized as medical emergencies.

3. Supply information. Before your child starts riding the bus, we ask that you fill out an information form. This includes your child's name, address, parent's names, phone number, grade level, school, medical conditions, and who to contact in the case of an emergency. Please ensure that all bus drivers that transport your child have this information and that you keep it updated. There is nothing worse than trying to call you to notify you about a problem your child is having and finding out the phone number has been disconnected, or worse, that the school does not have updated information for your child. *** For younger children, writing in a sharpie permanent marker on the inside of their school bag with their name, and phone number, is helpful in helping me identify your child.***

4. Teach your child the basics. One of the best things for a child to know is the basics of name, phone number, parent name, and address. I once had a child who accidentally got on my bus and then realized that she should have boarded a completely different bus. She was in kindergarten and she came up to me and said, "My name is X, My moms name is X, I live at XXXXXXX, my phone number is 555-1234, can you call my mom and tell her where I am?" I contacted the bus shop, they contacted the mother (who as it turned out is also a bus driver) and the situation was resolved.

5. Severity - If the accident is more severe, such as a head on collision or the bus got rear-ended, find out if your child is going to the hospital, and then meet your child at the hospital or come pick your child up at either the accident site or a central location such as a school. Be aware that emotions will be running high as your child is understandably scared. In most cases where the accident was not severe enough to warrant all children going to the hospital, the bus shop will send a spare bus to pick up the children who are fine and just shaken up to either bring back home, or on to school, depending on the time of day. You, as a parent, do have the right to decide whether your child will just get on the other bus, or if you will come pick him/her up at the scene. Often times, we try to remove the children from the scene as fast as possible (once released by medical personnel) as we do not want to frighten them any more than they already are. Additionally for something such as the bus getting stuck in the mud, or a minor fender bender where there were no injuries at all, we will notify you as soon as possible, but rest assured your child will be taken care of and transported to the appropriate place.

Accident free!

The Bus Driver

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Things your Bus Driver wants you to know but won't tell you part 2

A while back I posted a blog entitled Things your Bus Driver wants you to know, but won't tell you and decided it was time to post a second part to this.

1. Patience - Please be patient with us, we may get held up by traffic, trains, other children acting out, other parents who stop us to talk at the stop, etc. It happens, just be patient with us, we will eventually get your child home one way or another.

2. Calling the bus shop the nanosecond your child does not walk through the door is not okay. This irritates the secretaries who are dealing with fights, people running our stop signs, and bus drivers having issues. Adding to their stress by being impolite, or cussing at them because the bus is a few minutes behind will NOT solve the issue. Instead, I suggest watching out your window. If the bus passes by and your child does NOT get off from the bus, then please do call us.

3. Your child may have fallen asleep. Hard to believe, but it happens all the time, especially to your younger children who have not quite mastered the art of staying awake on a moving vehicle. If we pass by your stop because your child is asleep, the child is NOT where I can actively see him/her in my rear view mirror. It happens, we simply circle the block if possible, or return to the stop at the end of the route.

4. If your child falls asleep and misses his/her stop, it is not fair to the other children to make them wait for your child. Accept that once your child has been found and determined to be asleep, you can do one of two things. A. Get your butt out of the house, in your own vehicle, and come GET your child at another stop. OR B. Wait until the bus driver has time to bring your child back. Yes, this means your child will have to ride the bus until the end of the route. If your child is lucky to be on a bus that simply circles the block, coming back by your house, we will stop then.

5. Yelling at us because your child fell asleep is NOT our problem. Put your child to bed. If he/she was in bed and asleep by 7-8 pm instead of out at Wal-Mart at 11 pm when you decide you just HAVE to go shopping, he/she would NOT have fallen asleep on my bus.

6. If you are worried about your child not getting off the bus, STAND AT THE STOP AND WAIT FOR YOUR CHILD!!!! Get a lawn chair and wait. If a driver sees you waiting, he/she is more likely to stop and you will not miss your child getting off the bus. This is especially helpful for "sleeper" children.

To be Continued...

The Bus Driver

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Hat Lady and a Reminder

I was recently called in for a last minute field trip and while I was sitting quietly waiting for the baseball team to complete their game, I took the time to reflect. A lot has happened over the last few years. My life has been sort of like a patchwork quilt. I moved down to where I am now for a job in 2004, the job did not work out, and two years later in 2006, I found the job that I enjoy the most.

Driving a school bus comes with its up's and down's and usually has bumps along the road that can only be described as lessons. Some of them good, some of them not so good, but most of the time lessons learned well. Being a bus driver doesn't pay glamorously of course, so I needed to secure a second job. That's where transit came into play. I was still driving a bus, just my clientele was different. I had people like Negative Ned, Milk Lady, Mrs. Elderly, and most memorable was Hat Lady. I'm sorry to report that Hat Lady has passed away. She was such an influence on my life in that she never wavered in her faith. Rest in peace, Ms. Emma.

So, I'm sitting and reflecting on this rainy day and I recall an interaction that I had with a particularly troublesome student. Bon-Bon Girl is a very challenging girl. This incident happened sometime last year and has stuck in my mind as one of the times that I've been influential as a bus driver. Bon-Bon Girl had a bad habit of disobeying substitutes and refusing to sit in her assigned seat and one hot afternoon, we got into it. She and I had a shouting match, a standoff, and ultimately a stare down in which I won, she lost. She spent the majority of the trip quipping things under her breath and basically digging herself a deeper hole. I had fully intended on writing her up for her awful behavior until she did something that surprised me. Before she got off the bus that afternoon, she stopped, and turned to me and said, "I'm sorry Ms. Bus Driver, I had a bad day at school and I should not have taken it on the bus."

I accepted her apology and drove home that afternoon with her still on my mind. I wrestled with the proper course of action. I did have the video tape pulled in case I decided to proceed and write her up, but then I weighed what would I want someone to do if I had behaved similarly. Ultimately I chose NOT to write her up, though I would have been justified in doing so. A day and a half later, I was riding that same bus with the regular driver, and apparently the incident had been on Bon-Bon Girl's mind because she came up to me and asked me directly if I had written her up for the behavior.

I told her that I know she can behave better on the bus, and that due to her apology, I chose not to write her up. That seemed to have a very DEEP impact on her because further down the line, when I drove that bus again as a substitute, she did not give me any trouble. In fact, she became one of the ones that I can depend on to tell me changes in the bus route. Sometimes the smallest display of kindness can mean a lot to a troubled child. Sometimes children need understanding rather than being written up.


The Bus Driver

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Screamer Boy Returns

I was reviewing some of my older blog posts and came across this one involving Screamer Boy. For those who do not recall, Screamer Boy was one of the riders who was very obnoxious when he rode the bus. He insisted on causing trouble and giving me problem after problem. Recently though, I had the pleasure of running into Screamer Boy again.

He was placed in Alternative school and had grown up and matured quite a bit from the time I transported him back in 2009. He recognized me when I was driving a different bus over to the Alternative school to drop him and others off, and he came up and asked if I remembered him. I asked him to refresh my memory, and then he mentioned the screaming, and it all came back to me. I smiled and said, "Yes I do remember you!" Then much to my surprise he said, "I'm sorry for the way I acted on the bus those days."


For him to apologize was huge. For him to recall what he did in 2009 to irritate me and still apologize was impressive. I was floored by his honest and heartfelt apology. I thanked him for apologizing and joked about how he was really obnoxious. He seemed to be relieved that I harbored no hard feelings towards him and that I could joke around as much as the next person. They really do mature and grow up.


The Bus Driver

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Hair Weave

Things around here have been fairly mundane. Every now and again I'll have a child who says something cute, but by the time I get home, I'm too far focused on other daily errands that I forget the whole thing. This incident, however, really stuck out in my mind as one of the more memorable ones. It serves to remind me that there is NEVER a dull moment when driving the big yellow limo.

The day started out very normal and in the afternoon, I found myself on a bus that I rarely have to drive. The driver is good about leaving a route description and "cheat sheets" with exact directions on how to turn, and where to stop. The bus serves a full area that requires the bus to do two runs in the morning, and three in the afternoon. I was driving the first run full of elementary kids and they happen to be behaving. Most of them are staying seated and I am fairly able to concentrate on the directions given. I did have to yell a few times to get them to quiet down, but mostly, I'm proud to say that the regular driver has done a fantastic job with those children.

They were quiet... too quiet.... Then chaos breaks loose. A bunch of girls stand up and I hear one of them say - "OOOOHHHH she ripped out her HAIR!!"

Oh boy. Now a hair weave is a very expensive piece of hair that is braided into existing hair. Usually African Americans pay good money (200 some odd dollars - so I've heard) to get hair weaves put in their hair. Why a parent would spend this kind of money on their child's hair is beyond me! As one can imagine, if it is pulled out.. or yanked, in this case, it is VERY painful.

Unfortunately I did not actually SEE anything being done because these girls were fighting below seat level. Though it is disconcerting to see a child walk up the aisle teary eyed with her hair in hand. I felt bad for the kid but really, I can't exactly fix it.

What exactly do you DO in that situation?!

The Bus Driver.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Day I Quit Transit

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 was... one big emotional day. I started the day off with a headache, called out from the bus shop, still didn't feel good by the time it was time for class, so took that time off too. I had to meet someone at 10:45 am ish, but the meeting got pushed to 11:30. So I took a few minutes and ran over to transit to pick up my Wednesday night schedule. That's when everything changed.

Usually I am in and out of the office in a few minutes, with a few perfunctory polite words to C the schedule supervisor. Within seconds of me stepping through the door, C says, "I need to talk to you about your time Ms. Bus Driver." I think, "Oh great, what now?" and turn to face her.

Several months back, we had a meeting which was a "get on the same page" meeting where she tried to get me fired for taking time off, violating the time off policy, and basically not doing my job. The meeting was between me, the big bossman J, and her. We each had an opportunity to speak and when it was my turn to speak, C was very rude and disrespectful, and insisted on scoffing and trying to speak over me. I have had a target on my back since I started working for Transit.

I have had incidents in the past where C has complained about one thing or another and where no matter what I do/did, it wasn't going to be enough. For example, two weeks before the November 7 confrontation, she complained about the way I parked at Wal-Mart. Apparently the fact that I pull in the fire lane at Wal-Mart to drop off and pick up just like everyone else does must be wrong. I'm usually only there for a mere 5-10 minutes at any given interval.

Weeks before that it was my uniform shirts, and still weeks before that, it was any number of things such as ... gas in the bus (if the bus is left with less than 1/2 tank people complain and it comes back on me), on my cell phone (keeping in mind, I usually only call people for business on my phone), uniform shirts again (not wearing them on weekends - which again.. is bull), parking at K-mart (fire lane issue anyone?), taking x, y, and z, home and the time it took me to take them home within an hour and a half time frame when they live in 3 different areas of the county all about 12 miles apart and are picked up at 3 different spots as well. But back to the issue at hand.

C has another employee pull my time sheets and proceeds to tell me that I am to record time a certain way on the top part of my sheet while pointing to the top of the sheet. Fine, I can do that, no problem. I tell her that I will. Then she points to the bottom part of my sheet where I put my in and out times. We are supposed to record the time in and time out per stop (or stop set) in order for them to complete payroll properly.

I've recorded my time in and out the same way for four and a half years, and now she is calling into question the WAY I've been doing it. Now she wants times to be exact since after all no one can do it the way I've been doing it. Okay. Fine. Still feeling a little miffed, but no biggie, I can comply and I tell her so, very calmly.

Then she points out on my Monday sheet where I had 30 mins from the time I dropped off my last pick up and got back to transit. I politely pointed out that the bus had less than 1/4 tank of gas in it and needed to be refilled and that the fuel stop was marked down on my sheet. Having not succeeded in frustrating me, she switched tactics and claimed when I took Mrs. G to wherever, it always took exactly 1 hour.

As an aside and to explain how we keep time - Mrs. G lives 20 mins outside of town. So if Mrs. G has a pick up time at 8:30, I clock in at transit at 8:15. I get out to Mrs. G at 8:33 to 36 ish, pick her up, by the time we get back to town its about 8:55 and we are only at the outskirts of town. It takes 7 to 10 minutes to cross town. If she wants to go to Mc Donalds, it takes that time to go across town, so I'm dropping her off by 9:03-9:05, and another 7 to 10 minutes to cross town to go back to transit again, since transit is on opposite side of town than Mc Donalds. I clock back out at 9:15 though I may reach transit any time between 9:13 and 9:17. Again, all depending on traffic. I try to keep it consistent. Since I typically clock in and out on the 1/4 hour marks to make it easy to record time... I may be getting there at 8:18, and getting back at 9:18, but to keep it consistent and easy to calculate i just round down to the 15 minute mark. The same applies if I get there at 8:12... and out at 9:18.... I will round up to 8:15, then round down to 9:15, again keeping it consistent and actually shaving 2-4 mins off my actual time.

Then it dawned on me.... I realized that C was just trying to pick a fight. If there was a real issue with the way anyone was recording their time on their sheets that she should have called a company wide transit meeting in which case the issue should be discussed along with the proper way for recording time covered. I then told C that I was not going to argue and stood up. She said, "Its not about arguing." and I again repeated I am not going to argue and went to walk out the open door. She again tried to call after me and raised her voice to get me back inside the office.

I snapped. I turned around and pointed my finger at her and shouted at her, "C, I AM DONE! EVERY WEEK IT IS SOMETHING DIFFERENT, I AM DONE!" And with that, I walked out to my car while hearing her STILL trying to talk to me and get me to come back in the office.

I lost it. I cried. I had a break down right there in my car. I called my parents. I cried some more. I kept crying all the way to my 11:30 appointment. I cried when I left my 11:30 appointment to go to lunch with my friend. I cried at lunch. I called the big bossman J and told him effective Nov. 7, that I am giving my 2 weeks notice. He asked why. I told him that I could not work with C. I have tried for 4 and a half years and still cannot work with the woman. He said "Okay, that gives you more time to focus on your school, and I'll take care of it on this end. We'll work it out."

I cried after I got off the school bus. I cried off and on for the rest of the day. I am relieved, but at the same time, angry that I let her get to me, upset that I couldn't fix it, and frustrated. I will NOT be bullied! EVER!

I'm free.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Public Service Announcement for Parents and a General Update!

First off - I want to apologize to anyone still reading this blog for my lack of blogging. I started a new chapter in my life - namely going to school for Accounting, and the time has just not been there to enjoy a past time of blogging. Speaking of Accounting, I pulled a 4.0 GPA for Fall 2012 semester and made the president's list for my achievement. I'm proud of myself. By the end of this semester, I will be in possession of a certificate qualifying me as an "Office Accounting Specialist", which basically means I will have mastered the skills necessary to do basic office accounting procedures. Now, to just get a job in the field!

In other news, I quit transit in November due to some irreconcilable differences between myself and the schedule lady. One day, I will post about what sent me over the edge and caused me to quit. The good news now is that I have plenty of time to focus on college and pursuing a career that will be much better.

Now - on to the main reason for this post. This is a subject that all parents need to read and understand.

1. Your child's regular bus driver will eventually need a day off now and again. Chances are good they got sick and the absence is unplanned. So, usually, buses will have substitutes on them.

2. Please be patient with a substitute. They don't know your child personally like the regular bus driver does.

3. If your regular stop time is X. Please be AT the stop ready and waiting to go. The substitute will try to run the route on the same schedule as the regular bus driver.

4. If you see a bus that is a different number from the normal bus, but you see the bus picking up at OTHER stops that are along the route or near your house, chances are good, the bus route has a substitute who is driving a spare bus. Additionally, there may be a mechanical problem with the original bus, and often a regular bus driver will have to drive a spare. It happens.

5. If your children get on at two separate times, please make sure both are at their regularly scheduled stops. Don't tell me that I picked up your older child on the first run, but that your younger child did not get picked up especially since I come by your house TWICE. Your older child was AT the stop, your YOUNGER child WAS NOT.

6. Calling in on me and lying about the reason your child missed the bus is not an excuse. If you saw me coming and were AT the stop like you claimed you were, clearly I would have seen you and made a concerted effort to press the brake pedal.

7. Telling me how the regular driver does it does not help me. I am not the regular driver. I depend on other children to tell me where to go, and often (as was the case this morning) I only have a route description with ROADS only, no stops on it, so I am forced to look for children who should be AT their stops. (Sense a theme here?)

8. BE AT THE STOP - Not coming out of the house, not waiting at the doorway for the bus to roll by, not expecting the bus driver to beep the horn. Every other child can make an effort to be at the stop, yours should too.

9. Getting upset at me because I did not stop directly at your driveway but only 10 feet from it, is NOT a big deal. Deal with it, I'm not perfect. I'm human.

10. Have a nice day :)

The Bus Driver