“School Bus Driver Man”

Mario always managed to put a smile on my face. He was that kind of guy. He was my coworker and friend. He’s been driving for AISD nearly as long as I have. He was crazy for karaoke and sang his heart out. When we have parties at the bus barn, Chrissie and I bring our guitars and PA system to entertain the bus drivers, while Mario brings the karaoke. We would often hook up his system to our PA for a seamless shift between sets. He was a compact man from the Philippines with a big heart and genuine smile that he shared freely.

We effectively swapped bus routes a few times over the years. I once had a route that Mario had the previous year. His last bus route, 1106, was one that I drove a few years ago. It was not long ago when we did our last field trip together.

Mario had a great hat collection. I’ll always remember his smile and his hats.

A coworker told me that Mario’s health had diminished and that he was in hospice care. I wanted to see him but my schedule was so busy. On Tuesday I had a field trip to a nature preserve. The forecast called for rain in the afternoon. In an effort to outrun the storm, the group boarded my bus early. As a result, we returned to the school an hour ahead of schedule. The school happened to be in the neighborhood where Mario was. I called Cindy, my supervisor, and asked if I could drive the bus to visit Mario before I had to be at my next school. Cindy had just returned from visiting Mario and she said, “Yes, please go.”

Mario was not able to talk at this point. His responses were subtle but his family assured me that he could hear me. I played my guitar for him. Then his wife asked me to play School Bus Driver Man because he loved that song. He responded in movement while I sang. He passed from this world a few hours later.

I wrote School Bus Driver Man for my friend Johnny McCarty on Jan 3, 2003, the day that he died.

I sang it for Mario on Apr 23, 2019, the day that he died.

The song fit too well, especially the last lines:

He waits at the high school in mid afternoon

He sits with his friend and they’re singing a tune

The kids stop and listen but it’s over too soon

For that School Bus Driver Man

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3 thoughts on ““School Bus Driver Man”

  1. I’m so sorry about Mario.  I knew who he was, but I never got to know him very well.  I’m glad you got to sing for him one more time, and that he got to carry your song with him on his next great adventure.Take care, my friend,Janice

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are a lovely human being Jimmy Joe. Thank you for always sharing your stories. I feel now like I new Mario and imagine that he was such a gift to the world, especially his kids on that bus. I too am now signing the school bus driver man. Be well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jimmy Joe, thank you for this lovely tribute to Mario. The family is deeply touched and eternally grateful for the outpouring of love and support from the Staff at the Bus Barn. Your visit and music meant a lot to Mario and to the family. He will always be remembered for his love of music
    and his joyful personality. We miss him immensely but we know that he is in a place where Heavenly music and Love surrounds him forever. You are a gentle soul and Mario is blessed to have you as a friend.

    Liked by 1 person

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