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.