Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Things I Learned From Being a Bus Driver

When someone says they are a school bus driver what do you think?

  1. They cant find another job
  2. Non-educated
  3. Fat, ugly, dirty, un-kept
  4. Unmotivated
  5. Mean
I am sure the list can go on for a few more, but you get the point. As most of you know I drove a bus for 7 years. Yes, 7... This was not my life's goal, or even a glimmer of a thought when I was going to college. Life happens.
There I was married with 4 kids living on Kurt teaching salary. To say the least we were struggling. We had a friend come over and bail us out a of a situation and mentioned that I should take a serious look at being a bus driver. He said I could bring my kids with me and it would help out the family. To his face I said "ya, sure, great idea..." Before the door even clicked shut I told Kurt, " are you freak'n kidding me! I AM NOT going to drive a bus! Who does this guy think I am?" I was so upset. As some more bills came in I realized I needed to put my pride aside and just bite the bullet.
Off I went to training, I had to study rules, and know parts of the bus that most would not have a clue. The people I met had more heart and understanding then most of my friends that had "it" all. (none of my friends really have it all, some just think they do). I tested with the state and passed. Now I have a CDL license and can drive a bus and a truck.
I would pack up my 4 kids every morning and drive to the bus station unload 2 car seats, 4 kids , and only one would head off to school. Abby would sit next to Sophia to pump her with food and drinks for the ride and Brock would have other kids sit with him and just chat w/ him.
Winter sucked! The buses had to be warmed up so I would have to leave early, go start the bus, jump back into my car with the kids and wait till the ice was a bit melty so I could scrape it all off. What the hell was I thinking taking this crappy ass job. I am going to strangle the guy who said this would be good for our family. Ya, he's a guy, and failed to remember I have 4 kids in tow and 2 car seats that get dragged back and forth from car to bus and back twice a day.
Winters in New England suck... They suck worse if you are a bus driver. Ya, I was in charge of 50+ kids and had to get them to school and home safely. I had a route that was curvy, hilly and down right ruthless! Many times I would pull over after all the kids were off and just cry because of the shear emotion of thinking we could all go over the edge if I made one wrong move.
My first year I didn't have much interaction with the kids, I figure I was "just" their bus driver. I also thought I was only doing this for a year so why bother getting to know these kids. As June rolled around and the year was coming to a close my manager asked if I wanted the same route for next year... "Sure"... What just came out of my mouth? OMG, I am going to do this again? I must be seriously mental. I lost my mind.
Summer came and I realized I missed some of those kids that must of thought I was mute. I knew I had to go back with a different attitude. September started and on marched the little cherubs. I would say "hi", or "good morning" to them and they would just look at me like I was a crazy bus lady. As time went on these kids would talk to me about school, home, issues, they would ask me questions and we as a bus all got to know each other. There were time the whole bus would be singing, or all laughing at something someone said or did. Fridays kids could sit where they wanted to and I would bring a treat to the "rider" of the week. This was someone that helped out with picking up my bus, helping another student or just that real sweet kid.
Each year I would see kids come and go. I grew to love these kids and there families. There were a select few that I wanted to hit the breaks when they were standing, but very few. I see former students in the stores and around town and kids still say hi to me.
So after 7 years, many students, and many great people at Goffstown Truck Center, I realized being a bus driver was the best job for me at that time of my life.
So if your kids have a bus driver take the time to thank them for taking your kids to school safely each day and understand they are people that are doing what they enjoy and don't think or them as the 5 things listed above!


~Jennifer Duval said...

That was fabulous, I just completed my fifth year and honestly couldn't think of another job that I want to do at this stage of my life! I love going to school events and having the kids run and hug me "HI Mrs.Jen" Like I didn't just see them a few hours ago. Have an awesome summer and I will be driving that bus for my sixth September!

Kristen said...

I can't tell you how many times I thought to myself, sitting in my classroom in Windham, how amazing and patient bus drivers are and how they have the hardest job in the school district. I knew I NEVER could do it - I couldn't handle the pressure and the stress of it (I'd be pulling off the road to cry every day!). ( ; And now that I'm home with our 2 boys and I think of you dragging your car seats from car to bus every morning in the freezing NH winters - well, you're simply my hero! Was just catching up on your blog. Thanks for sharing. Love to that incredible family of yours!