I just got back from a wonderful week in the Pacific northwest. Music conference in WA, three gigs in Portland, one show and an anniversary with my better half at a picturesque Inn on the stunning Oregon coast. Topped it off with a very nice song circle with some musical friends.
I did not want to leave.
I left the wonderfully chilly autumn of the northwest for steamy central Texas. I was sweating the moment I stepped outside at the airport in Austin. It was another 90 degree October day.
Fortunately for me the cold front arrived right on my heels. I woke up Sunday morning to a breezy 70 degrees!
There was a chill in the air when I left for work Monday morning. It was time to shift back to school bus driver mode, a challenge after a lovely trip like the one I just had.
I heard “Welcome back!” from a few coworkers. I clocked in, picked up my route sheet and started to slip into my morning routine.
I got back into the groove as I ran the elementary route. After I dropped them off at school I had a few minutes to stop at a park, stretch, and enjoy the cool morning air.
As I turned the corner I was happy to see that familiar sight. The dozen or so kids at the first stop were playing ball in the street. Every one of them. When they saw the bus a boy threw the ball back onto the front lawn where it belonged. They gathered their things and boarded the bus, all smiling and laughing. One boy said, “I’m so happy you’re back!” and gave me a high five.
I asked the girl in the front seat (as I do most days) who won the sportsball game. She said, “The tree did!”
A few weeks ago while the kids were playing, the ball got stuck way up in the tree. Apparently the tree decided to keep it.
It makes me so happy to see these kids playing ball every morning. Not a single one of them is looking at a screen!
After the middle school kids were safely delivered I went to pick up the high school students. I got another high five. They were happy to see me!
I returned to work in the afternoon and it was still in the seventies and breezy!
It was Bus Driver Appreciation Day. I had no idea until I received a couple of small gifts and some words of thanks. A little girl said, “I missed you!” and melted me with her smile.
It was nice to feel appreciated.
I did have to retrain the kids to sit down. They somehow forgot the rules while I was gone. A teacher said they were out of control crazy when I was away.
I like to speak to my elementary kids in the muted trombone voice of the unseen adults in the old Peanuts animations. I picked up the microphone and said, “Wah, wah wah wah, wah wah wah wah wah wah wahhhhh. Do you all remember what that means?”
They said, “Sit down and put your seat belts on!”
Yes! They have no idea where it comes from but they know what it means!
I have a new middle school student. I asked him if he knew where his stop was. He looked it up on his phone. It was a Blackberry. Brave kid, bringing that dinosaur phone to school. Another boy started to explain how people used Blackberry phones in the old days, like in 1979.
I said, “What?!? We didn’t have cell phones in 1979! Not even Blackberrys! I had a Blackberry and it was not 1979!”
It was a beautiful day.