Driving School Bus

Dateline: 8 December 2014

My middle son, Robert, the one who recently got a job as a mechanic at the local school district bus garage, is now going to drive school bus. It so happens that there is a shortage of bus drivers, and the two mechanics are needed to fill in. 

The ironic thing about my son driving a government school bus is that he never went a single day to government school in his life. He was home schooled.

The reason there is a shortage of bus drivers is that few people want the job. Though it pays relatively well, it’s a part time job (to start). And then there is the matter of the kids.

Driving a government-school bus can be stressful because kids these days are so incredibly disrespectful. Most every school bus driver can tell you some amazing stories of just how bad kids are on their school bus.

Part of the problem is that bus drivers these days have virtually no recourse in dealing with problem kids. It isn’t like when Mr. Gray drove the school bus when I was a kid.

I’ll never forget the day  (it was probably 1975) when Mr. Gray pulled the school bus over on a country road, shut the motor off, walked back to a high school kid who was being a problem, told him to stand up, and then gave him a good (loud) slap in the face, and a stern talking to. 

The bus was real quiet after that. The problem kid was never a problem again. And neither was anyone else, when Mr. Gray was driving the bus.

One of the busses in our school district transports kids to a Christian school in a nearby city. This particular bus driving job is known as the “gravy run,” meaning it’s easy and enjoyable because the kids are never disrespectful, loud, or out of control. 

And then there is the Amish bus run. The school bus transports local Amish children to the local Amish school. As you can imagine,  those kids are well behaved too.

I’m wondering..... Do you have any interesting personal stories about riding on the school bus?


Matt B said...

Uhg... the school bus. I hated riding the school bus as a kid. Though really, the only horror story I have is something stupid I did, however the retaliatory action taken against me was much worse. I was sitting with my cousin who was also my neighbor, we were probably 7 and 10, he being the older cousin. We were goofing around and for some reason I felt something in my mouth other than my tongue or teeth and like any country boy that means "spit". This was near summer so all of the windows were down on the bus. So I turned, spat out the window and went on like nothing significant had happened. Then, out of now where a high school girl that was known to be kind of rough yells "WHO JUST SPIT OUT THE WINDOW!!". I actually had done it so subconsciously that I replied "Uh, I think I did". She was sitting in the seat directly behind us so she leans up towards me and spits right in my face. Apparently when I spit out the window some came back in her window and got on her. Even now thinking about it it is hard not to gag.

From that point on I made a point not to sit near her, or spit out the window.

Anonymous said...

I rode the bus for an hour to and from school. Our driver's kid rode the bus,also. one day he pulled the bus over and went to the back of the bus and took his son off and gave him a good spanking. The driver had no trouble after this, until!!!!!
several years later one of the kids told him that one of the girls had a gun in her purse. This was in 1968, at her stop he ask if she had a gun and could he see it, which she showed him. After all kid were safe at home he made the proper calls and so had most of the parents. She was allowed to return to school but could not carry a purse, lunch bag
and had to sit behind the driver, until she graduated.

Vicki said...

Dad drove a school bus in the late 1930's. Two of his passengers, both boys in their early teens, liked to pick on one another. Dad got tired of it and one afternoon stopped the bus on the shoulder of the road, hauled both boys out to the ditch alongside the road and told them if they were going to fight, they could do it right there. The boys felt so foolish with the rest of the kids laughing at them that it stopped the fighting from that day forward.

There were two brothers, aged about 10 and 12 years old, who were constantly involved in mischief. Some of it was harmless, but some of it wasn't. When Dad had enough of their shenanigans, he put them off the bus about a half mile from their home. Their father first saw the school bus drive by without stopping. A little while later he saw his sons trudging up the driveway. No explanation was necessary. The father knew my Dad and knew that he wouldn't put his sons off the bus without good reason. A trip to the woodshed followed. After that the boys were careful not to get themselves thrown off the bus again.

That was a time when kids had boundaries and a time when actions had consequences. Those things seem to be lacking in some circles today.

Anonymous said...

My dad was not only a school bus driver, but also the bus barn superintendent in the 60's and 70's. He made up fun little quizzes for the kids on Friday mornings, and he handed out prizes for the highest scores (lots of winners). They all knew he cared about them, and he never had any problems, They loved him till the day he died.

Tanya Murray said...

Great stories everyone, thanks for sharing them. I went to a Catholic school so our rides were pretty tame but I'll never forget when Tic-Tacs first came out. We had very strict rules about eating in public in our school uniform (actually just eating in public anyway) and one of the girls down the back was passing out Tic-Tacs very surreptitiously. One of the nuns spotted her and stormed down the back and actually thought the girl was handing out drugs!!! Poor sister. I don't know about nowadays but there were no drug dangers in school back then but congratulations to them for trying to be up with the times

Tom said...

No bus story (I never rode one), but the school bus image reminds me of a recent documentary on government schooling called "Indoctrination." Two disturbing trends come out: that government schools are decidedly rooted in a socialist-materialist worldview and proceed deliberately upon those assumptions in opposition to any other principle (including Christianity), and that some 90% of Christian families send their children to these schools to spend the lion's share of their upbringing there. Goodness sakes!

-the food fanatic said...

There are two bus drivers I clearly remember. The first was for half day kindergarten. His name was Mr. Willy, and we thought he was ancient. If the boys were bad, he would pull the bus over and give the insigator and anyone else involved a good spanking.

The second was a middle-aged woman who also sold avon. She was nice but stern to those who needed scolding. If you deserved a spanking, it might have been worse, because she would wait until you for to school and the vice principle would give you the spanking, in front of the whole class.

Anonymous said...

My edicashin was state funted and my ƨkool bus driver's name was Rhonda and often times we all would sing, "Help me, Rhonda" by the Beach Boys. She (most) always had a smile on her face, driving to skool!


Granny Good Food said...

I loved riding the bus in high school. There was a tall, lanky, brown-haired boy who sat just right so that his eyes that were as clear and blue as a tropical beach could meet mine. He began to get off a few blocks early so he could carry my books home. That was 1971. This past August it was 40 years since he took the full-time, permanent position of Book Toter, carrying hundreds of books from California to Texas and then all over the state for my health lectures. His hair is silver now, but those blue eyes still keep my attention.

Anonymous said...

I rode the bus to school from K-12th grade, and my story is about when I didn't take the bus home. I went to Catholic school in Washington DC, and at that time, we had moved, and home was many, many miles away in Maryland.
One day, for no reason, one of the nuns kept me after class, and me, being very young, and never one to question a nun, stayed in the class and missed the bus. Well there was only one thing to do. I had to walk home. I was only about 8-9 yrs. old at the time. I remembered the bus route and started walking. It took me hours and hours to get home, and it was very dark outside. When I came in the house my mother and father were so upset, that to this day, I have never seen them like they were that evening. My father, the most patient, kind, reserve man I have ever known, was so upset that he put me in the car right away, and drove me back to the Convent (nuns home) and went in to let them know just what he thought of them, and what that nun had really done. I had walked miles and miles home alone and over bridges and in one very bad area of town. Needless to say, when the nun realized how far I had walked she almost fainted. I NEVER heard my father raise his voice in my life until that day, and never again after that, but I can tell you, it left an impression on me like no other, and the value of a bus ride was burned into my brain from that day on too.

RonC said...

I rode the bus for an hour in the morning on the way to school so that is where I did all of my catechism memory work. The route was reversed in the afternoon so I and my sisters were some of the first ones off.

Anyhow, if you were messing around and the bus driver felt you needed supervision, you had to sit in the front row seat right behind the driver where he could glance at you in the mirror above his head from time-to-time. If you continued to mis-behave and needed still more supervision, you then had to sit on the steps where every one got on and off the bus. Didn't matter if it was the middle of winter and the steps were full of slush. Only happened to one kid in all my years in school, and never on the bus route I was on, but word got around!

Herrick Kimball said...

Wow. What great comments. I thoroughly enjoyed reading everyone's recollections here. Thank you.

Jonathan Sanders said...

I rode nearly an hour in the evening on the rural bus route. The school bus was a significant part of my education, not a good part, but significant.

I remember Vic Harry, whose bus I rode for several years. He had a big wooden paddle in plain view, but no one saw him use it. He would wear mirrored sunglasses and drive with his head slightly tipped back so you could never tell when he was watching in the big mirror. He showed no reaction in his face, but on the few occasions when he had had enough, he simply stopped the bus and dealt quickly and plainly with the matter. Even the bad boys feared him a little. I remember one time when he put a troublemaker HS boy off the bus at least a half-mile before his home. Yet each year at Christmas he gave us each a jumbo Hershey bar.

Back then, the driver owned the bus, and operated as an independent contractor. Everybody knew that you had better not damage Vic's bus.

One other old-guy rant: I often get to wait behind a bus stopped and waiting for the riders to come out of the house and walk to the road. If we were not standing at the edge of the road when Vic came by, he did not even stop. He was on time, and by golly you better be also.

Mel said...

Ah, the school bus. The first of many reasons we decided to homeschool our children.
DH had his nose broken and chunks of hair pulled out of his head on the school bus, both incidents before he reached the third grade. My younger brother was picked on mercilessly by a boy 8 years his senior until it finally got bad enough the older boy got kicked off the bus. I only suffered verbal abuse, but it was bad enough that I eagerly awaited the day I was old enough to drive myself to school. All this in 3 different school districts and 2 different states.

Kyle Sonnier said...

We lived out in the country and we rode the school bus for a long ride into town. Our school bus driver was Mrs. Audrey. She was a character! The school buses didn't have air conditioners and it gets hot in South Louisiana. We'd put the windows down and if Mrs. Audrey got the Blue Bird school bus really going, the wind would whip through the bus and keep us cool.

Mrs. Audrey was a big fan of Merle Haggard and Ronnie Milsap and we memorized every word to every song on those 8 track tapes. After being dropped off at home, I could hear ol Merle singing "If we Make it through December" for a long ways down the road!

Brings back memories. One time, my brother and I stayed home from school. When we saw the bus coming (carrying my sister), we climbed up on the roof of our house. When she passed directly under us, we spit on her. Of course, she went inside and told Mom. "Since we liked to spit so much" as mom said, our punishment was to stand in the bathroom and spit and spit and spit and spit into the commode. After what seemed like 30 minutes spitting, I think I was dehydrated! We should have stayed on the ground when we saw the school bus coming. Thanks for bringing up some good memories, Mr. Kimball.

Anonymous said...

What Tom above said!

And, having two otherwise Christian friends who drove buses, it occurred to me this was equivalent to delivering children to Molech.

Oh, i despised riding the bus as well.


Anonymous said...

My mother drove the school bus to a christian school in the early 70's that prohibited women from wearing pants. She fashioned a floor length skirt that she wore over her slacks and would hike up once she pulled out of the school driveway. Later on , she drove the bus I rode to high school. I got the job of starting the bus early in the morning to warmup and then would be first on for the drive school. I would go back to sleep for the hour long ride to school. When it came time to get my drivers license , my mother was worried I would fall asleep behind the wheel and delayed me for several weeks before I could convince her otherwise. BTW My mother and or father had driven several of my teachers to school in their day.