Sunday, November 18, 2012

Crash... Boom ... Bam!

In the last 30 days I have been driving my bus thinking to myself about what my next blog should consist of. Every time I think I have it all thought out and get ready to write it something else happens that is blog worthy. Well, this month the blog worthy material consists of crashes and other drivers. In my life time as a bus driver ( 11 years ) I think that in the last month we have had the most accidents in our fleet that has ever taken place since I have been here. Now let me clarify on what I mean by accidents, because many people automatically think the bus is as fault but in reality it is the other driver or objects that cause this mishaps. We have had multiple people rear end the buses this month. In one case the bus was stopped at a stop loading students and the driver felt a jolt in the back. When she looked up in the mirror thinking that it was the students in the back jumping around, the kids started shouting “ we have just been hit!”. You see buses are pretty heavy and are high off the ground so when I car rear ends a bus, the car usually ends up with hood under the bus and the buses bumper at the windshield. the main question is “how do you not see a big yellow Twinkie ?”  I can understand the smaller special needs bus getting rear ended when she stopped at a cross walk to let the pedestrian cross. Where not the car behind her but the car behind that one didn’t stop and pushed the first car right into the bus going 30 mph. Then you have the early morning driver who is late for work, not quite awake yet and sipping on their first cup of coffee when they run the red light and crash into the bus that is now in the intersection. How about the deer that commits suicide by jumping into the lane that the bus is traveling. Better yet, the idiot that make a turn into the parking lot hits a parked bus and drives away.....hello can you say, “hit and run” ?  These are just a few of the accidents that we have had in the last month. They all get reported and a committee then goes over them to see if they were “preventable” or not. What do you think? 

I personally had my first “road rage” experience. I had just pulled into my last school of the day, got off my bus to read the hub miles. While I was writing it down a heavy set woman wearing what looked like an Olive Garden server attire came around and asked me if I was the bus driver. I smiled and said yes, why? OMG....She went on this rant about how I ran and red light, cut her off, was speeding and a few other things. I of course stayed calm and started questioning her right back. Like which light did I run? How fast did she think I was going, etc. Then I explained to her that I when I got back to transportation I would have my boss check and confirm her accusations on the computer. She looked at me shocked and said, “What does that mean?”  This is when I smiled and told her “ we have Zonar / GPS on my bus and it will tell them IF I was speeding, stopped and what time” her jaw dropped!  She then asked me my name and typed away on her phone, I am assuming I just made her Facebook status :) ! I did call base and let them know what had happened and to expect a call. She never called, go figure! 

So in one of  my last blog I talked about a little boy having an accident on my bus and how I have a kindergarden route in the middle of the day. Well this kindergarden route is at a different school than my normal route, so I drive out of 4 different schools in a day. this one day the office told me that I had a new kindergardener to take home. So I go to the school I start loading my students and the new little boy looks up at me and says, “ I know you! You were my bus driver from my other school.”  He took his seat and as I was driving away from the school he goes on to tell the other 2 students that he remembers the rules of the bus. He starts saying, “ Don't talk loud, sit down in your seat, don’t pee on the bus floor....” I just bust out laughing!  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Changes...Changes...Everywhere there are changes!

Since this year there has been so many changes to our routes I now do three runs per route. Which means that I drive for 3 different schools morning and afternoon. I actually drive high school and then 2 different elementary now. So in the last week each run has produced something blog worthy. On my high school route in the afternoon I had about seven high school boys in the back of the bus, they range in age from 15 -17 years old. As a am driving down the road I see all of them just up standing on their seats  squealing like an old lady that just say a mouse run across the floor. I pull over and ask them what is going on, one of the boys replies, “ There is a wasp!” my response was , “ are you kidding me? You are acting like a bunch of sissy girls! Someone take off your shoe and kill the thing!” So the bravest one of the bunch did just that...with a good hard whack we were on our way back down the road. I did a tell them that that was totally going into my next blog and they ask me to put their names in, of course I can’t but they know who they are :)

Now just yesterday I pulled up to a first graders stop, there is usually a family member waiting for him, but not today. He sits up as I come to a stop and yells , “ THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE! I GET TO GO HOME BY MYSELF!” as he gets off and crosses in front of the school bus he keeps repeating this with his hands up like Rocky Balboa! I 
spoke to Dad this morning and told him about it. He said that hey heard about it all night. How cute!

On my last run of the day I have another group of elementary kids that only takes me five minutes from the school to the first stop and seven minutes for the second stop. As I get  within sight of the first stop one of my kindergartens states, “ I have to go to the bathroom!” I tell him we are so close to his stop to please hold it. As I round the corner not a minute later, “ I had an accident!”. Next thing I know there are students all telling me about “ the pee”! It is on the floor, it is on the seat, it is running down the aisle....etc! So I get to the last second and final stop, open the door and ask, “ Are you mom? well he has an accident.” the mom’s reply, “ I am so sorry, I quess you won’t forget his name.” this is so true since this is the first “Pee” accident I have every had in the 11 years that I have been driving school bus. 

Now I mentioned change in the title and that is because this year there has been so many changes in our transportation department. We have the new bell times which give us all new routes. These routes seem to keep changing. They office will add or take off stops, change stop times and drivers changing routes. We even changed bus loading zones at one school. Oh yes the loading zone I almost forgot to talk about that. So at the high school that I drive for was remodeled years ago before I came along, and when it was they forgot to put in a bus loading zone. So they had to create a loading lane in the upper lot where there was just enough room along a “J” shape sidewalk. They then made a curb on the other side to keep regular cars out. So the system over the years has been 6 buses at a time to go in there, which means we have 3 waves that go thru and pick up students. So the second week of school the fourth bus in line died, in other words it would not start. I was the fifth bus and we park really close to the bus in front of us. So here we all are stuck in this loading lane with buses on the road waiting to get in. Parents fighting to pick up their kids next to us. So I had the driver behind me back up, then I backed up and pulled into the parent pickup lane and got the out of dodge. One of my high school students said after I did this, “ I have never been more proud that you are my bus driver than I am right now”. Not sure why, it was just another day in the life as a school bus driver!  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Emotional Cluster!

At the end of the last school year in June, our mangers informed us that the district had decided to reformat the transportation routes and go with staggered bell time through out the district. With doing this they would be reorganizing the routes to accommodate this new change and cut out many as much as ten or more full time routes. The process would then be to rebid all of the routes. Starting from the top to the bottom on the seniority list. With this news followed many emotions from the drivers in my district. We felt loss, anger, confusion, and betrayal. Our emotions were very real and we felt that they were disregard due to the districts needs to cut cost. Not realizing how it was going to effect all of us and how was management was going to handle it. They didn’t prepare us or our  the management team for the up coming year as far as what to expect emotionally. For me, this was a summer of a long emotional depression and sadness. I had driven many of these students for 10 years plus on my route. I knew their parents, sibling and even grandparents. I took this every hard. I didn’t realize how hard until I was garage sale hunting in that area one day this summer break and I broke into tears as I drove down the same street I had for 10 years in my bus. This was a forced change on me that I have not taken well. 

 So two weeks before school started we were given 15 mins to pick a route. We got to come in on our own time and look at all the route changes. Then we could decide on what we were going to bid on in our 15 mins. I did get a route that still had my high school students and 2 other parts from old routes I had driven in the past. 

As for the first day of school , OH LORD WHAT A CLUSTER!!! Since many people had to change routes and didn’t know the new areas plus the route sheets that were given to them didn’t have the correct information. To say the least the radio was not stop talking plus many were late to the schools. Even now a week later there are many routes that are still not right. Many of the drivers are stressed out by not getting to school on time, missing students, making wrong turns, etc! So much makes perfect sense to the “ educated big wigs downtown” on paper as far as the numbers goes but when it comes down to you implementing it....Oh please give me a break! We are the ones on the road dealing with parents, students, teacher & principles plus all of the other people on the road! Whose wonderful idea was this? 

The positive side to all this is that I make more money since I am on the road 7.5 hours instead of 4.5 hours. My students that I used to have appreciate me more now that they have someone else driving them. Yes, I still drive out of the same school so I see my elementary students everyday still :) and today I found a whole roll of Oreo Cookies on my bus. I would like to think of it as a sign / treat for all the emotional distress that I have gone through with all of the restructuring the district has done here at transportation.

I wish all of my fellow drivers patience and safe driving... this to shall pass! 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

These Crazy Kids!

Now, in this day and age of social networking We have been told to not have any of our students on our Facebook. Of course I am a bit of a push the envelope kind of girl so I have a few of my high school students and their parents on my Facebook page. Yet again I have had this same route and have known these kids and parents for years. With that said I was on Facebook the other night and I saw one of my high school boys status post and it was about 5 of the boys on my bus. It said, " We just shoved a piece of bread in our butts, and ran 30 yards. The loser had to eat the bread.haahhahaaa". TMI GROSS!!!  I had to ask my own son what Blue Mountain State show was and he informed me that is a show that people do funny stuff like they boys on my bus did. So the next morning I stopped at the store before my route and picked them up a fresh loaf of bread. When I got to their stop I handed it to one them and said “ for the next time you get hungry for bread” they all laughed and told me I was awesome!  I thanked them for the great new material for my new blog!

 The other day one of my grade school girls got on the bus and asked me “ why do you have your pretty face on today?”  yes I was wearing a little makeup that day but I was unaware that I had my not so pretty face on most of the time. 
There are only 24 more days left of school so this is what we call our busy season. It is where we have our regular routes, sport teams that we have to transport plus teachers are all trying to get all of there field trips in before school ends. So there is a lot of shuffling going on with what buses and routes people are driving. in fact we have everyone driving that has a CDL in our district right now.  therefore on the road you don’t know who you will run into or who will be driving your route when you are gone. for example this week I was going because my husband had to have surgery on his shoulder. A co-worker of mine drove my route and he just so happened to turn on the radio so the kids could listen to music. Now I know this because I had a bunch of students tell me when I got back,  “ the other driver played music, I thought you said the radio was broken?”. Yep I was busted!  A few years ago I used to have the radio on all the time. Then the requests started for me keep changing it to other stations and turn the volume up or down. Plus the students would try to talk over the music so it would then get really loud. So I started just telling them that the radio was broken... problem solved. Well now I am thanking my co-worker for throwing me under the bus!  Just FYI.. That radio will be  broken again on Monday :) 

Monday, April 23, 2012

My Quarter Mile

I realized the other day that I hadn’t blogged in a while. I tried to think if there was anything that had happened recently blog worthy. Nothing came to mind, until the next day. Now I have mentioned how short me route is. In fact, some of the sub’s call my route “stupid easy” since there are only a hand full of stops in a 1/4 mile. So on the next day I came to the first stop and one of my “big family” ( multiple kids) students got on and stated very matter of fact to me “my sister was up all night throwing up!” then continued her seat, as I sit there thinking to myself “ you were exposed to some sort of flu and now you just exposed me...GREAT!”.  I closed the doors and went to stop number two. As I got to this stop I could see one of my 3rd graders running for the bus, so I waited. When she walked up the stairs she says to me, “ I really should start drinking coffee so I won’t be late anymore” reminder she is a 3rd grader and about 8 yrs old! I just started laughing and closed the door. Now this next stop was something I have NEVER seen I approached the stop I see this father in his car rushing to the stop with his child in the back seat. He jumps out opens the back door, let’s his daughter out and gives her a little push to hurry so she doesn’t miss the bus. He then turns around without looking and gets back into the car. He then shuts the car door and realizes he is in the back seat!  He then gets out of the back seat, looks around to see if anyone saw what he did then says something to his daughter like nothing happened. He gets back into the car and drives away. I could not stop laughing until I got to the next stop until I saw the “bus stop fashion mom’s”. You see on my route there is what I call “suburbia morning bus stop fashion”, and at the last stop this one particular morning I got just that!  What it is, are Mom’s standing there with Rubber or UGG boots, pajama pants, long coats to cover the backside, hair in pony tails and no makeup or makeup left on from the night before, with coffee cups in hand trying to wave or kiss their child while getting on the bus. Then there is the child trying to act like they don’t know who that women is! ( you know the look) 
Since that was my last stop of the morning I could not believe that all of those things just happened in less than 15 minutes in one day!  But they did and now I am sharing them with you...hope you got a chuckle out of this one :)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Snow & Smells

As I look back on January, I remember it being right after Martin Luther King weekend. I am sitting in my bed with my PJ’s on and it is 4: 30am in the morning. I have the TV on, Facebook up on my computer and my cell phone in my hand. I am like that  person waiting for the winning lottery or Keno number to come up on one of my screens. The anticipation is killing me. “ come on show me the closer!” I say to the screens. Then at precisely at 4:41 am, one of my co-works posted on Facebook what I had been waiting for.... “ School Closed, just got my call”.  YAHOOOOO! I know, I am worse than one of the kids :) So now, it is time to decide what to do for the whole “snow day”.  This is another one of those reasons I love driving a school bus, because we get all the holidays and snow days that the kids do. Yes, let me tell you I am seriously like one of the kids on a snow day. I am out in the snow as much as possible!  It just so happens that this was our first of many snow days here in Washington. The first day the roads were just barely covered and I was surprised that they called the whole day and not just a 2 hrs late start, but who am I to complain? So I ended up going to the mall with my daughter and getting supplies for the house because they were calling for more snow. The rest of the week we got over a foot of snow and then the freezing rain. So with the holiday weekend and all the snow days, I was off of work and at home for over a week. I couldn’t wait to get back to driving and a normal schedule. The following Monday, the snow had melted mostly but the temperatures were still low. Our first day back ending up being a 2 hour late start. I am not so sure that was enough time because the snow had melted plus the rain then overnight temperatures dropped below 30. Which is a recipe for some really icy roads in the mornings. Which they were, I say this because while I was walking out to my car at home I almost fell on my biscuits. Then driving into the bus barn I watched people slide all over the roads.  What really made me think that we shouldn’t have been at work, was when I stood right outside  the door of base / transportations lounge. What I saw was like an episode of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” I waited for the sound effects to be going off because I stood there watching my co-workers walk super carefully across the sheet of ice that covered our bus parking lot. Then I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or help when I saw two of my co-workers do that “banana peel slip” move and fall right on their biscuits.  I am seriously kicking myself for not video taping this. It was quite comical to watch. Yet, you have to wonder what the bosses were thinking in a situation like this. What if someone seriously had gotten hurt? I say this because the rest of the morning all we heard over the radio was about kids falling and buses sliding. Oh well we got through it and to say the least it was an interesting first day back after a great snow storm! 
Now, I have written in my past blogs about how little air flow there is in my bus and how the windows get all steamed up on rainy days. Well, there is another down fall of this very poor air circulation.....SMELLS!  In fact, one of the things that I really stress when going over the rules of the bus at the beginning of every year is to not wear or apply any perfumes or lotions while on the bus.One of the reasons for that is because if a person does apply, the whole bus will smell it. yet if a student has asthma, if could possibly trigger a breathing attack. This is my way of communicating to the students I can smell everything on the bus! I have smelled nail polish, hand sanitizer, matches and many other things. Over the years, I have taking many sports trips. I realized very quick which ones I no longer wanted to and soccer. These two sports always play no matter what. Say it is raining, they are out in the grass, mud and rain, running up and down the field sweating their teenage hormonal bodies off for the win. Well, you have heard the saying “it smells like a locker room in here”. Oh you have not smelled anything until you cram 50 wet, muddy, sweaty athletic bodies plus all their gear into a 40 foot bus! This is were you go YUCK!! How about the walking teenage whoopee cushion? Oh yes, stink bombs, farting or whatever you what to call it....are the worse! I know that you can’t aways control your bodily functions timing and need to release the gas unexpectedly but OMG, on the bus? With all the windows up it smells like an outhouse!  So is a little tip for new drivers...close your driver window ASAP!!! If you don’t... that smell has no where to go but towards you right past your nose and out the window! So close your window and have the kids in the back ( preferably  the trouble makers) to put down their windows for a few minutes. This should clear out the smell in no time. Plus, you get to smile knowing that they just had to inhale that wonderful smell! :) 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Gotta Love Dogs!

As I finish my first week back taking mid-days, AKA kindergarden/preschool routes, for the first time in almost 5 years.  I was reminded that kids come with all types of chaperones. Sometimes it is mom or dad, other times it could be an older sibling or Grandparent, it can even be a daycare provider or friend. The one chaperone that is always cute and unpredictable is one in the form of a K9. I came across this type of chaperone this week on one of the mid-days I was driving. I was driving the route and I was about 5 minutes early so I pulled over in front of the students house and I put on my hazards and honked my horn to let the parent know that I was there.With this being a preschool route I am required to get out of my seat and help the student get all buckled in. So I unbuckle and wait sitting sideways in my seat until the student comes out.  The parent communicated back by opening the door and keeping it open while she got the student ready for preschool. I know this because she made me wait the five minutes that I was early while she brushed the young girls hair, washed her face, put on her jacket and shoes then look for the backpack that was so desperately needed. By this time the student was out on the porch looking back at her mother like “hurry up, I want to go”! Waiting with the student was a black lab mix dog that was about 6 months old. The dog kept looking into the house at mom and back at the student wondering which way it should go. Once the mother handed the little girl her backpack, she walked down the sidewalk toward the bus. She then stopped at the door of the bus turned around waved at mom and told the black lab “Midnight” to go! The little girl preceded to get on the bus. I stand up to help her and then I watch Midnight outside of the bus as he watched the girl go onto the bus and down the aisle. Midnight then looked at mom on the porch and turned back to the bus and continued to get on! I acted quickly by squatting down like a football quarterback waiting for the snap with my feet heels together blocking the aisle. While the mom runs out of the house then grabs the dogs collar which is to big and slides right off Midnights head while I am pushing Midnight off the bus. We finally got Midnight off then I realized I had caught my jeans on the bus metal bracket that holds the door release handle and put a hole in my jeans. Oh great I say as I get the little girl all buckled into her seat. This was funny and out of the ordinary situation. One of reasons I needed to act so quickly was because not knowing this dog, which seemed sweet, may have acted differently with me and the other students. In addition, what was the other students reactions going to be? Had they had bad experiences with other dogs or were they allergic? You just never know what can happen. 
I am glad that this ended up being just a cute story that I was able to share. Yet by having this happen I then think about another student on my regular everyday route. This student is a first grader and his house sits back about half a football field away from the road. His K9 chaperon is a black pit-bull mix female named “Bella” she walks or runs with him to the end of the driveway and up to the bus door. She checks that he gets on and waits for me to close the doors before returning to the house. She then will do the same in the afternoon. It just makes me smile and realize what a great loving dog she is. 
Then you have the ones that are what I call “micro dogs” the ones that people carry or the ones like jack Russell's that run circles around the students as they are trying to catch them. This type K9  happened a couple of years ago where it had  broken  out to the house like a jail prisoner. The kids starts chasing it in hopes to get it back into the house before having to get onto the bus. So here is this dog just running hula hoop circles around this kid and then the other students at the stop decide to help. So as I am pulling up to the stop I see this slew of kids running around in circles chasing this dog that is going mach speed around is a huge cat and mouse race! As I slow down to make the stop the dog runs behind my front wheels under the bus the thru to the other side. I’lI could do was stop quickly, hold my breath and wish for the best. Because the last thing I needed was to have 20 elementary kids watch a dog get squished under the bus tires at 8:30 am before school. Thank goodness I reacted in time and all was ok, the parent was able to grab the dog and we were off to school with a great story to tell.