That Special Lottery

Every bus driver experiences it. Every bus driver dreads it. It happens once in a great while and can’t be avoided. Today I won that special lottery.
“SOMEONE THREW UP!”
The cry came from somewhere near the back of the bus. I was taking the elementary kids home and made it halfway through the route when it happened.
“It smells bad!” said one girl.
The other kids chimed in as they craned their necks to see the damage.
“What did he eat?”
“Looks like carrots.”
“I think I see beans.”
“Who puked?”
“He must’ve had grape juice.”
“I think he had apple sauce.”
I pulled the bus over to check on the boy. He said he would be okay the rest of the trip.
As these things go it was not that bad of a mess, however, the Body Fluid Cleanup Kit was woefully inadequate. I threw a greasy rag down to contain the mess until the rest of the kids were dropped safely at their stops.
I was two stops from the end when I heard the first signs of a possible chain reaction. A voice from the back said, “It smells really bad and my stomach hurts!”
“I think I’m getting sick!”
I said, “Hang in there, you’re almost home!”
I wanted to drive fast but I knew that would make it worse, especially around the curves. We finally made it to the last stop without incident. The parents at the stop thought the bus was flooded with vomit from the way their kids described it.
I pulled over to clean up the mess. The cleanup kit showed signs of budget cuts. There were a few grains of stuff similar to kitty litter, latex free gloves and a biohazard bag but no disinfectant. Just then one of the dads asked if I needed anything. He offered paper towels and disinfectant. I said I had plenty of paper towels but I could sure use some disinfectant. I put the towels to work while he went  home to get a bottle of 409. I welcomed the harsh chemical smell. I sprayed half the bottle, handed it back and thanked him. On to the middle school.

ps – I just filled a big container with kitty litter. Tomorrow morning the Lion bus will be equipped with Puke Protection!

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Remembering 9/11/01

I drove my route that morning like always. When the kids were safely tucked away in school and the bus parked in its spot I walked into the building at the bus barn to clock out. People were crowded around the television and I could hardly believe what I was seeing. I went home and turned the radio on (I had no tv) and heard that the towers had collapsed. I remembered my own 6th grade field trip to New York City. One of the highlights was taking the elevators 110 stories up to the roof of the World Trade Center. I tried to call my family in New York. My sister Amy was working in Manhattan at the time. After a while I got my parents on the phone and they heard from Amy and she was ok, just rattled and having a hell of a time trying to get home to New Jersey. I went back to work that afternoon. I didn’t want to but the kiddos needed to get home and I didn’t really want to be alone either. A six year old boy asked me why I was wearing all black and why I looked so sad. I said, “Because a lot of people died today.” He asked how and I told him. He asked if it was an accident and I said no, it wasn’t an accident. He said, “You mean they did it on purpose? That’s so stupid!” I agreed with him. I hadn’t thought about why this boy didn’t know about the attacks. The school probably thought it best to leave it up to the families. The boy asked and I told him.