Lessons From A School Bus Driver

More fun from Tracy Farr…..

Learning your lessons the bus driver way

It takes a special kind of person to drive a school bus. Not just any Joe or Jane can do it, and most of us wouldn’t even try.

But those who feel the calling – those who dare to get behind the big wheel and travel the back roads with a busload of young people who believe a school bus is just recess on wheels – well, those people end up learning a lot of life lessons, and are reminded of them each and every day.

1. The first thing a school bus driver learns is that to be early is to be on time, and to be on time is to be late – but that only applies for cranking up the school bus. On the route, everything changes: to be early is to be yelled at because the kids aren’t ready, and to be late is okay, but not too late, because then the riders start to freak out and wonder if they’ve missed the bus.

Time is both a friend and an enemy. You can’t get more, but you’ll never have less than what’s given to you. It’s best to use it wisely.

2. The next thing a school bus driver learns is not to judge a person by the house they come out of. Some kids live in big houses with landscaped yards and nicely-trimmed hedges. Some kids live in small houses with yards that haven’t been mowed in months, with washing machines and toilets peeking out from behind the weeds.

Nice “things” don’t guarantee nice people. Sometimes the most polite and helpful riders come from the “wrong side of the tracks.”

3. A school bus driver learns that sometimes passing the buck is not an option. Yes, a driver’s job includes keeping an eye on the road, insuring the riders get to where they’re going safely. But it is also the driver’s job to keep an eye on Little Johnny who looks like he wants to take out his Elmer’s Glue and squeeze a glob of it into Little Susie’s hair before he gets home.

“It’s not my job” is a phrase spoken by people who don’t care. “Sit down, turn around, and put that stuff back in your backpack before I turn this bus around and take you back to your momma” is a phrase that has “love” glued all over it.

4. A school bus driver can learn a lot from squirrels. Most squirrels have one goal – to dart across the road in front of a school bus without getting flattened like a pancake. But some of those little buggers stop in the middle of the road and get all wishy-washy about which way to run. It’s funny to watch from the driver’s seat, but I’m sure those little squirrels are scared out of their ever-loving minds.

Having a goal, or direction, is the key to success. Being all “willy-nilly” is the surest way of getting squashed.

5. A school bus driver learns that it’s best not to drink a lot of coffee before heading off on a route. Some of those roads are long and bumpy, and when the bladder calls, it does not want to be denied. But a driver can’t just stop the bus and “take care of business” with kids on board, and not very many families will open up their homes to let a crazy bus driver use “the facilities.”

It’s best to “take care of business” before the business takes care of you.

6. And finally, one of the most important things a bus driver learns is patience. Patience for kids who remember they left their backpack in the house and they’ll “be right back.” Patience for getting behind a tractor that can only go 10 mph. Patience for kids who fall asleep and miss their stop. Patience for Little Emily who is singing “Jingle Bells” over and over again, and she only knows the first verse.

If you search for the word “patience” in the dictionary, it will refer you to “school bus driver.”

I’ve been driving a school bus for almost 20 years. Some days are good; some days not so much. But every day is a learning experience. As a matter of fact, just the other day I learned that a cow can be vengeful, sarcastic and down-right rude when it has to get up from its dry, comfortable resting place on the road, just because a school bus comes along.

But that’s another story.


Tracy Farr is a teacher living in East Texas and drives a school bus for the fun of it. In his spare time he plays the banjo, but never on Thursdays. You can read more of his stories at www.stinkycreektexas.com.

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