First things first, let me be clear that I love being a school bus driver. I love “my” kids and all the crazy things they say and do. But the adults I have to deal with? Let’s just say that I’m glad that it’s the kids that I drive around.
These are just a sampling of the things I’ve heard during my time as a driver:
1. “My children will never ride the bus, it’s too dangerous.” A bus is designed to be safe without seat belts. That’s why there are tall padded seats. As a driver, I cannot see the lap of every kid on my bus and someone would get hit in the face by an unbuckled seat belt. Your child has a higher chance of being in an accident while you drive them to school. Even if the bus is hit, it sits high off the ground so the damage isn’t done to the area where the kids are (in most cases). Basically, in your average car vs. bus collision … the bus WILL win.
2. “My child was bullied on the bus and you did nothing.” Sadly this happens. We do our best to take care of it. Those who are bullying get in trouble–this often involves a trip to the principal, a call to their guardians, and if it is severe enough, they are not allowed to ride the bus anymore.I have parents call and tell me I didn’t deal with it when their child was being called names on the bus. I always want to say: “Did YOUR kid tell me there was a problem? No, they did not. I have up to 77 kids on my bus and there is ONE me! I am sorry I didn’t hear your kid get called a poopyhead in the LAST seat on the huge bus. I was making sure the kids crossing the road were not run over by the ASSHOLE going 50 in a 35 zone and texting, while I could hear his music over my BUS ENGINE (and previously mentioned 77 kids) and flying by the GIANT YELLOW BUS WITH FLASHING LIGHTS!” But I don’t.
3. “Are you sure it was my kid?” Yes, I am sure that your child, who I have driven since he was in kindergarten (and is now in 5th grade), was trying to strangle his seatmate. Thirteen other kids also say it was your child. It is NOT the first time we have talked about this. Yes, I do have to write a report about it. Yes, there is a chance your child will be suspended from bus rides for the near future. I am not visually impaired. If I were, I would not be allowed to drive the bus.
4. “Well, the other kids hit him first.” And … the other kid is also in trouble and I just got off the phone with his mom who swears her son would never do such a thing (see above). That does not mean your kid has the right to punch him back. Golden rule, two wrongs don’t make a right, ring a bell?
5. “Oh yes I know, he/she is a trouble maker.” This really just means, “I know my kid is a pain in the ass, but I am not going to do anything about it.” I am sorry parents, but seriously, remember who is the parent and who isn’t and grow a pair. Put on your big girl panties and tell your kid he/she needs to straighten up or they will be walking to school.
6. “What do you mean you won’t come to my house?” I live in Vermont. There are a lot of roads we can’t go up. We do not drive up private roads, and other roads we simply make it up. We also need a safe place to turn around, and what might be a nice, easy road in the summer or even fall when school starts is not easy in the Winter when there is ice and snow. We are a bus, not an ATV.
7. “I am so sorry I am late.” I don’t care what your reason is. You made every other child arrive home late because you couldn’t get to your kid’s stop in time. No, I will not drop your Kindergartener off at the bottom of the 3 mile hill to wait for you.
8. “I am sorry, I didn’t see you.” You would be amazed how many people say this after driving by our lights. I am glad all my kids crossing the road are trained to wait for me to give them a thumbs up before crossing. My response (in my head, if not out loud) is “You didn’t see me? The BIG YELLOW bus with the FLASHING LIGHTS and the FLASHING STOP SIGN? Should you even be allowed to drive?”
9. “It wasn’t me who passed you.” We call in the license plate numbers of those who pass our lights. In fact, our kids are trained to read them and tell us what the plates are. The police call the person, and they tell the cops it wasn’t them. Oh, so it was not you in the car with the specialty plate that says PASSBUS that is cherry red and a 1966 mustang convertible with the white wall tires that was driven by a female with blond hair, at 3:17pm at the Grille? My bad.
10. “How can you possibly do your job and not kill someone?” A school bus driver is not a glamorous job. I love the hours; I get my kids’ vacations off and I don’t have to pay for after school care. But more than all that, I love it.
I love watching the kids grow up; the Kindergarteners from my first year of driving are now in 5th grade. I love hearing about lost teeth and won games. I love seeing last year’s 7th grade boys coming back after the summer, standing 3 inches taller.
Are there days I want to duct tape them all down? Yes.
Do I have to stop on the side of the road and put the fear of bus drivers everywhere into them? Yes.
Then there are the days you get a hand drawn card telling you that you are “The bestest diver in the whole word.” These are the days you treasure. These days make it all worthwhile.