Driving Again

This summer has been great. Since I stopped driving a school bus for the summer in late June, I’ve devoted more time to reading, working at the church more, and wedding planning. School started again last Wednesday, and despite the fact that I won’t have time to do those other things as much, it is good to get back to work.

One major change from last spring is that I am now working much more than I did at the end of the school year last year. When I was hired on as a bus driver in April, I got the route that nobody else wanted: a 4.25-hour route where I was only driving elementary school kids to school. Most other routes have a high school/middle school route in addition to elementary, which kicks them up quite a bit in hours.

There was some shuffling that went on this summer, though. Because of budget cuts, three routes were eliminated. This would have put me and the others at the bottom of the food chain in jeopardy, except for the fact that four drivers left, three of them through retirement. The day before school started, all the bus drivers got together in a room, and when the “bidding” process was over, someone had taken my 4.25-hour route (which had jumped up to 5 hours over the summer because it was combined with another route). That was the bad news. But the good news is that instead I took a 6.25-hour route. And not only that, but it is the same route that I drove for five months last school year as a substitute – so I know most of the kids already. Despite the fact that it is a longer route than my former route, nobody wanted it because it mostly picks up kids from the “projects” (subsidized housing) on a nearby Indian reservation. Because of that, it has a bad reputation with the other bus drivers. And honestly, the elementary kids on the route can be a little wild – mostly, I think, because some of them don’t have a lot of structure and parental supervision. But the middle school and high school kids are no worse, behavior-wise, than any other route. So, despite the fact that I have to get up at 5:30 in the morning, I’m satisfied with where things sit. With a wedding coming up, I can use all the extra cash I can get.