Well it had finally arrived.
I had waited out the summer and passed the written test and the practical. Now I stood at the door to my very own School bus with my route sheets in hand ready to go out on my first ever school run. Of course I was worried. I had so much to think about. Would I forget someone? What if they were not ready for me? Would my rider not like me?
Ok so that’s a lot to take in for me on the first day but it was everything that was going through my head at that time. I had not slept very well the night before because of all this but the bottom line was that I was a bus driver again and transporting people safely was something that I knew how to do and I did it very well. All that I had to do was adapt this to my new bus driving.
The day before my wife and I had visited the depot that i would be based at and talked to my dispatcher and gotten my route sheet. Mine was a little different to the others as I would be one of the special ed buses. This means that as well as running a door to door service, I pick the kids up from home and take them back home at the end of the day, I would have wheelchairs on as well. We decided that it would be a good idea to drive the route beforehand so that I at least had some idea of where I was going and where to stop. I was not allowed to let kids cross the street in front of me, they had to always be on the door side of the bus so this meant I had to think a little more about where I had to go and make sure that I always had the pickup on the left. It took a lot of teamwork but we eventually figured it out and I knew where I was going.
The night before I studied my maps and read through the route once more just be sure what I was doing and where I was going, then after a very restless nights sleep it was time to be a driver again.
I got to the depot (hereafter known as the barn) in plenty of time and found my bus. What a sight it was. All gleaming and yellow and ready to go. After a very thorough pre-trip inspection, after all it hadn’t been used all summer, I got myself comfortable in the seat and turned the key. It thundered to life with the rumble that I hadn’t even realised that I missed. With a smile and a quiet “Geronimo” I was off on my first ever American School Bus Run.
My run starts with picking up an aide from the High School in town and this was easy. She was a very nice lady and we seemed to hit it off right away. She was waiting for me and even knew my name. She had already met most of the kids from previous years riding and was very happy to have a new driver for a change. Once she was onboard we started to go and collect kids. As it was the very first day of school a lot of my younger kids were not in yet and this made life a little easier for me. I only had a couple to collect and this helped the nerves a lot.
At the end of the run I had my first ever wheelchair to load and this was the main cause of my nerves. Not only did I have to find the house I had to make sure that I had enough room for the lift to work and finally I had to strap it down. Finding the house was easy and room for the lift was not a problem. Strapping the chair down, however, was not. The tie downs did not want to work for me at all and it took a lot longer than expected to get both them and the chair secure. After a few skinned knuckles later they finally cooperated. With that we set off for the schools. I had two to drop at and it all went very smoothly and everyone arrived safely.
My aide got off and thanked me for a very nice journey and I thanked her for all her help with the kids, not that they needed anything they were so quiet, and set off back for the barn.
I had a few hours to kill before I had to do the return trip but I was so looking forward to it.
It was a little different I only had to wait at one school to collect all my students. I had more than the morning due to a little different route but it wasnt going to be a problem. I had looked around the route again and knew where I was going very well. As the kids got on I made sure to smile and say hello. A couple of them said hi back and that made me feel a little better about it. After several drops and some laughs with the kids it was all done and I had to make my way back to the barn and put my bus away.
Once back my boss took me to one side and asked how I was doing. “Loved it” was my reply. I had just had a great day at work and I was once again doing something that I loved and getting paid for it.
It had been a great day and as I was soon to learn no day was going to be the same and the one before it.