On the fourth day of Christmas…

In all my years of schooling back in the day, I never got to ride the school bus. For first through eighth grade, I rode my bike to St.Mel’s–which obviously didn’t have bus service.

Actually, I rode in a carpool for awhile until they figured I could ride the 2 miles on my bike. I think maybe about third grade. By seventh grade, I had a ticket. But I hadn’t ridden a school bus.

I know…why would you want to? But I did want to.

Then it was high school at Jesuit. Too far to bike. So we rode the city bus. Not quite the same, though there were so many of us going to the same place, AND doing all the requisite yelling out the windows, it might as well have been a school bus. Except you had to pay. (I know, our district charges for the bus now too.) Things got so wild sometimes, especially during afternoon boarding, that the city threatened to stop the line if we didn’t shape up. Dang those Catholic boys.

Then, during my first year here, back in ’93, I didn’t have the right rain gear dialed in for riding my bike in wet weather (like I do now), so I got permission to ride the bus if I wanted to on rainy days. They said I could ride whenever I wanted to.

See how much I hate driving.

I had ridden home once, after I got dropped off in the morning with a bunch of stuff for my classroom, and it went ok. The kids thought it was funny. I sat up front with the elementary kids. This was my first year, and I was not known around school much AT ALL, so there was no innate fear in any of them, but the bus driver seemed to have things under control.

Then I rode a second time. Things started a bit wild at the loading, and by the time the bus driver started the engine, the kids were getting out of hand. I was a rookie, and I did not want to undermine whatever authority this guy might have, and I figured this was his domain and he might resent my intrusion, so I just watched the show.

He yelled at them again, and started to pull around the bus loop to leave the lot, when somebody threw something. Don’t know what. But oh my.

The driver flips out. He starts yelling that he’s “just done with their shenanigans,” and he makes a complete circuit of the bus loop, and returns to the loading dock. He then kicks out all the junior high kids. He tells them they can’t ride home today, and makes them all leave the bus.

“Out! I’m leaving you here.”

Like Travis yelling at Eckels in “A Sound of Thunder.”

Then he drives off with me and about 5 or 6 elementary school kids.

It was great. The elementary kids thought it was greatest thing ever. The trip sure went a lot quicker with so many fewer stops.

My principal at the time later told me that I probably should have helped the guy tame the animals, and perhaps prevented the nightmare of 40 kids at once trying to use the office phone–this was way before the kids had cell phones–and dozens of angry calls and visits from parents.

I haven’t ridden on the school bus since.