It’s been a few weeks since I parked the bus and began adapting to the current way of life. I have been catching up on sleep, getting some work done on the house, and writing songs. However, I do miss the kids. I miss being part of their everyday school experience. I miss the sense of purpose as a school bus driver. With lessons moving online, will future demand of bus drivers be reduced? Only time will tell.
Fortunately I have a treasure trove of memories from which to pull.
A kindergartner said, “In two days my friend’s dad had a baby.”
As I was processing his statement, the boy said, ”I have a field trip today. Will you be my bus driver?”
Me: “Sorry, I won’t be driving. Who do you think will be driving today?”
Boy: “Miss Jessica. When I was in college Miss Jessica was the bus driver.”
Me: “Which college did you go to?”
Boy: “Texas College.”
The conversations get a little deeper in middle school.
A middle school girl said, “Mr. Bus Driver Man Sir, can I eat your kidneys?”
I said, “No, I’m still using them.”
One day a six year old boy said, “Do you know The Simpsons? The bus driver looks like you.”
I took this as a compliment. People often compared me to Otto in my early days, before most of the color ran from my hair. One time my employee badge came apart and my picture fell out. I downloaded and printed a picture of Otto from The Simpsons and pasted it onto my badge. No one questioned it until my field trip to Sea World in San Antonio one summer. I dropped off the kids at the entrance, parked the bus and went back to the front gate with my badge. Most places allow the bus drivers to enter with their group, free of charge.
The ticket taker was not impressed. He said, “That’s not you.”
I said, “Yes it is.”
“No, that’s a cartoon. I can’t let you in with that.”
So I explained about the badge and told him I drove 99 miles at 50mph with a bus load of screaming kids. Ultimately he let me in and I had a wonderful day.
As it turns out, I have a real life connection to Otto. My friend Mike Reiss has been writing for The Simpsons for three decades. I asked him if I could claim that Otto was modeled after me, even though Otto was a bus driver long before I was. Mike said it was more likely that I was modeled after Otto. There may be some truth to that.
Time for a shameless plug. Last year Mike and I collaborated on a song and subsequent video. It’s called The Ballad of the Three Bean Salad. You can find it on Youtube.
A third grade girl ran to the bus all excited one afternoon. She said, “My two friends just met for the first time and they decided to get married in school tomorrow!”
The next day the girl said that her teacher found out and told them they couldn’t have a wedding in school.
The following week the girl was giddy again.
She said, “My friends decided to have a video game wedding!”
I said, “What’s a video game wedding?”
She said, “Their avatars are getting married in a video game!”
This was a few months ago. These kids were way ahead of the game with physical distancing!
Stay safe and healthy!