I travel a lot with both high school and college teams to their football games most of the time I am hauling the team. Naturally we are supporting whoever we are carrying and most of the time that is a good thing. We have a great time and we get looked after very well but more on that another time.

Once in a while we get the chance to take a group to a NFL game in the twin cities and this can be fun for the driver and the passengers but they also have to be careful about what they do before the game.

I had a group that wanted to go to the game last year and it was fun for all but one.

The trip started off well enough. I was to collect the group from the nearby casino several hours before the game and while everyone else was ready and waiting (i was early) there was one person that was late. There is always one. No matter what the age group or where we are going there will always be that one person that is late no matter what.

When he finally arrived he seemed to have a little difficulty getting up the steps into the bus. I though nothing of it as he was older than most of the riders that day and the steps were kinda steep anyways.

They were not a loud group so the trip to the stadium was fairly normal.  Just the normal loudness of a group of football fans gets to when they are on the way to a game.

The group had paid for the whole experience and had even arraigned priority parking for the coach, nice, this did mean that I had to clear two seperate check points to get close to the stadium. One of those had two city trucks parked in such a way that I had to zig zag a large bus through a very small hole. Not fun. I watched a city cop turn pale and move his car out of the way despite there being plenty of room for me.

Once I was parked right by the doors that the group had said I let them off and they went in for a luxury lunch before the game. I had the wonderful task of securing the coach and then finding myself something to eat. I didnt really mind that they had forgotten the driver as it gave me chance to look around in an area that I had not been in before and I went of to find some food. No less than five minutes later I got a call on my cell. It was someone at the stadium asking me to return to my coach to meet a member of my group. I had no idea what was going on and nicely asked if I could get something to eat first as it had been a long morning for me.

Once I had returned to the bus I saw a couple of security guards holding up a very intoxicated older gentleman.

“He says he came here on your bus” said one

“Yes he did I remember him” he was the one I wrote about earlier that had trouble getting up the steps

“The NFL has very tight regulations on this sort of thing. We cant even allow him in to watch the game and we have no where for him to sit it out so could he wait on your bus” said the other

“Do i have a choice?’ I asked them as they escorted him onto the bus and after a few attempts got him into a seat near the bathroom

Oh well. At least i didnt buy a ticket for the game I thought to myself as I sat down as far away from him on the bus as I could manage and put in a movie to watch. The guy was, to start with, trying to be friendly but in that half drunk way. After a very talkative 30 minutes he finally fell asleep and started to snore very loudly.

When the rest of his group arrived back at the bus after the game the first thing that the leader did was apologize for his actions and for me missing the game.

Everyone was very quiet on the way back to their hotel and kept saying sorry for the problem that they caused. They even had to carry the gentleman off the bus and back to his hotel room. It was a struggle for them because he really did not want to wake up at all and started to fight them, it was a good job that he was still half asleep and they were able to subdue him and left.

I was walking through the bus, making sure that none of the passengers had left anything important behind, when the group leader came back out to the bus and knocked on the door. Once I had opened it he started apologizing again for the trouble that his friend had caused.


The Unsung Hero

And here I am not talking about the drivers. Oh no I am talking about the riders that come with us on the special needs bus. These people are the ones that take a huge share of the responsibility from the driver. They spend a lot more time with the kids then everyone knows and develop a different sort of relationship with the children. They are one of the first people who the child will see in the morning along with the driver and can set the whole day up for them. If they are in a bad mood the child will pick up on this and the whole day could be ruined. If they pick up on a good mood then the day could be one of a better ones.

My rider today needs to get an award for something and since i know that there isn’t one for this I will simply write about it and put the event out there so that someone reads this.

It was a fairly normal day, sun was shining, birds singing etc as we head out to collect the children for the day. All was good until we got to the half way point. The poor child that was getting on had to be dragged away from a puppy that he was playing with. He was not happy about this and started screaming and yelling at everyone near him. Parents had to drag him onto the bus and I was very close to telling them that I would not let him ride with us due to his behaviour but my rider sprung into action and started talking to him but not about the puppy. All through the trip she would talk to him about anything and everything that caught his eye. It kept his mind off the puppy and managed to calm him down within a few minutes. Even when she had to get up to help other children on she would always tell the child what she was doing and keep talking to him while she was making sure everyone had their seat belts on. When we finally reached the school he was the first to be offloaded and as we handed him over to the lady that would be working with him at the school my rider explained what happened during the ride in. The school worker was very understanding and continued to talk as they walked into the school.

At the end of the day I was waiting to load my children to take the tired boys and girls home and he was one of them. As he found his seat I asked the worker how his day had gone and if there was anything that we needed to look out for on the ride home.

“No nothing. He had a really good day today”

I was amazed. He was screaming, yelling and generally not happy on the way in but yet with a little bit of attention from my rider his day had gone from the possibility of a bad day to a good day. Its amazing what that can do.

I made sure that the following morning I told my rider what had happened and that he had a good day and she was very pleased. I have a lot of respect for anyone that chooses to ride the bus and look after these children. They do a wonderful job and can save someones day and yet these riders often do not get noticed and fall through the cracks.

I have had several in my time being a school bus driver and have had riders that go from one side to the other. I get riders that do not have any interest at all in the kids and have little to no interaction with the children all the way up to the one I have now that makes the trip to school fun.

To all the riders out there that care for the kids you transport. As a driver I want to say a very big “Thank You” i truly am thankful for all the hard work you do to make my job easier.