My ‘sweet ride’ is a yellow school bus

Today I am in Ann Arbor Michigan, where I am going to stop by Aunt Agatha’s Mystery Bookstore. I have always wanted to visit that store but my trips to Michigan never took me close enough. My daughter has friends in Ann Arbor and asked if we could go visit them. I couldn’t say no. I didn’t find out that we would be stopping there in time to set up a signing event, but one of the owners, Jamie, was kind enough to order a few copies of OPEN SEASON for me to autograph. In author lingo that’s called a drive-by signing. Tomorrow I will be at Howard’s Bookstore in Bloomington IN from 6-9pm. If you live nearby, I hope you’ll consider stopping by. I would love to meet you. The link will take you to a map.

Here’s another column from Tracy Farr. Enjoy…

I’m proud to say that I’m a school bus driver. Not only that, but last year one of my riders gave me a certificate that says I’m the greatest bus driver in the world – which makes me an Award-Winning School Bus Driver. The certificate is hanging up in my office. Feel free to drop by and see it.

Being an Award-Winning School Bus Driver is not all glamour and paparazzi. Yes, there are perks that come with the job (I’m still searching for mine), but there’s also a certain amount of responsibility that comes with the award.

Bus drivers have to be friendly and ready to wipe up liquid motion sickness at a moment’s notice. Bus drivers have to be welcoming, but ready to give students the “evil eye” when they’re not following the rules. Bus drivers have to understand a little bit of child psychology, be able to work under pressure, and have the ability to tune out distractions while keeping their eyes and ears open for Little Johnny who loves to use his markers to color on things – especially other riders. And bus drivers have to carry an extra bottle of deodorant with them because driving a bus is a sweaty job, and stinky school bus drivers don’t get certificates.

Driving a school bus is not for everybody, and to be a school bus driver is to be practically superhuman but without the cape and spandex. That’s why I’m surprised there aren’t more movies made about them.

“In a land where time has stood still, where American values are as deep-rooted as the Rockies, there lives a man who is more than what he appears to be. His name is Bud Randle. He drives a school bus twice a day, but he’s hiding a secret that will soon amaze all his friends and neighbors. And in the end, he will save us all. Transport Pictures presents Johnny Depp in a Peter Jackson film – ‘Mr. Bus Driver: The Movie.’ Coming to a theater near you.!”

I’d gladly pay my money to see a movie like that, and I might even spring for some hot-buttered popcorn and an ice-cold soda pop. Wouldn’t you?

Driving a bus doesn’t have the greatest of reputations. The buses rarely have air conditioning, the heaters barely work in the winter, they’re slow, the engines are loud, the brakes squeal, the children sometimes get noisy and obnoxious, and dealing with a bunch of hot, sweaty kids on a hot, sweaty day is worse than having a root canal without medication. But other than that, it’s not too bad – especially if you have a Little Emily onboard.

“Mr. Bus Driver, why are you whistling? Whistling isn’t allowed on the bus,” said Little Emily.

“Who says whistling isn’t allowed on the bus?” asked Mr. Bus Driver.

“I did,” said Little Emily.

“You did? So, you mean when I’m happy, I can’t whistle?”

“Well, I guess I can make an exception. But just this once,” she said.

Little Emily has plans for her life. Maybe she’s going to be a nurse, or a lawyer, or the CEO of a global financial institution that will decide whether or not I should get the loan I need to one day take my family to Europe for the trip of a lifetime. Who knows? What matters today is that she doesn’t mind riding to school on the bus. She’s been doing it since kindergarten. It’s just a morning and afternoon ritual that will continue until she can drive herself to school. But until that time, she relies on me, the bus driver, to get her there safely so she can become the person she’s meant to be.

So like I was saying, driving a school bus is a big responsibility. Not everybody can do it, but those who can should be respected, admired, and valued as important members of our society. And the best way that you can show your appreciation for the thankless job these school bus drivers do is to remember two things:

1)    Stop when you see their red lights flashing. There’s a Little Emily on every bus, and they all want to grow up safe and sound; and

2) Bus drivers love to eat. A couple of glazed donuts or an apple fritter in a bag is sometimes better than money.

Now, if you’ll excuse me – I’ve got riders to pick up.


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.

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