The Luckiest Kid On The Planet

 

 

“Mrs Mileti, guess who the luckiest boy on the planet is.” Asked Calvin as we neared his stop.

” I have no idea, Calvin. Why don’t you tell me who the luckiest boy on the planet is.” I responded.

“This boy, that’s who.” Stated Calvin, indicating himself, with his thumbs aimed toward himself, and a wide toothy grin adorning his face.

“And what is it that makes you the luckiest boy on the planet, Calvin? I asked.

“I don’t have any homework this weekend” Replied Calvin, enthusiastically.

There were three additional students on board, when Calvin made his jubilant proclamation, after which, each child in succession, claimed they also had no homework.

I inwardly cringed as each child touted the same claim, but was relieved when this did not alter Calvin’s disposition or excitement.

Sometimes it’s the little things in life, that mean so much!

I hope you had a, no homework, kind of weekend too. 🙂

Advertisements

Hot Wheels

It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure.  At one time, that was a slogan for the US Navy.  Well, since they are no longer using that slogan, I would like to adopt the slogan and apply it to school bus driving.  It most certainly is an adventure.  I can always count on the children to provide me with a daily dose of adventures.  Sometimes, however, the adventures stem from unexpected sources and make that days adventure even more memorable.  Yesterday, was one of those days.

I received my very first ,brand new school bus, in the beginning of this 2017-2018 school year.  Oh, that new bus smell, it’s like new car smell…only bigger! Ooh, what a thrill! I took no time in making my 40 foot long traveling office mine! Up went the magnetic personal photos, dry erase magnetic name plates for the kids, my very own magnetic name plate, oh you name it, I added it.  Pimp My Ride’s, got nothing, on my school bus. There she was, all bright, and shiny, and new, and all mine…and then…a light, an unexpected, unwanted engine warning light went off, or rather,turned on.

The engine light on my bus had been  intermittently  flashing on the dashboard for a couple of days.  It came on first thing in the morning, then would go out shortly after and  repeated that sequence periodically throughout the entire day.  Yesterday, however, the light came on shortly after I left the bus lot, and remained on for the duration of my morning route, with the temperature registering  consistently at  around 220.    The normal range for most busses, will rest at around 190.  If the bus engine temp reaches 230, a warning light and buzzer will typically come on.

I wrote the problem up and turned it into the garage, after which, I left and went about my merry way.  As I was enjoying my lunch, I noticed that I had a voicemail from work.  The message I received, was  from my boss.  I looked at the written message, a transcript, and was unable to decipher what I was reading.  All these technological advances meant to enhance and simplify our lives.  Simplify and enhance, hmm…not today.  I don’t know about you, but auto correct, voice dictation, and Siri, are not my friends!  Siri does not understand me, and I’m pretty sure, auto correct and voice dictation, have a personal vendetta against me…Anyway, I finished my lunch and decided to head into work a little early so I could find out what was going on.

I walked into my bosses office and George informed me that my, brand new bus, had been sent to West Chester….GASP!  That’s like being told that your bus just entered a black hole.  A great big giant abyss with no way of telling when, or if, it will ever return.  Ok, so maybe I’m exaggerating, just a tad.  I only know that in the past, when other new busses have gone in for warranty work or problematic issues that cannot be handled at our local garage, they disappear…and are never heard from again…ok, ok…they’re gone, for long periods of time.  It just feels like an eternity.  I could feel a temper tantrum  about to burst forth, without warning…There is no crying in school bus driving…Pushing that urge aside, I plunged forward with what I hoped was a calm, unfazed,  professional response, asking  which bus would be my replacement bus.

“You’ll be on bus 94.  Now, 94 isn’t exactly the, star bus, in this fleet.  I might be able to get you bus 19 tomorrow, but as of now, 94 is the only option.”   Said George, while struggling to find the right words for how to describe bus 94.

“Well,(gulp)that’s ok, George.  I’ve been on 19, and I can’t move the seat up far enough to reach properly, so 94 it is.”  I replied, now wondering just how bad 94 could be.  There it was again…That damn temper tantrum was itching to work its way out.  I battled through that urge and went to see my new, old set of wheels.

As I approached bus 94 it was obvious that bus 94, was most definitely, one of the oldest busses on the lot.  Shoot, even someone with failing eyesight  could  easily see that it was one of the oldest busses on the lot.  I’m not sure if it was the faded paint job or the cracked and peeling numbers on the side.  Perhaps, it was the scratches, dings and dents, those remnants of battle scars acquired over the years and the many miles of road traveled that made its age so obvious.  Though, even if I had missed all of the outside clues as to the type of a gem I was about to venture out on, all doubt was removed when I stepped foot on the bus.

The first and most noticeable change was the smell.  Gone was that, crisp new bus smell I loved so much and was replaced  with dirty, musty, heated cracked vinyl with a hint of dirty gym socks, and a dash of sweaty kid…there is no crying in school bus driving…there is NO CRYING in school bus driving…

I turned the key dangling from the ignition, only partially hoping that the darn thing would not start, or better yet, that I would wake up from the daymare I seemed to be trapped in.  I stepped off the bus to do a general check of the outside of the bus before leaving the lot, only to realize a moment too late ,that the air valve release on the bus had not been engaged.  Meaning, that as soon as the air pressure had built to a certain level, the doors of the bus closed, tight,  with me on the outside, looking in.  Now I was forced to go to the rear of the bus and enter through the emergency exit. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, it has likely been a very long time, if ever, that any of you have hoisted yourself into the back of a school bus.  Well, lemme tell ya, it’s not a pretty sight…at least, not for this girl anyway.

The vision playing through, in my mind, was that of a youthful olympic swimmer  launching themselves out of the pool onto a pool deck with strength, grace, and ease.  The reality, however, was anything but.  What took place instead was something that resembled more of  squatty old circus clown, clamoring their way up an elevated platform with all the grace of a bull in a  china shop, the strength of a new born fawn, and the ease of seal on land…there is no crying in school bus driving.  But…I made it!  It may not have been pretty, but this old girl still managed to pull herself up, dusted herself off, and got that beast of a bus moving…if you could call it that.

Aside from the smell, there were some other noticeable differences.  Hmm…where do I begin…My digital displays were replaced with analog displays.  I didn’t know that the numbers on an odometer reading could go that high.  I think the bus went from 0 to 25 in about 25 seconds.  Though, that would be difficult to determine, since the speedometer would often get stuck on 25m.p.h. That is, until you  purposely hit a manhole cover or pot hole, hoping to unstick the gauge, only to find out that you were speeding…well, kind of.  When I was able to really open her up and let her fly, we managed to make it all the way up to our top cruising speed of 45 m.p.h. Of course, that also meant that once I approached that ultimate cruising speed, I also got the  steering wheel shimmy.  But wait, there’s more.  Every time I made a left hand turn, the steering wheel would audibly groan, like turning an old rusty valve that hadn’t been moved in ages.

My elementary students were the first group of students to file onto bus 94.  I was greeted to a host of questions and comments from the children. There are always a myriad of comments coming from my younger students.  They are never shy on sharing their thoughts…This bus smells.  This bus is old.  The seats are squishy.  I must be getting tall, I can touch the ceiling.  Is there a radio?  On and on it went.  I remember one year, a few years back, when I was driving a spare bus, I received similar comments but after the comments were stated, a conclusion was made by one of my second grade boys, that based on his observations of the bus being old, and the seats being a different color, and the smell being…smelly, he decided that it must be because, that bus, was a high school bus. That still makes me smile.  No such deduction was made this time around.

My high school kids, in typical high school fashion, hardly noticed that there was a change.  High school students have one interest when it comes to riding a school bus…  How to get out of riding the school bus in the first place. The change that had taken place had not phased them in the least.  There were no comments, nor, were there any complaints.

Alas, it was time to pick up my middle school students.  Not only did they noticed the dinosaur I was driving, they also had plenty to say.  Their comments about the bus change left no guess work as how they felt about the bus change.  I received many of the same comments the elementary school students shared, but one comment, or rather question, stood out above all others that were aired that day.   Hank, one of my eighth grade boys, asked this question.

“Is this the prison bus?”

Just one day later, and now, I have my whole middle school group referring to bus 94 as, the prison bus.

As for me, I wonder if my new bus is in early menopause, with its hot flashes and all… I know its driver certainly can relate.

 

Oh…and there’s still, no crying in school bus driving 😉

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll Trade Ya

Trading cards, of some variety, come in and out of vogue as the years come and go.  This years hot cards are of the, Pokemon variety.  They have been fairly popular for a few years now, but seem to be all the rage.  Or, perhaps, it is just wildly popular with the elementary boys I transport.  When my son was  a similar age,  the favorite trading card of the day, was Yu-gi-oh.  Let’s just say, if they were of the, Pokemon, variety, I would have the, holy grail, of collections! Albums, and jam packed boxes of, Yu-gi-oh trading cards,  sitting in the basement, collecting dust.  Can any of you relate?  Anyway…

Two of the boys who ride my bus in the morning, are brothers.  Ivan, is in second grade, and Alec, is in the fourth grade.  The boys sit about four rows apart, on opposite sides of the bus.  Ivan was in the process of making a trade with his seat partner, and wanted some guidance from Alec.  Ivan got Alec’s attention, then asked him if the trade he was about to make was a good one.  Alec started to answer Ivan’s question, and was in the middle of responding, when Ivan interrupted Alec’s response, after which, Ivan repeated his original question, prompting this response from Alec…

“Listen to my words, child…Listen. To. My.  wwwoorrrdddzzz.”

Why, I do believe, Alec opened his mouth, and his parent came out.

What a great laugh to start my Friday morning!

The exchange between Ivan and Alec, reminded me of a similar exchange taking place between my son, Dominic, and myself.  The exchange took place, when Dominic was about six years old.  We were in Minneapolis to attend a wedding, and I needed to pick up a dress shirt for Dominic.  We had a limited amount of time to accomplish this goal, so before even entering the store, I spelled out our time restraint and explained that we could not get side tracked from our mission and needed to stay focused on our goal.  Specifically, it meant…no toy shopping…no toy looking…no gadgets…etc…etc…etc…

We entered the store, just a mom and her boy, focused on their mission.  We started walking back toward the children’s section.  As we were making our way back, we just so happened to meander a little too close to the women’s shoe department, which just happened to call out to me. One does not ignore the enticing solicitations, emanating from the women’s shoe department.  They lured me in, like a sailor to Sirens. Ok, Ok, Ok, so I’m a shoe junkie…there…I said it.

I picked up a delightful pair of black leather sling-backs, on sale, I might add.  I kicked off the shoe I was wearing and started to try the shoes on, when Dominic took his two hands, placing one hand on each of my cheeks, in a cradling fashion,  squishing my cheeks as he did, and said, “Focus, Mom! Focus!”

I am focused, I thought…focused on trying these shoes on!

Can you say…BUSTED!  Whoa! Talk about a role reversal! The spell was broken,  I was dragged unwillingly, back to reality, back to our original mission.

They watch, they listen, they learn, and they repeat.  And sometimes, when they open their mouths, their parent comes out.

 

Have A Heart

 

Each year, as the daylight hours get shorter and our mornings get darker, I am reminded of an incident that occurred about six years.  It is a memory that makes my heart race each time I recount the events of that morning and one that will remain with me for a lifetime.

It was a cold, dark, rainy morning in early October, and  I was in the middle of picking up my High school students.  I  just left a neighborhood plat as I turned left from Spring Valley, onto Yankee Street, traveling northbound.  I had a stop, two houses in from the corner of, Spring Valley and Yankee St.  I stopped at the location listed on the route sheet.  The one student that was listed on the route sheet to board the bus, was waiting at her place of safety.  She boarded the bus and sat down.  I went through my, exiting procedure, before pulling away.  I put my bus into gear, check my mirrors, and I remember thinking…I can’t see a thing!  The mirrors were rain covered and it was very dark out.  As I glanced in the mirrors, I saw beaded up water droplets, darkness,  and headlights leaving a glare on the pavement, making it even more challenging to see clearly.  I released the parking brake and checked traffic, as I prepared to pull forward to continue on.  As I started to pull away, I heard a pounding on the back panel of my bus.

My heart started pounding.  I still could not see anyone or anything.  I had no idea what was happening.  Disastrous thoughts started filling my head, when out of the darkness, one of my students, beatific faces, filled the doorway.  She bound the stairs and made her way to her seat, as if what had taken place, just a moment ago, had been a, run of the mill occurrence…nothing to see folks, move along…  I was simultaneously elated and mindblowingly angry!  It was a very good thing my heart was held in place by my ribcage.  I did not know my heart  was capable of pounding that hard or that fast.  Had it not been for my ribcage, I am convinced that my heart would have pounded out of my chest and right on down that cold, dark, rainy road, with me in hot pursuit to retrieve it.  I had never been so frightened in all my life, and it was by far the scariest moment of my driving career.  My high school students were delivered and the remainder of my routes, were completed without any additional incidents…whew!

When I returned to the bus lot, I went in to my supervisors office and told him about the incident.  The simple act of retelling the story shot my heart rate up to, escape mode, once again.  I recanted the entire event and told him that her parent needed to be contacted, to eliminate the possibility of that scenario playing out in the future.  Quite frankly, I’m not certain my heart could take another encounter like the one I experienced earlier that day.

My students’ parent was called later that morning and was informed of what had taken place. To my utter astonishment, the parent was aware of the incident that had taken place and informed my supervisor that her daughter told her to let her out at the corner so she could catch the bus there.  What part of, that plan, didn’t shout…bad idea…really bad idea, as well as a host of other thoughts that raced through my mind.  The gravity of the situation was expressed to the parent, and an alternate plan was set in place, if the child were ever to miss the bus in the future.

This incident continues to serve as a sharp reminder to me, that when it comes to kids, expect the unexpected.  The unpredictable behavior of our children can manifest itself  at any time and at any place, and will generally take place without notice or warning.  Even when we are doing all of the right things, at the right time, we cannot determine when a child might act in a capricious manner.

The alternate outcomes that could have taken place that morning, is almost too devastating to contemplate. I shudder to think what may have happened had my student slipped on the side of the road while chasing down my bus as I was pulling away.  I am eternally grateful that my nerves were the only thing that got trampled that day.

I share this story with each new driver I train, with the hope that it may serve as a reminder for them to remain vigilant in their efforts to keep our kids safe.  I am sharing this story with you, in an effort to alert you to the potential danger that exists.  If your child misses their school bus, please inform them to NEVER run after the bus. Your child has an assigned bus stop, and time, for a reason. Our route sheet tells us how many students we can expect to see at any given stop.  If your child misses the bus, please call your schools transportation department.  Alternate arrangements can be made.  Your driver will be informed of the alternate accommodation.  This will generate a  much safer outcome for you, your child, and your child’s school bus driver.  Oh, and our hearts will thank you too!  🙂

It’s About Time

Each year, I transport approximately 125 kids to and from school every day.  Our school year started August 16, or, just a little over one week.  It just so happens, that this year I began a new route, this also means, new students and new schools.  All this newness was topped off with a brand new bus…Ooh…sparkly!  That is a whole lot of, new, at one time, for sure! It generally takes me three days to learn my new route, without using the route sheet,  and a couple of weeks to learn all…yes, I said all, 125 students names.

For the first week of school, I ask each of my students, as they board the bus, to tell me their names repeating the process as they exit the bus to go to school.  I repeat the same process in the afternoon as they board the bus from school and again as they exit the bus to go home.  After the first three days, I attempt to remember each child’s name as they board the bus in the morning.  If I cannot, Identify them properly, I ask them to remind me of what their name is.  Today, I arrived at the fourth stop on my elementary run, where I pick up four boys.

As I greeted Isaiah, by name, without asking him, he looked at me and replied…

“It’s about time you got my name right.”

I am going to take down my name plate this afternoon and see if, Isaiah, knows my name.  😉

 

 

 

I’m Back!

Bus 120’s maiden voyage began today at 6:15…Oh the adventures we are sure to have~
Two of the students I had when they were in elementary school, I have again in High school. What a joy it was to see them again…all grown up!

Hard to believe this is my 17, first day of school…and still lovin it!

I have to admit…that 4:30 wake up call, was brutal this morning!

The morning route went quite well…no stowaways and no leftovers! Here’s hoping the afternoon goes just as smoothly.

 

images-3.jpeg

Unknown-3.jpegUnknown-2.jpegf215da6e93e1fc65a76021b290b42597.jpg

*School is in session…watch your speed in school zones, and know when you need to  stop for flashing red lights.

Parallel Perfection

Today, I was training my new trainee maneuverability.  In particular, we were learning  Straight line backing, off set parking, and the dreaded…parallel parking, both blind side parallel parking and drivers side parallel parking.  When I told her what we were going to be learning, her reply was an audible sigh. Then again, it may have been her eye roll that I heard.  I’d be surprised if she didn’t see her brain with that impressive eye roll!  Anyway, I knew instantly that I had a doubting Thomas on board and she quickly confirmed my theory when she told me that after she received her drivers license, she never attempted to parallel park again and she had been dreading the possibility of having to do it again…this time, on a school bus, nonetheless! This was a feeling that I could easily relate to, for I too was a parallel parking avoider.  When I told her that not only would she learn how to parallel park a school bus, but also promised her it would be easier than parallel parking her car, and that she would be parallel parking like a pro before the morning was over, she was skeptical, to say the least.  You can imagine the response I received in reply…yep..another audible eye roll. Well, that, and her daughter told her that she would never be able to parallel park a school bus, because she couldn’t even parallel park her own vehicle.

I break the process down, step by step.  I begin, by showing students each individual pivot point, which mirrors to view them in and where each pivot point for that maneuver is located.  Most drivers tend to be skeptical of the forsaid formula, until they practice it without me being on the bus.  Once I teach them the “formula”  I  observe and instruct from outside.  I love, love, LOVE, to teach my students the formula…aka pivot points and then watch as they successfully parallel park a school bus…the first time!  What a thrill! I love to watch as the look of surprise is replaced by pride and joy.  When she realized that she had parallell parked a school bus, by herself, the first time,  I was rewarded with a warm hug and big high fives that were accompanied by the look of pure satisfaction and success!

My student could not wait to go home and tell her daughter that she could parallel park a school bus!

*bestjobever*