My latest stupid school bus trick:
The minute I depart from the elementary school in the afternoon to take the kids home I pick up the microphone and say, ”Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?…”
The kids often ask me to turn on the air conditioner. I always reply, “I’ll turn it on when we get on the highway. Just keep your windows open!” This is Austin. It’s not like it’s hot… every single day of the year!
Today I was driving a spare bus while the route bus was in the shop for a brake job. The spare bus didn’t have the fancy three point seat belts like the new buses. It had the old simple lap belts. I told the kids to buckle up. A few of them asked for help. I looked around and noticed that the five-year-olds were putting the belt over one shoulder. It occurred to me that these kiddos had never seen a lap belt! One more item to add to the “Make Jimmy Joe Feel Old” list.
The Good Old Days/There’s an App for That
I pulled up to the bus stop this morning and saw two figures in the darkness approaching the bus from the side street. As I got close to the stop I could see that it was a mom and daughter running to the bus. While the daughter boarded the bus her mom said, “I love this app!”
I said, “What app?”
She held up her phone and said, “This new app shows me exactly where you are and when you’ll be here.”
I looked at her phone and saw what appeared to be a GPS screen with a dot in the middle that represented my bus. Not only is Big Brother watching but little brother and little sister and their parents are watching now as well. You too can track my progress with a simple download.
My first experience with this was several years ago when I was driving to New Braunfels to pick up a group at Schlitterbahn Water Park. It was a one hour drive in the empty bus so I put the pedal to the metal on I-35. The bus was governed at a top speed of 62 miles per hour, well under the posted speed limit but in excess of the state school bus speed limit which nobody ever pays attention to (or so I thought.) I was cruising down the highway minding my own business when a voice came over the radio, “Jimmy Joe, slow down!”
Last week I was called out for making an unauthorized stop on my route. On my way to stop #1 I pass stop #5 where a young girl is waiting early every morning with her dad. I saw no harm in picking her up before stop #1 but somebody saw it otherwise. So now I have to pass by the girl and her dad and wave to them to not come to the bus as I proceed to stop number 1,2,3 & 4. Then and only then can I come back around to that same street and pick up the girl at stop #5. Makes a lot of sense right?
Back in the good old days the administrators would say, “Nobody knows the bus routes like the bus drivers so bus drivers please help us out. Give us suggestions on how we can improve the routes since you experience them first hand every day.”
Those days are long gone. Now the routes are all put together on a computer programmed by someone sitting in an office who has no concept of the reality on the streets and no desire to listen to the people driving the routes.
Back in the good old days we would find ways to get to our destinations and write out our own directions. On field trips my friend Patty and I would often get lost trying to find new routes back to the school but we never got in trouble and we always found our way. We had fun.
Way back in the good old days when I was a new bus driver, the old-timers spoke about the good old days. They described their method of cleaning out the bus. They would drive on the highway and the air circulating through the open windows would push the trash to the front of the bus. Then while driving full speed they would open the door and the trash would fly out of the bus onto the side of the highway.
When a student was misbehaving the driver would just pull over on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere (and back then there was a lot more nowhere,) and send the kid on his way for the Long Walk Home.
Well, maybe some good old days are better left in the past.