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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Back In The Saddle

School starts here on Thursday. Two years ago I didn't think it would ever really matter to me when school started. All of our children have been homeschooled from the beginning (18 years of homeschooling now). Public school schedules have never been a concern in our planning.

Things are different now. A year and half ago I started driving a school bus. A man in our church had been driving one in the evening for several years as he worked for the school district during the day. I begin to think that would be a interesting way to supplement my income and maybe depending on how profitable it was I could quit delivering pizzas.

The pizza delivery business is not near as profitable as it use to be. Our delivery area was curtailed when the franchisee opened another store in the area. So..........not as many deliveries to make. Gas at almost $3.00 a gallon cuts into the profit considerably. They have increased what they pay for mileage but it has not kept pace with the increase in fuel cost. Surprise, surprise. I'm still delivering pizzas one evening a week, hopefully that will not last much longer.

Now the really interesting thing is that I really enjoy driving a school bus. I have always liked driving, and I guess the bigger the better. School buses are pretty big. Of course, no one wants to get behind a school bus, so if they see you coming they dart out in front of you. This is a very dangerous thing to do by the way if any of you ever feel tempted to do that. It would hurt very bad to get run over by a school bus just because you did not want to follow it for a few blocks.

Another irritating thing is when people run your red lights. Don't they teach that in driver's ed any more? Stop when a school bus has its flashing red lights on. There were about eight mornings this past year at one of my stops when a lady driving an SUV would pull around me stop on my left hand side just behind the swing out stop sign and then the minute my lights went off she would speed around me. Did this lady not realize the dangerous situation she was causing just to get to the intersection about 45 seconds faster. This year if she does that I am going to take her license plate number, turn it over to the Lake Jackson Police so they can mail her an opportunity to enrich the coffers of the city of Lake Jackson. I just learned that the local police would do that at the end of the year. I will be watching for her from day one.

The most surprising thing to me was how I grew attatched to the kids. I never dreamed that would happen. I thought, "I will go drive the bus and come home." Well the kids, even the unruly ones ended up being fun most of the time. Only about five times did I have to send home a report with a child and contact their parents because of behavior problems. Oh, there were some bad days, but mostly nothing I couldn't handle between me and the student. Had a principle come out a couple of times and yell and scream at them. I have actually been quite surprised how some of the administrators and teachers talk to the kids. I thought wow, you can say that??????

I like transporting kids more than pizzas. It is more responsibility, human lives instead of pepperoni. More of a challenge. I have never had a pizza talk back to me or misbehave although I have wanted to bite more than one. I kind of enjoy the challenge of dealing with students even when they are misbehaving and being disrespectful but I've never wanted to bite one. You know every year you see the accounts where some bus driver loses it and grabs a kid and shakes them or hits them. I do understand why that happens, but it never should. That driver has not been dealing with their issues properly. I hope I am never guilty of something like that. It would be very embarrassing when your reason returned.

Of course my family loves it too. Partly because they know I love it, and partly because I have stories nearly every night. True stories. They love the stories, they know some of my bus kids by name even though they have never met them.

After a few months of seeing these kids twice a day; before and after school. The mornings are usually very quiet. The afternoons that is a different story.......... But seeing them every day, twice a day you begin to get an idea of where these kids are in their lives. To be honest most of it is pretty sad. I have been moved to compassion on occasion. Then sometimes you know that this kid comes from a family where relationships are being built. One sixth grade girl this past year. Every morning she was always waiting out side her garage and her mother was waiting with her. She would give her mom a kiss, get on the bus, the mom would wave at me, and then wave at her daughter. On occasion when I dropped her off in the afternoon and her brother who rides another bus would arrive at about the same time. This only happened a few times. But I believe every time it happened the big brother took the sisters instrument and carried it to the house for her. I thought, now that girl has a strong home life. And you know what? She was a quiet girl and well behaved, even on the rowdiest of days. There were only a few like that. Several were going to homes where there was no one to meet them.

I am going to apply for a different route tomorrow. It pays quite a bit more for just a little more time. It is in my town so I can probably park the bus at a local school and cut my drive distance to a distance that I could actually walk or ride my bike. Save gas money. If I get it I guess another whole group of kids will work their way into my heart. If I don't well, I get to keep my old kids with the exception of a few who move up and off my bus and a few who move up and onto my bus.

Whatever the case, who knows maybe I am driving a bus for just such a time as this..........Maybe I can make just a little difference in one kid's life. Now, that would be nice.

Glad to be back in the saddle! Yeeeehaaaaw!!
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