When the sun goes down and darkness presides, a bawdy band of bus bandits lurk in the shadows, waiting for their opportunity to do some bus busting.
These bandits patiently go from bus to bus checking for unlocked bus doors to bust into on their quest for buried treasure. The bandits I’m referring to, of course, are raccoons.
We as drivers have been battling these bus bandits for years, we take many precautions to thwart these pesky critters efforts. We even go so far as clamping our doors at night to keep these crafty critters from boarding our busses. That’s right, we clamp the bottom of the door, so the raccoons don’t take their little paws and open the door from the bottom to gain entry. Well, last night, I forgot to secure the bottom of the door with my clamp. I realized this when I arrived at work this morning, to find no clamp in place. It did not take long for me to realize my mistake. Instantly, my heart started to race a bit. A number of our drivers, have, in the past, forgotten to put their clamps in place, and were greeted by their uninvited guest, who just so happened to stick around to welcome them. I was not in the mood to be greeted by any furry friends. I bent down to open my bus door, and cautiously boarded the bus. I knew instantly that my bus had been visited by one or more of our bus bandits. The evidence was all over the bus. The contents of the trash can was tossed about the inside of the bus and cute little paw prints adorned my windshield. The question was, was the masked bandit or bandits still on board?
A coworkers encounter with one of these masked bandits quickly came to my mind and was the reason for my elevated heart rate. It is also one of the reasons clamps became standard issue for our busses.
Earl did his pre-trip, as usual that day, and set out to pick up his kids. He picked up his high school kids and dropped them off, after which, he picked up his elementary students and delivered them as well. Upon the completion of Earl’s high school and elementary routes, he had some time before his middle school children needed to be picked up, so Earl chose to take his layover in the Dorothy Lane parking lot, an upscale local grocery store.
It was customary at this time, for Earl to take out his newspaper and read until it was time for him to pick up his remaining students. While Earl was reading, he heard what sounded like a scratching noise near his left elbow. He pulled the paper away to investigate the noise and saw nothing, and went back to reading. Moments later, he heard the same noise and once again moved the paper and his elbow to see what was making the sound. This time when he moved his elbow away from the compartment it had been resting on, a small masked bandit poked his little head out of the compartment, effectively scaring the shit out of Earl, who, as he put it, ran screaming off the bus like a little girl. He went around to the back of the bus and grabbed the broom to assist his efforts in ridding the bus of its unwelcome guest. Cautiously, Earl made his way back to the bus door to see where the critter had gone, hoping that the commotion caused from his hasty exit, moments before, had encouraged his furry friend to exit on his own. As luck would have it, however, this was not the case. Earl, now armed with his trusty broom, came face to face with his stowaway. It was now up to Earl to rid his bus of its crafty critter. Eventually, Earl and his trusty, courageous, broom, chased the unauthorized rider down the steps, out the door, and off the bus.
This was the story that was playing through my mind as I boarded my bus. I was leery to open my side compartment, where the flashlight was stored. I was brave and pulled the flashlight from the depths of the darkness— with my bare hands. My flashlight illuminated the isle and each seat as I slowly strolled to the back of the bus. I was hoping, beyond hope that I would not be greeted by my bus bandit. It was also my hope that in my wanderings, that I would be spared from finding any delightful parting gifts the bandits have been known to leave behind. Raccoon scat, has got to be one of the worst smells I have even encountered. It’s bad enough to find it, knowing that you will be the one to clean it up, but when you discover the scat or urine unexpectedly, with your broom as you go about sweeping your bus, dragging the smelly mess toward you, well—you get the picture—it’s not pleasant! Luckily, my story has a good and clean ending with, no surprise stowaways and no nasty packages. I do no think I will be forgetting my clamp any time soon!