School is back in session and it’s time for my annual public service announcement and soapbox rant.
PLEASE STOP FOR SCHOOL BUSES WHEN THEY’RE LOADING OR UNLOADING AND WATCH FOR CHILDREN!!!
I hate using all caps but this is important.
I can’t begin to tally the number of cars that have illegally passed my bus in the past two weeks. The good news is that I don’t have to. The cameras and police do the counting.
It was the first week of school when chaos rules the land and kids often miss their bus stops. I had just dropped off three or four kids at a stop and proceeded on. I immediately pulled over to sooth (silence) a screaming child when a man knocked on my door. I looked up and my brain registered the face as one I had just seen when I was unloading at the corner. I assumed it was a dad looking for his child who missed the stop. The man said, “Did you honk at me?”
Then I realized that he was not waiting at the corner with the other parents, he was in the car that passed my loading lights!
I said, “Yes, I did.”
He said, “I feel like you turned on your red lights at the last minute!”
I said, “Sir, I opened my door and tapped my horn to alert you when I saw that you weren’t going to stop.”
He said, “You can’t just open your door when I’m driving down the road at 30mph!”
I said, “Yes sir, I can. That’s why we have warning lights.”
Some drivers see me coming, make eye contact with me, and give me the stink eye when they pass the bus. One woman raised both hands in a WTF gesture. Not only did she knowingly pass a school bus that was letting students off, she did it with no hands on the steering wheel!!! WTF?!
In the nearly twenty years I’ve been driving a school bus I cannot recall in any of my training where I am required to stop and let traffic pass before I open my door. If it’s in the afternoon and I’m approaching a stop and I see that the oncoming driver has had little time to react, I will wait, as the kids are safely contained in the bus. In the morning it’s a different story. The kids are out there, hopefully waiting at the stop, but sometimes they’re late and running to catch the bus. In the morning, for the safety of the children, I don’t wait to activate my loading lights. They’re on the moment the bus stops. Consider yourselves forewarned!
We’re two weeks into the school year and the temperature has topped out in the hundreds every day until the Labor Day storms rolled in. Austin is experimenting with a few new air-conditioned buses but the vast majority including mine, have the old 24-50 AC. That’s 24 windows at 50mph. According to my dashboard thermometer, it has been 112-115 degrees in the bus every day. It dipped down below 80 Friday morning for the first time since school started. We’re all thankful for the cooling trend and look forward to some crisp 90s this week.
Enough of my rant. I’m probably preaching to the proverbial choir anyway. On to the fun stuff!
On the first day of school, I pulled up to a stop where a mom and her two kids were waiting. She said, “There’s one more hoofing it down the street.”
I waited for the girl and her mom who was trying to keep up with her. When they got to the door I saw that the mom was a musician friend of mine. Her seven year old had never taken the school bus before and my friend was nervous to let her ride until she saw me. Every morning Scarlett says ‘I love you!’ to her mom at least three times as the bus pulls away from the curb.
It’s a great way to start off the day. Scarlett sets a fine example.
A four-year-old girl boarded my bus one afternoon on the second day of school. She was very excited. She said, “I have a new backpack and look, it’s pink! And my shirt has little pom poms. They’re blue and pink!”
She then said, “I was sick but now I’m good and I’m so happy! And this day is lovely and I love this lovely day!”
How can I not love this job?