I used to think that cleaning public restrooms would be one of the worst jobs ever. But, over the years, I have changed my mind. I do believe that being a school bus driver has to be one of the most taxing jobs of all.
Being a bus driver AND being stopped by a long coal train. Yikes
As an elementary school teacher, I get to hear bus stories every single day. And then I remember my own.
I didn’t really ride a school bus for the first three years of my education. I attended a stupid private school, Sacred Heart of Mary Academy. Sister Maria drove our little van/bus. She was one mean zebra. I didn’t open my mouth for three years on that bus, for fear that she would make me become a nun. And Dear God, I did not want to become a nun. I watched her as she drove that van/bus. She wore black hose under that nun outfit, and black shoes that looked like walking shoes, but a really ugly version. I had to sit up front with her because of my intense motion sickness, which she frequently told me, “was all in my head.” One day after she said that, I looked over at her, and threw up. I heard my mom relay the story to my dad that night from my eavesdropping hiding place.
“Vickie threw up on Sister Maria today…( I could hear my dad laugh)..She told Vickie it was all in her head…..Vickie should have told her that “Now it is in your lap.”
I thought that was funny. I decided to tell Sister Maria that the next day. It didn’t get that far.
“Vickie, you aren’t going to get sick anymore on my bus, are you?” She looked at me and I could swear I saw real flames flickering in her eyes. I was scared to death of her. So scared….
that I threw up on her again. Well, I missed her, but caught her black hose and sensible shoes. Rice krispies and milk to be exact. I remember.
Not good. Not good at all. She was going to beat the shit out of me. I just knew it. Or I was going to have to wear a nun outfit and carry rosary beads and whisper while I touched each one.
She was always pissed. She drove like she had road rage. I thought she was mad at Jesus for making her be a bus driver. Her rosary that hung around her waist made a noise each time she shifted gears. Which was all of the time. She ran a stop sign one day and we hit another car. I sat in the back of the van after that and got car sick because I could no longer watch the road.
I finally got to switch to public school, and that meant I would get to sit with my bff Ramaine on the bus every day. She and LeeAnn would walk up to my house and we would go stand in Dragovich’s driveway and wait for the school bus. We didn’t carry back packs back then, so we put our lunch boxes and books down on the driveway in a straight line, which meant we had a place in the bus line. I had a Beanie and Cecil lunchbox.
I was so excited to be able to ride on such a huge transportation machine. You could even fit three kids in one seat. Our bus driver was not that nice, however. I surely understand why. Kids are nuts.
When I was in junior high, I was kicked off of the bus for three days. My mom was furious with me. My friend, LeeAnn, who lived down the street, was kicked off with me, but I don’t think she was the main player. My bff Ramaine was kicked off as well, which would normally be the case, as we were always partners in crime. Even if we didn’t do something wrong, we would always be found at fault because we would still be laughing long after the particular episode. I think LeeAnn was, as Ramaine said, “Guilty by association.” Three in a seat and all. But, one of us had some styrofoam and it just happened to make an intense high pitched squeaking noise when placed upon the wet bus window. “Squeak squeak squeak.”
The bus driver yelled at us to stop.
“Squeak squeak squeak.” giggle giggle giggle.
And we were promptly thrown off of the bus. What the hell happened to getting three, maybe four warnings before punishment is inflicted?
I was pissed. I think the bus driver was mad at me anyways for puking on the bus so much. That’s another thing that I don’t envy about the life of a bus driver: cleaning up after motion sick urchins like myself. Every afternoon I would ask him to turn down the heat. He must have been cold natured, because the trip home was unbelieveably warm. He would just tell me to crack my window, which was too late for my churning stomach. And I would throw up. And I am serious that this happened at least twice a week. Ramaine would yell, “Vickie threw up! Raise your feet!” because you know, the vomit did flow like a river. Sorry. Since the bus driver wasn’t dressed like a nun, I finally realized that I indeed had motion sickness.
So, yeah, Ramaine, LeeAnn and I were kicked off of the bus. I am sure that drove the bus driver nuts. I behaved myself the best I could. Well, no I didn’t. We did weird stuff on the bus. We made up a poem, that started off quiet and then kept getting louder each time. I will insert my name into the saying, but we would take turn putting each of our names in it:
“Vickie Vickie two by four, couldn’t get past the bathroom door. So, she went on the floor. Licked it up and asked for more…..(louder) Vickie Vickie two by four, couldn’t get past the bathroom door. So, she went on the floor. Licked it up and asked for more…(louder)”
How weird we were. We would keep doing it until the bus driver yelled at us to stop. I can’t even imagine what he went through with us. Sure, I teach elementary school and I have the kids all day. But, they become different creatures once they climb up the stairs to the bus. I know, I’ve been on field trips with them. And I know, I’ve been one of those demented kids.
And my God, the songs we sang. This alone should have driven a bus driver to drink. We sang whatever we learned in school. And a song we made up about the Salvation Army. Some of the lovely tunes we sang over and over and over again were hits such as “Waltzing Matilda,” “Jump Down Turn Around, Pick a Bale of Cotton,” “Playmate, come out and play with me…..,” and my personal favorite, “I had a Little Driedel..” Riding the bus was so much fun.
High school kids still rode the bus when I was in school during the mid seventies. Only kids who left to go to an after school job were allowed to drive. We mellowed as we got older, but I did hear that our old bus driver didn’t fare so well. Now, I don’t know if this was a rumor or not, but we heard that old Jack either reached retirement and decided to pull a prank on the kids, or that old Jack lost his mind and went on one last bus run. I had just graduated when I heard he did this.
Jack approached each of his bus stops. He stopped, opened the door, and just before the first kid in line placed his foot on the first step, old Jack would laugh a crazy laugh, quickly close the door and would go to his next stop where he did the same thing. He did it with all of his stops.
Never to be seen again.
Fast forward many years, circa 1992. I now have two children. Adam is in school and he was supposed to get off of the bus twenty minutes ago. He is only six years old. The bus is extremely late. I call the school and then the bus garage. Where the hell is he? I immediately think that he was kidnapped by a crazed bus driver. I know how they can snap.
Adam finally got off of the bus forty five minutes late. He was laughing as he ran down the driveway.
“Mommy, mommy, the bus driver got lost.” Apparently there were only two students left on the bus and the substitute bus driver got lost somehow. But, that’s what my little red-headed sweet cherub told me. I then received a phone call to come into school the next day.
Apparently, my son decided to screw with the substitute bus driver, telling him to turn right here and turn left there. He had him on roads that really weren’t roads. Adam was having a blast. His friend, Tyler, however, was crying. The bus driver kept following Adam’s directions. A six year old kid. Who the hell listens to a six year old kid? They were going to kick him off of the bus for a week because of the prank, until his teacher spoke up and said that it was the substitute’s fault for not following the route left by the normal bus driver. Sheesh.
Well, Adam’s bus adventures were only beginning. He was kicked off the bus for fighting with Tyler, the kid who got lost with Adam. Adam apparently punched Tyler in the face. I was horrified.
“Adam, did you punch Tyler in the face?” Adam nodded.
“I had to Mom, it was the only way to get him to stop strangling me.” I guess they started fighting and Adam ended up lying in the aisle. Tyler was straddling him, strangling him.
The final time Adam got kicked off of the bus was for fighting over an open window. Adam wanted it closed. The kid in front of him wanted it opened. So, after arguing, and pushing back and forth, the bus driver threw them both off of the bus for two weeks. Two weeks? Are you kidding me? That bus driver was really fed up.
So, I came up with a plan. I called the parents of the other kid involved and asked if they wanted to car pool. I would drive the boys one week and they could drive the next. That would teach them to fight each other. The parents loved the idea and so we took turns driving our bus heathens to school each day.
In the end, I really feel for bus drivers. They have these kids lives in their hands, yet get dealt a terrible hand with misbehaved kids. It’s always been like that and will continue to be like that until duct tape and rope are applied to the mix.
Poor bus drivers.