There was never a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him to sleep. Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you haven't time to respond to a tug at your pants leg, your schedule is too crowded. Robert Brault

Whats driving a bus like? Seventy of your kids in the back seat going to town. Mr. Brandon

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"Research Needed"

The second grader was proudly displaying his new MP3 player.  He said, "Right now it doesn't have a lot of music on it but it does have the Bible so you can listen to it."  Knowing this young man quite well, I wanted to take this chance to emphasize something.  "You know," I started, "that's great, the Bible helps us know how to act right and do the right things."  He replied, "Yes, it talks about Abraham (and in my mind I think, that's great he knows about Abraham, father of the faithful) ..........Lincoln.  He was a good man, but I'm going to pull out the Bible Concordance just to make sure.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"Well Qualified"

Mr. Mucus boarded the bus in a happy holiday mood and started, "Mr. Brandon, you know what I'm going to be for Christmas?  I'm going to be Santa Claus."  Being such an important figure I wanted to make sure he was qualified for such an undertaking.  So, I asked if he thought he could be a good Santa.  He turned and looked at me, patted his ample belly and said, "Come on Mr. Brandon take a look at this" and he finished with a "Ho, Ho, Ho."  He proceeded to tell me he had to get to school to pitch the part of Mrs. Clause to some girls at school and see who would take it.  From the cry of "Yuck" from the two girls behind him I don't think they want to be in the running.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"All I Want For Christmas"

It's that time of year when I expect a familiar question, "Mr. Brandon, what do you want for Christmas?" I've been asked this a number of times over the years and usually have an answer that is on the ridicules side, so when the young man asked today I was going to give such an answer. Before I had a chance to respond he followed with, "No not a shotgun, no not a million dollars and no not a vacation".  My next thought was how long has this kid been riding this bus.

Monday, December 9, 2013


Without a word he put what appeared to be a lunch box on the dash in front of me. He unzipped the lunch box and inside  was a pencil box. He opened the pencil box to reveal its contents. He then pointed and gave me a verbal rundown of the items in the pencil box, "First aid kit, Kleenex, Chap Stick, Germ X and an ink pen". He calmly closed the pencil box, zipped up the lunch box turned to me and said, "If you need me you know where I am" where upon he set down. It really puts your mind at ease to know there is a first responder on board.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

"Political Arena"

Looking in the mirror I notice a second grader hold up a paper and yell to another second grader, "Hey, is this a 22 or a 62 on your paper?" Well, I ask the most obvious question, "Are you cheating on your homework?" In a response that would have made any politician proud he responded, "No, I'm just using his homework to make sure I don't make any mistakes". Then as any politician knows the next step is damage control. You convince those around you that you are doing the right thing and it's something they wouldn't understand, followed by a quote that is not exactly true to its origins. So he looked at a kindergartner and said, "You wouldn't understand, this is real work, this stuff will chew you out and chew you up". Look out Washington.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

"Kid Bell"

He held up the two cups wrapped with string with the pride of any true inventor. He told me what it was, but he really didn't have to, I know a well-crafted phone when I see one. Then he demonstrated how it worked, one rider held a cup up to my ear as the other one stood behind me and yelled into a cup, "Mr. Brandon, Mr. Brandon". The clarity was amazing it was almost like he was right behind me yelling my name. Next, they moved on to a test of long distance because I heard one say, "Ciao" and the other one said, "Sayonara". I hope they have the right plan because those international charges can be outrageous.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


The young lady had a rather distrait look on her face as she got my attention, "Mr. Brandon, that boy back there has a real Okie Pokie" then she went and set down. I wasn't sure how to react to a real Okie Pokie. I mean I understood Okie Dokie and even Hokie Pokie but what's an Okie Pokie, maybe it's a version of the dance only done in Oklahoma? Trying not to panic at the prospect of a rider with a real Okie Pokie on board, I watched where she set to see who was around her that may be the perpetrator. There he was the notorious Mr. Mucus and I knew immediately what she was talking about. When he got on the bus this morning he showed me what he had brought, it was a walkie talkie. Mystery solved, he had even been trying to talk to his friend because he was saying, "Breaker, breaker". So I asked what his friends name was and he said, "Breaker". Should have known.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


As the second grader came to the bus I could tell he was wearing something on his right hand. I knew what it looked like but there was a small part of me that was sure I was wrong. He came up the steps held up his right hand and said, "Guess what Mr. Brandon?" Sure enough, it was what I had thought, a surgical glove with the ends of the fingers cut out. He snapped the glove against his wrist and said, "Do you know what I am?" I took one look at the up held, gloved hand with the ends of the fingers missing and I wanted to say, "A really careless proctologist?" Using better judgment I said, "I don't know". "I'm a champion bowler" he said, "and have been for the past four years". As he was demonstrating his bowling form I was breathing a sigh of relief.

Friday, November 15, 2013

"Show Biz"

Mr. Brandon's Bus Goes To The Big City, chapter 5. Mr. Brandon exited the hotel and a man with a whistle, not a policeman, ask how he could help. Mr. Brandon tried to put on his best, I'm not from the backwoods of Alabama face, and said, "I need a cab my man". I think he pulled it off. The man in the cab asked, "Where would you like to go?" Not to shock the man with his celebrity he simple said in a calm voice, "NBC studios please". The man must have been a trained professional because he did not act surprised or even ask Mr. Brandon for his autograph. Upon entering the building Mr. Brandon checked in at the desk and told them he was there because he had been nominated for an award, you know the oscar of bus driving. They too did not act excited or overwhelmed by the possibility of greatness, man these people are well trained. He was told to be seated and a handler would be by shortly to take care of him. Hoping they did things different in the big city he was seated. In Alabama when someone tries to handle you they usually end up with a punch in the nose. Soon the handler arrived a quick look and Mr. Brandon knew he could take him if the need arose. Mr. Brandon was then escorted to a room called the green room. It must have been a room that they don't usually use because it wasn't green at all. In short time two other men entered the room and Mr. Brandon found out they were nominees in other categories. They were both from Massachusetts so they were not familiar with real english. Not long and a young lady came in and asked each of them to practice their acceptance speech so she could hear what it would sound like if they were to win. Next a young man came in and said he wanted to escort them to the makeup department, he looked like he was very familiar with makeup himself but apparently he was confused and in the wrong room because  there were only men in this room. He insisted, to be polite Mr. Brandon followed him to the makeup room. Well the first lady took one look at Mr. Brandon's hair and said, "We're going to see if we can do something with this" seems cow licks are not camera friendly. Then a second lady ask Mr. Brandon to be seated in a chair and started putting some kind of powder on his face, he thought it may be to help tone down his natural handsomeness so as not to out shine the other contestants. Then for the finale they even combed his mustache. After spending more time in the not green, green room Mr. Brandon was told it was time to go to the show. At this point he was told, "Mr. Brandon, if you are selected we need you to stand, act excited and move to the podium say your speech then move off with the young lady to be seated in a different part of the stage. He was escorted into the audience and there was a chair that had a sign in it that said reserved. All the other times Mr. Brandon had seen such a sign it meant, not you. This time it meant him, he was a reserved! Then a man came out and said he was there to warm up the crowd for Mr. Harvey. He had the audience to stand and clap and move in time to the music. Mr. Brandon had to apologize to the ladies on each side of him for repeatedly hitting them. There must have been an over site with the produces and they did not realize that an old white man was in the crowd. Mr. Brandon noticed the camera did not spend much time on him as he grooved to the music. The show started and Mr. Harvey ask the audience if they had a great Thanksgiving, there was not much of a reaction from the crowd, so Mr. Harvey called a time out and the cameras stopped. He then explain that the show was going to air the day after Thanksgiving and they needed to act like they had a great Thanksgiving and not look at him like "What the heck?" but you know in the big city they didn't say heck. The first segment were people who had been given questions to ask and had already had a mic on them. The first lady was standing in front of Mr. Brandon and he was tempted to put bunny ears on her. The show had anticipated such things and the audience was told if they acted up they would be ask to leave. Mr. Brandon thought about the bunny ears looked at the man who would through you out and he was a really big, black man and Mr. Brandon decided in the interest of the show not to cause problems. The second segment was about a lady who had a spending problem, she had spent the families savings and had run up twenty five thousand dollars in debut on credit cards. Mr. Brandon did not think this segment would be very long because what's to discuss in Alabama she's out, move on. Then the time came and the studio was rearrange for the awards show. Mr. Harvey came out and talked about how important these people were to their communities. There was an attractive young lady in a long slinky gown and Mr. Harvey had the envelops in hand. There was a brief introduction to each category and then those words we all know, "And the winner is". It came time for the bus driver award Mr. Brandon checked the zipper on his pants for the twenty fifth time. Not to get his hopes up he had practiced over and over, "It was a privilege just to be nominated". Mr. Harvey waxed eloquently on the importance of bus drivers, which didn't take long, and then opened the envelop, "And the winner is... Tom Brandon of Walnut Grove Elementary". Mr. Brandon did his surprised look, because he was, and started down the steps trying not to trip on National TV and made his way to the podium. He said, "Wow!" because he had been instructed to, so it would not sound rehearsed, even if  they had made him rehearse it three times in the not green, green room. He said his thanks in a hurry as instructed and followed the slinky gown girl off the stage and was seated in a chair. As most men will tell you it's difficult not to follow a slinky gown girl. That's why they use them on awards shows. Five more contestants and that was it, Mr. Harvey said thank you for a great show and that he appreciated the work they did to make their communities a better place and then he was gone. Mr. Brandon  and the others were escorted off the stage to pick up their luggage and then down stairs to an alley past the dumpsters to catch their limo to the airport. Mr. Brandon was sure this exit was to keep the paparazzi from hounding him now that he had received the oscar of the bus driving world. That's show biz.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

"Confusion and Disappointment"

Mr. Brandon's School Bus Goes To The Big City, chapter 4. Mr. Brandon was up early for what promised to be a long day. Bypassing the seven dollar bottle of water on the table he went for the free tap water. He looked at and smelled each of the cleaning products displayed on the bathroom counter, each one smelling very flowery, I mean where's the Dial. Then he pulled back the shower curtain to a shocking site. Two yes two shower heads, it seemed quit extravagant but he gave it a shot. The confusion begin, I mean where to you point them? Just as you go to wash your hair you feel the water from one shower head then you get it mixed up with the other shower head and end up bending over even more to line up with it. Mr. Brandon finally just threw caution to the wind and enjoyed both at once. Grooming completed and smelling like a rose garden the next thing on the list was breakfast. Stepping outside of his room there was food right at the elevator on his floor. Taking a quick look Mr. Brandon decided this must be snack food for those waiting on breakfast. He wondered why do they call it a continental breakfast? Lewis and Clark would never have been able to explore the continent on such meager rations. That was it, no waffle or pancake machine. Not to be out done Mr. Brandon used his tech savvy to Google, Waffle House. What!!! no Waffle House in down town Chicago and I thought I was up town. Well Mr. Brandon is headed to the studio, he hopes they the mic does not pick up stomach growling sounds. The banana may not hold him.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

"Night On The Town"

Mr. Brandon's School Bus Goes To The Big City, chapter 3. The flight went fine there was only one real concern. The fight attendent, she seemed friendly enough but Mr. Brandon was sure her hair must have been a violtion of airline code regarding safety. If he was to put away all items so they would not fly around in the event of turbulence then her hair was a danger. It was spiked and gelled in such a way if the plane had hit turbulence and she fell forward she could have easily put someones eye out or pierced a vital organ. Luckily the flight was without incident.  Mr. Brandon deplaned and did as instructed, calling the limo service. They answered promptly and asked, "Where are you Mr. Brandon?" in Chicago he replied. It seems they wanted a more defenetive answer. He informed them what gate he was standing in front of and they told him they had dispatched a car and it would be there in a few minutes. Mr. Brandon stood outside in the fifty below howling wind and eagerly awaited his car. After the third call it arrived. The driver did not seem as excited to see Mr. Brandon as Mr. Brandon was to see him. Much to Mr. Brandon's disappointment it was not a stretch limo but a Lincoln Town Car regular size. As Mr. Brandon was thinking the last time he rode in such a car was at a funeral the car, driver and passenger slipped onto the highway where the first thing Mr. Brandon saw was a sign that said, "Deaths this year 865" he felt at ease. Mr. Brandon tried to in-gauge the driver in conversation but he did not seem to talkative. Mr. Brandon tried to explain how both of them were really in the same line of business only Mr. Brandon's limo was big and yellow and the only tips you recieved were flowers, rocks and coloring sheets. He was not responsive to that either. Soon they arrived at the hotel where there were hot cookies waiting at reception. They gave Mr. Brandon his room key and ticket for two free drinks at the managers reception. Mrs. Brandon had already informed Mr. Brandon that his two drinks could be Sprit and Dr. Pepper. Mr. Brandon dropped off his luggage went out to see the town. For some reason the people looked strange at Mr. Brandon when he great each with a, "How you'll doing" maybe it was just the cold. After walking for sometime he decided to get something to eat he decided to splurge and have a big city steak. He found out big city steaks though they cost more do not come with french fries and the high prices were because of the extra labor they had to employ to wash all that extra silverware they put on the table. Just to be polite and make the dish washer feel needed he only used one of the forks but licked them both. As the waiter came by to show his approval of such a delicious steak Mr. Brandon ran his finger around in some of the grease and licked it off his finger. Then the waiter tried to pull a big city trick on Mr. Brandon by bringing back his change all in big bills. He did not know that Mr. Brandon always keeps a few ones for just an occasion. Then Mr. Brandon settled down to a night of big city tv wondering "Do they get the Andy Griffith Show up here?" 

"Things To Remember"

Mr. Brandon's School Bus Goes To The Big City, chapter 2. Mr. Brandon sets prepared in the hustle and bustle of the Huntsville International Airport, yes the hub to the world. How can this trip be more exciting then a lady in front of you with a small dog going through screening. The dog having less trouble with security. Mr. Brandon moving through security with only one hand, the other hanging on to his now belt less paints, hoping not to moon the TSA agent who has already given him a some what strange smile. He now goes over a list of advice that his thoughtful students have provided him: Do not set next to big sleepy people they will lay on you and slobber. Set by the window so you can look out and see how things are going down below. Stay away from big crowds. Don't get sick if you do make sure you have a puke sack. Try not to use the bathroom on the plane so go before you get on. Have a chain on your wallet. Bring a game board so you will something to do. If the plane has nachos get extra. Take lots of pictures. Be courteous, find the pool at the hotel, don't talk to strangers. Most of all do not embarrass us. The embarrass issue seemed to come up with a number of people especially family.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

"Mr. Brandon's School Bus Goes To The Big City"

Chapter 1 "Check List" 

Once upon a time in the backwoods and cotton fields of Alabama Mr. Brandon was trying to prepare for a trip to the big city of Chicago. He had been put in this position by an over energetic group of individuals because of the misguided effort of his wife, who was really just trying to get him out of town. He has been asked a number of questions leading up to the trip. Natalie called and asked about visible tattoos and body piercings, key word visible. Also in his favor he has all his limbs, fingers and teeth. Nancy called and asked what he might say if he were to win. Mr. Brandon waxed eloquently knowing that Nancy on the other end of the phone was moved by the sincerity and the true emotion that was being expressed in a way she had never heard before. Mr. Brandon stopped when he knew he had moved even the angels to tears. There was a moment of silence Nancy cleared her choked up throat and said, "Well, we need to keep it to just three or four sentences". "What I think you were trying to say was (pause) well I tell you what how about I just write it for you and send it for your approval?" Caesar called asking to have a full length photo of what Mr. Brandon would be wearing. Caesar said, "It should be fancy". I don't think Mr. Brandon owns anything "fancy". His wife is packing his clothes and has told him he must change underwear everyday because he is going to the big city where they live wild like that. Tomorrow will be a exciting day.

Monday, November 11, 2013

"Please Let It Be A Weapon"

Often families use words differently at home than how they are defined in the dictionary. Received a shocked look from a young man once, when I called him a little goober, peanut in meaning, then mom informed me how they use the word goober at home, sorry. So, when a young man boarded the bus, reached for his sweat paints and said, "Let me show you my nunchaks" it was the only time I have ever thought, "Please, let him be reaching for a martial arts weapon". He pulled out a set of nunchaks, ok one problem avoided. Next, why was an energized second grader bringing nunchaks to school? Seems he had done well on his progress report and Dad had bought him a gift. Good move Dad! I'm not a prophet but I asked to keep up with them for him to avoid the, "Mr. Brandon, he just hit me" that I knew was coming. Let's all hope he doesn't make straight A's on his report card.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

"Full Schedule"

He hopped on the bus with gusto, threw open his jacket to reveal his new collegiate tee shirt and hollered, "Roll Tide". Then he took a deep breath and started, "Mr. Brandon, I'm ready to get to school, eat breakfast, go to class, work my butt off, go back home, get on that homework, jump on the trampoline, play a little football, eat supper and go to bed". I got tired just listening to the run down. I was looking for a place to hook a set of jumper cables on him to get me going for the day. After I picked up the last student on the route he asked if that was all and I told him, yes. He responded with, "Then let's get to school and work our butts off". The ladies in the cafeteria said he ordered an upside down original for breakfast. He told them that meant they needed to turn his biscuit upside down before they put gravy on it. I think he could get an energy drink endorsment.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

"Yellow Bus Productions"

Apparently a hunting video was being filmed on the bus. This was brought to my attention when a student got up in the seat on all fours. I turned to tell him to get out of the seat when I heard the explanation for the behavior. He was talking to the student across from him, "If you want a clean kill on the deer you want to shoot about here". He then pointed to just behind the front shoulder. Next a string was pulled out of a book bag and I was informed they were building a bear trap. I inquired about how often they had seen a bear on the bus but that did not seem to be relevant to what they were doing. Next, I heard a series of squeaking noises coming from behind me and was told they were practicing their squirrel calls, that being said they moved on to their duck calls. I'm not sure about the reading and writing skills but the next report card will have A"s in wilderness survival skills. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

"The Hardened Criminal"

You have asked the fourth grader six times to be seated. He has pestered his little brother till he's crying. He has gone through the next nine weeks allotment of notebook paper making paper airplanes and throwing paper wads. He has broken pencils and discarded them in the floor. Now you look in the mirror and he is up again and coming up the aisle toward you. You ask what he needs. "Mr. Brandon" he starts, "that little kindergartner across from me just put a piece of candy in his mouth and dropped the wrapper in the floor. Well that does it, I'm going to see if we can get that candy wrapper dropping, freckled faced, little five year old demon put off the bus. I mean sometimes you got to put your foot down.

Friday, November 1, 2013

"It's In The Smile"

The difference between a poorly behaved rider on the bus and a well behaved rider; a poorly behaved rider gives you the evil eye and grumbles under their breath each of the twelve times you have to tell them to set down during a ten minute period. A well behaved rider smiles a sweet smile and says, "Yes sir" each of the twelve times you tell them to set down.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"Don't Forget To Twirl"

As we near the end of the workday or school day, we think of the things that we're going to do when we get home. Sometimes, much to our dismay, things happen to deter our plans. On one particular afternoon, on the way home, there was a choir of moans coming from the riders for it had started to rain. Afternoon plans were a bust and the dreariness set in. I pulled up to the next drive ready to open the door to a gray afternoon for another child. The kindergarten girl looked at me and said with a smile, "I love the rain". She hopped off the bus took a few steps and then twirled herself around a couple of times, then hurried on her way. It made my day so much better; I smile every time I think about it. Suggestion, give yourself a twirl today, even if you have to wait till no one is looking. Personally I think if you twirl while their looking, it will give you and them something to smile about.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"Mathematical Word Problem"

Bus driver "B" drives a standard school bus rated at seventy two passengers with twenty four seats. Keep in mind the seats were designed for occupancy of three elves not the average Oreo eating, chocolate cake loving, normal kid. Driver "B" transports sixty five students consisting of; thirteen groups of siblings that cannot set next to each other because of hitting and fussing, two groups of neighborhood children that cannot set next to each other because they can't get along in the neighborhood, one group of neighborhood children that cannot set next to each other because their parents can't get along in the neighborhood, two kindergartners that can't set by the windows because they lick the glass, twelve 4 and 5 year olds that believe the bus is a wonderland to be explore because it's the first vehicle they have ever ridden in that they are not strapped down in some way and eight mothers who all want their child to set in the front seat so you can keep an eye on them. Question: Where should each child set and more importantly how long will it be before a school holiday or a day where driver "B" can find a sub driver and take a day for mental reasons?

Monday, October 28, 2013

"Links In The Chain"

We have all had those conversations where one topic or thought lead to another and then another and before you know it you are talking about something that is far removed from where the conversation started. The conversation of the boys behind me started with, "Mr. Brandon, do you know when we get out of school for Christmas?" Before I could really give an answer the conversation continued on without me. Each sentence leading to another thought down a chain that ended with, "If you play Sweet Home Alabama too loud it will vibrate you off of the elephant". Somewhere in the middle of this chain was a link about a cheetah in a suitcase.

Friday, October 25, 2013

"Not Just The Punkins"

For those who need to be reminded because you've got those nice fabric seats and some of you even have heated seats in your car, there is nothing colder on a frosty morn then sliding across a vinyl seat to take your breath away. Most every student slides across with an OHHH..... then informs me that they think their hinny is frozen. The Twins who are not twins, suggested a remedy to this situation, "Mr. Brandon, why don't you tell Mrs. Brandon to get up put on her house coat go out and get the bus warm in the morning while you're getting ready for school?"I've never been accused of being an intellectual giant but I see problems with this on many levels.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Most schools usually have a week during the year that they celebrate an event by letting the students do something each day that they would not normally do. The students all wear their favorite hat one day. The students wear camouflage one day, which in a small rural farming and hunting community means, everyday attire or what your parents were wearing on their first date. On this particular day students were informed to wear tie dye clothing. The second grader hopped up the steps of the bus smiling from ear to ear, paused and showed me what he was wearing, one of his father's ties was tied around his neck. "Mr. Brandon," he said,"its tie dye day" and he held out the tie for my examination. Not to rain on his parade I told him it looked great and he went on his way happy as could be. A much wiser fourth grader looked at me and said, "But its tie dye day, but its tie DYE day". I looked at him and slowly shook my head no and was able to mentally communicate with him. He looked at the second grader who was now proudly showing the tie to others students. "Just leave it alone?" he said. I replied with an affirmative nod.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"Herculean Task"

The kindergartners struggled toward the bus in a single file line bent over and staggering under a load like the children of Israel in Egypt. Their backpacks seemed to be bulging to the point of exploding. It could only mean one thing, a thud and a large orange sphere comes rolling down the aisle, confirmation, the annual kindergarten trip to the pumpkin patch. Each backpack now contains a pumpkin that could easily out do the owner in size and weight. There have been studies on how much weight an insect can carry compared to body size. I believe an ant cannot compete with the field trip adrenaline rush of an excited five year old when he is selecting a pumpkin to carry home.

Friday, October 18, 2013

"Pendulum Swing"

With all the crazy conversations that go on, it is very refreshing to have a true scientific conversation with a student. A fourth grader was in the mood to talk and wanted to discuss space. We talked of stars, planets, galaxies, the speed of light and the possibility of space exploration and colonization. We talked of the unfathomable wonders of the universe. Also mentioned was since the morning was so foggy it reminded him of the zombie apocalypse and he needed to practice patting his head and rubbing his belly. Apparently this will protect you from a zombie attack, just one of the interesting facts of the universe.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


During the winter months, the sun has a difficult time slipping up over the horizon so those first few pick-ups are often quite dark. Yet, who would come to our rescue, that ever faithful, always vigilant Mr. Mucus. As he boarded the bus he announced to everyone, "Don't worry I'm a scout, I'm always prepared" whereupon he started digging in his book bag. "Look what I've got Mr. Brandon", he said. I looked at the same time as he clicked on a flash light who's original packaging must have said, "Own a piece of the sun". As the flash burns to my retinas were healing, he pointed out the great help he could be, "I can help you see the road" as he pointed it out the front window. "I can look for lost things under the seats" and all I could see was his bottom sticking up in the air as he took a dive. "And" he continued, "we can keep an eye on them" as he pointed the light at two little girls who have been known to be up to no good. Like most bright ideas, it's time came and went so quickly. Within a few minutes, the sun had eased up over the hills making all things clear and, except for those few students who are now recovering from a bout of temporary blindness, it wasn't that bad of an idea.

Friday, October 11, 2013

"Harmony with Nature"

As the sun was coming up over the hills, I made a comment to Mr. Mucus about what a beautiful sunrise that God had given us but his mind seemed elsewhere. Then he announced loudly, "The squirrels are bothering my nuts". Well this drew a snicker from the older crowd and thank goodness they and I kept our first thoughts to ourselves. He continued, "The squirrels keep taking the walnuts from my tree and I want them to stop". "Well" I said, " do you eat the walnuts?" "No," he replied, "but I would like to try some". Trying the logical and less violent approach, because the older kids had now chimed in with how to trap or shoot them, I said, "Well, God made the squirrels and God made the walnut trees so they could have something to eat". "I know" he said, "but they always take the big nuts and leave the little nuts behind". "Ok," I continued, "put a sign in the tree that says, only take the little nuts and leave the big nuts alone." He seemed quite happy with this solution but it was negated by an older student who informed him that squirrels can't read. Before we could discuss how to deal with illiterate squirrels the conversation was interrupted by on of the Three Stooges who yelled out that his brother was pointing his booty towards him and he was afraid it would go off. I believe the nuts are safe from the squirrels, because most of them are on the bus.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


By going through the remnants of past civilizations acheologist are able to piece together the stories of those who once occupied the area. As I do the archeology walk to see what's left behind from those who have now departed I contemplate the items. Let's see assorted pens, pencils, markers, crayons, a collection of papers with low scores that someone was hoping would never see the light of day, candy wrappers, cookie crumbs, a Bass Pro Shop hat, a jacket, battery powered hamster and a set of handcuffs. Yes, I know what you're thinking who in their right mind would leave behind a Bass Pro Shop hat? Oh, well typical day.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

"Sure ???"

Question of the day, "Mr. Brandon, do you think I'm cute enough to be a hamster?" "Sure", I said without hesitation. Always sound firm in your answers, it makes it sound like you know what's going on, even if you don't.

"Reading The Signs"

I believe if most successful bus drivers were to trace their ancestry, they would find they are descendants of trackers. You know the ones you see in the old westerns that look at the ground and can tell how many horses came this way and one was carrying a one legged man with a patch over his left eye or put their hand in the coals of an old campfire tell you how long they've been gone and what they ate for supper. These are a few of the signs and their meaning on the old bus trail.

  • Student pauses looks at you with extra-large smile: You are to notice missing teeth.
  • Little girl swishes hair crossing the road: You are to comment on new haircut.
  • Student pauses and looks down at feet: Compliment new shoes.
  • Student looks at you with eyes wider than normal: New glasses.
  • Student looks down at feet one foot forward: Needs help tying shoe.
  • Boy that usually runs to the bus walks extremely slow to bus: Sister not ready Mom has told him to stall for time.
  • Young student is always the last one off the bus at school each morning and always stops, looks  at you and grins: They need a hug before they go to class and they didn't want anyone else to know. Little boys often need for you to also pretend to punch them in the stomach or act like you're putting knots on their head.

Monday, September 23, 2013

"Conversion Chart"

Ok, being a math teacher there are some units that I'm aware of, such as 1760yds. to a mile or 5280ft. You can change Miles to Kilometers by multiplying Miles times 1.609 and change Fahrenheit to Celsius by subtracting 32 and then dividing by 1.8. Yet I was at a loss when I heard this from a second grader, "Do you know how many miles I live from the school?" "Eight minutes." This conversion I may have to Google.

Friday, September 20, 2013

"Let It Grow"

Two of the Three Stooges ran to the bus and hustled up the stairs all out of breath. Jumping around like two crazed rabbits and talking a hundred miles per hour they explained all the excitment. They had planted, not buried, planted some money in the back yard and were waiting for it to grow into a tree. Not sure who is praying harder for this to work them or me.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


The young lady got on the bus carrying a shoe box. I said, "Good morning, you got a suprise for us in that box?" She smiled and replied, "No, it's for a project that we have to do in class". She then poceeded to go sit down. As she went down the aisle a second grader that had been listening to the conversation said, "Mr. Brandon, is it true that in the third grade that you get to do projects?" I replied in the affirmative and he said, "Wow, that will be fun I can't wait". Then there was a rather long pause followed by, "Now what is a project?" He didn't sound quite as excited after I explained that a project required work. The word work often takes the shine off the apple.

"Where Does It Rank?"

As I approached the stop I could see there was a new mother and child waiting. She explained that she was having car trouble and that her son had not ridden the bus before but would it be ok for him to ride today. He climbed on board and with kindergartners climbing on board is the proper term that first step is a climb. He sits down in the first seat and begins to look all around taking in all the sights and sounds of this new experience. Sometimes newbies need a little reassurance so I started talking to him, "What do you think?" "How do you like it?" Finally in my last effort to set his mind at ease I said, "The bus is a fun way to get to school". If there was any doubt left in his mind I'm sure it was resolved when I received help from Mr. Mucus who hollered out, "It's like paradise". I guess that sums it up.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


I'm often called upon to help with the more difficult tasks that students face. One such task is to help with the spelling of words that may be difficult depending on the grade level. For those that know me just the thought of me helping with spelling is a difficult concept. The spell check on my computer often replies with a "Have no idea what you're trying to spell". There was a little more pressure with this because it was for an award presentation. First I was asked to spell his teacher's name and then how to spell teacher. The student meticulously wrote each word (chicken scratch with a pencil) upon the fine parchment (page out of a coloring book) embossed with delicate art work (a teenage mutant ninja turtle) and carefully rolled it up and placed it in a suitable container for safe keeping (folded it up and crammed it in his book bag). So if you meet Mrs. Boles congratulate her for she is "The World's Best Teacher". I didn't even know there was a competition going on or that it was international.

Monday, September 9, 2013


When you're young there is oh so much time to plan for the future, you know retirement, will I have enough to get by, what will I do? Then the years go past and you are coming closer and closer to what was an age away. It can cause some distress and worry. Today my mind is at ease no worry, no sleepless nights, the future is bright, yes bright all thanks to that trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent Boy Scout Mr. Mucus. He informed me that he was selling popcorn for the Boy Scouts and that he was going to make 356 million dollars and when he did, he was going to let me drive him around in his limousine. Wait the perks do not stop there, I get to be a part of Den 223, though I was told I would have to buy a Boy Scout shirt from the Boy Scout Store. Oh, he has more than lived up to the Boy Scout slogan, "Do a good turn daily!" he has given hope to a weary soul. Do not envy me that was not my intent for one day I may give you  a ride in the limo.

Friday, September 6, 2013

"On The Move"

"Mr. Brandon, do you know what that is down from my house?" said the second grader. She continued, "Well, it's one of those mobile home houses". "That kind where you have to put all the glass stuff and dishes away when it's moving or they will break". "My Nana and Papa live there, I think they should move". "I mean if you never go anywhere what's the use of living in a mobile home  house". She may have a point.

Friday, August 30, 2013

"If The Sock Fits....."

Mr. Mucus stuck his leg far enough out that I knew I was supposed to notice something. He said, "My dad gave me old, fat man, knee socks to wear today". My planned witty reply of their appropriateness was interrupted by the realization that I was wearing the same old, fat man, knee socks.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

"Child, Child"

Seeming to come in on the middle of a conversation the first grader said, "Well, she was trying to put their hair in a Mohawk and their little drawers were sagging so I told them to pull their pants up and turn that hat around right, child what do you think you're doing?" So I was nosey and asked, "Who are you talking about?" She replied, "I'm talking about Chief, Logan, Juicy and Big Juicy, I don't know what they were thinking". No that's not the nick names of brothers or cousins, it's her puppies.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


All excited about the homework that he had finished the second grader was showing off his "All About Me" poster to the other kids. He was pointing out the pictures and talking about how hard he had worked on it, when a fourth grader pointed out a problem. The fourth grader said, "I think you used the wrong letter on that word, it should have been a B and not a D". Well the argument went back and forth for a while and the fourth grader had reason on his side when he said, "I'm pretty sure you did not mean to say that you are in the Doy Scouts". The second grader was understandably upset he said if he got a low grade then his Dad might not take him on vacation to Hoowhyyee. Between Doy Scouts and the great state of Hoowhyyee I think you know I won't drop off anyone today at the Academy for Advanced Placement.

Friday, August 23, 2013

"Tis The Season"

I know we're in the heat of August and that is why as I'm taking home the last student, on a rather long route, I hear her humming and singing Christmas songs. I said, "Wow, are you trying to get Christmas to hurry up and get here?" "No, Mr. Brandon" she said, "it's just I've got to go to the bathroom real bad and I've got to do something to take my mind off it". Well, I tried to help by singing along but she didn't appreciate it when I changed the words to "Ooooooh I haaaave got to peeeeee". She made it home and was humming a tune as she jumped from the bus. I laughed about it a little as I headed back but by the time I got to school I was doing a little "Jingle Bell Rock" step myself.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

"A Rock Unmoved"

One of the attributes that seems to be missing in our ever changing society is perseverance. You know staying with it when the odds seem against you, the road is rocky and life wants to reach in and snatch away your joy. Well, Mr. Mucus boarded and said, "Mr. Brandon, look what I've got". Well, it was an old beat up camera. He explained that the neighbor had been cleaning out some junk found it and gave it to him. He asked if I had a photo battery and I told him no. Not to be deterred he begins taking pictures. As a first grade girl steps on the bus he throws up his camera and says, "Smile". She promptly stops, smiles and does that girl thing, where they throw out a hip and put a hand on it (I guess it's in their DNA because they all do it). She walks on and he comments, "She's such a great smiler". He continues to take pictures till he informs us that he has taken 193 pictures. He then stated that he was going to stop taking pictures because he didn't want the batteries to run down. Then came these words from Mr. Bubble Burster, "You don't even have any batteries in that camera". Where others may have faltered and failed Mr. Mucus stood his ground when he replied, "Yes, but I don't want the imaginary batteries to run down either". So remember stay true to what brings you joy and be great at something even if it's being a great smiler.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"Painting and Puppies"

The Twins that aren't twins set in the seat behind me and give me a rundown of things, one in each ear like little stereo buds. To help, let me signify right ear (R) left ear (L). So it started, (L) You know our mom has has been taking care of our Grandpa (R) he's dying (L) he smokes a lot (R) he's painting this picture (L) of Jesus and when he works on it (R) he passes out (L) and he won't sign his name (R) what's up with that (L) and he won't let his girlfriend have a puppy (R) I think if she ever moves out I"m going to give her all the puppies she wants (L) that's right. There are a number of follow up questions I would like to have asked but they do not breathe or pause.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"Let's Get Things Rolling"

Well, we're on the road again. The summer has slipped away, students board the bus excited about the new year. The air is filled with the chatter of voices talking about new clothes and who their new teacher will be. Mr. Mucus, knowing that I was probably nervous since it was my first day back also, reassured me that I was still his best bud. On the ride home they were even more excited, sharing the experiences of the day. Each in turn telling me fantastic things about their classes. In all the commotion a second grader leans forward and in a soft subdued voice says, "Mr. Brandon, how many more days till school is out?" He did not seem very encouraged when I replied, "179 to go". As we rumbled down the road I heard a little voice repeating 179.....179.......179. I'm sure thing will pick up tomorrow or it's going to be a long year.

Friday, May 24, 2013


Well, the Cheese Wagon, Big Yellow Banana or whatever the students call it has been swept, washed and parked for the summer. I would like to say to all my cyber riders that have shared in this year’s ups, knowing that Mr. Mucus is opening a summer club at his house where you just set around eating chips and swimming, and downs, when an SUV decided to see if a stopped school bus was something he could move, thank you. I hope in some way you have enjoyed the stories as much as I have in sharing them with you. I have had people ask me how is it you have such a well behaved bus? Let me say, I never said I have a well behaved bus, I mean it is full of kids, enough said. Not all that happens is news worthy and some would have to come with a PG-13 rating or higher. With all that being said let me leave you with this. Just like the kids on the bus we all have our ups and downs. Very few go through every day upbeat and bubbly. We are told that life is what we make of it and I believe this to be true but a little push in the happy direction is always appreciated. As I stopped and picked up two brothers that I have known since they were goofy little boys and now they are grown young men in high school close to graduation I said my usual, “Good morning boys”. They replied, “Good morning”. As they passed one of them reached over and patted me on the shoulder and that was my push in the direction of a good day. We all need it from time to time so today in word or deed give someone a push in the right direction and to all my cyber riders thanks for the pushes this year.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

“How To Pick Your Fights”

I knew the conversation behind me was getting serious between the first grader and the kindergartner, when I heard the infamies phrase, “I’m fixing to serve you a knuckle sandwich.” Then I was called in as mediator. The conversation centered on who could beat up who. The kindergartner’s argument hinged on this vital fact, “Mr. Brandon he says that he can beat me up.” “That’s just not so, I mean when he jumps on the trampoline he sets down.” Note to self, in the future only engage people who demonstrate no trampolining skills.

Friday, May 17, 2013

“Faster Than The Speed of Light”

In this day and time where things happening so fast we not only measure things in seconds but in nanoseconds. The idea of how fast does a prayer move from my lips to the Lord, recently occurred to me. I was hoping that it was instantaneous. When from behind me I heard these words from a first grader talking to his friend, “Man, what are you doing with your lizard?” The prayer that leapt from my lips, “Please let there be a toy animal involved, Amen.”

Thursday, May 16, 2013

“Goes Without Saying”

The Mona Lisa is a great work of art. The Grand Canyon is a true wonder of nature. Hot chocolate chip cookies go with cold milk. There are some things you just don’t have to say, they are self-evident. One such statement was made on the bus. As I’m trying not to breathe and in the process of opening the driver’s window a little boy leans forward, smiles and says, “Hey, Mr. Brandon I just farted.”

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

“Eye Care”

If you have not seen a comic book in a number of years they are far from the Superman and Archie of the past. The most noticeable difference is the way that they draw the female characters. Let us say Jane Russell would be envious. So I hear two first graders behind me whispering and then one of them says, “Mr. Brandon look at this”. At this point they put in front of me a comic and on the page is a very scantily clad, curvaceous young lady. “Boys, do you think you’re old enough to be looking at this?” I said. There was a disappointed head shake of no. “Boys, if you look at pictures like this it could cause you to go blind” I said using my father voice. Then one replied, “We better not look at it but let’s give it to him, pointing to the boy across the aisle, he’s in the fifth grade it’s probably ok for him to look at.”

Thursday, May 9, 2013

“It’s All The Same”

An argument broke out between the first graders. The main point of contention was the amount of time involved, in what I don’t know. It hinged on thirty weeks or three weeks. After a heated discussion, it was resolved to everyone’s satisfaction when one of them finally said, “It’s all the same if you take off the zero”. The conversation ended in agreement. Diplomacy at it’s best.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

“Uplifting Humor”

How many giggles can you get out of two kindergarten boy who have squatted down behind the seat, where they think they can’t be seen or heard? They look at each other and for a split second there is not a spoken word or even a breath taken. Then one of them blurts out the word “Bra”. The answer is forty minutes worth, well that’s all I can verify, at that point I had to let them off the bus at home.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

“Start the Day Right”

A little, round, healthy, kindergartner asked, “Mr. Brandon what’s for breakfast this morning?” “Toast and eggs” I told him. “Awesome” he sang out. He always says awesome no matter what I say is for breakfast. He continued, “Mr. Brandon you know what we should do today?” “What?” I replied. “Today we should just set back and enjoy the ride” he said. Good advice for any day. I was also invited to a muscle contest that was going to be held at his house the following day.

Monday, April 29, 2013

“Patriotism Pass It On”

Mr. Mucus stepped on the bus in all of his patriotic glory. Smiling from ear to ear he was proudly wearing a do-rag, you know the ones worn by bikers under their helmets. It was red, white, and blue with stars. Before I had an opportunity to say anything the Twins who are not twins stood, placed their hands over their hearts and started, “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”. They finished with, “Let us now have a moment of silence”. The moment of silence did not last as long as I would have liked but at this point I had to hum “God Bless America”.

Friday, April 26, 2013

“Honk Honk”

It has been pressed upon us that our children are the future. There for we have been bombarded with the idea that we must take care now so there will be sufficient resources so they may enjoy the future. Politician, television and celebrities speak of the evils of our out of control consumption. All of this has lead to the reemergence of the smaller fuel efficient car. Down with the evil luxury vehicle. We hope to have instilled in the youth of today a different vision of the future. As I rounded the corner to drop Mr. Mucus off at his house, there it was a small, million miles to the gallon hybrid. A marvel of the engineering world that would make the greenest tree hugger proud. He looked at it in all its shinning glory and said, “Hey Mr. Brandon there’s a clown car in my yard, what’s up with that?” Oh, well maybe they can brain wash the next generation.

Friday, April 19, 2013

“Heroes Among Us”

Had a rather odd feeling when Mr. Mucus informed me he was going to tell me his secret identity. I mean that is a great weight of responsibility to be let in on someone’s secret identity knowing you could be tortured by the enemy seeking information. To be taken into that circle of trust is very moving. Then the revelation, “I’m, Bridge Boy” he said. With that he extended his feet across the aisle to the next seat and said, “In an emergency I can become a bridge.” I don’t know about you but I feel safer knowing there are such heroes among us.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

“Spells Trouble”

“Mr. Brandon, do you know what my brother just said?” was the question that came from a rather excited, wide eyed, kindergarten girl. It’s always risky to ask what they said but with little ones it’s somewhat safer. Proceeding with caution I asked, “Well what did he say?” In true secret informant fashion she looked all around then leaned in and quietly started to spell the word. Everyone knows you can’t get in trouble if you spell the word. Yes and it turned out to be the biggie. I looked into the wide excited eyes and said, “Does your brother talk like that at home?” “Oh, no” she said, “mom would throw him through a wall.” “Well you need to tell your mom what he’s saying on the bus” I told her. “I can’t do that” she said. “I would get in trouble just for knowing how to spell that word.”


Listening to the Authority discuss jelly filled donuts and an eating arrangement he has with his brother, the Flea, I was reminded of Jack Sprat and his wife and how they were able to work together making sure that the platter was clean. In such tradition I bring you this verse.
The Authority liked the pastries
But he did not like the jelly
A quick extraction slurp from the Flea
And the Authority could fill his belly

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

“Spring Strut”

A beautiful morning, the bus glides smoothly down into the valley. We approach the river and off to my left I notice a flock of turkeys in a clearing. It’s spring and the Tom has his feathers all spread out strutting his stuff to impress all the hens.  We continue on and this picturesque view of nature fades from sight, I look in the mirror and there he is on my bus, a Tom, with his sleeves rolled up flexing his biceps trying to impress the hen across the aisle. The hunter instinct in me goes to work. First, distract the Tom from the hen with a call. So I call in a very worried and concerned voice, “Tom, are you alright?” Good, hearing the concern in my voice he now turns his attention to me and asks, “Why, what’s wrong?” I take careful aim and fire, “Well, I noticed a mosquito bite on your arm and I wanted to make sure you were ok.” A cackle from the hen and he went down in a cloud of smoke with an “Oh, man!” I love turkey season.

Friday, April 5, 2013

“The Great Melting Pot”

The United States has long been known for the blending of cultures. There are holidays and foods observed and eaten from all corners of the globe. This morning I listened to a true blending. The young man started, “Mr. Brandon I played a prank on my Mom last night.” His eyes were all excited and I knew what he wanted so I asked, “Well what did you do?” With a giggly little voice he replied, “I dressed up like a Mexican Ninja with a light saber and hid and jumped out and scared my Mom.” Sometimes the cultures that we blend are from a galaxy far, far away.

“Moment in History”

Mr. Mucus board with his usual excitement carrying an empty paper towel roll. After looking through it a saying” Arrrr matte” he informed me he was a pirate. Then the paper towel roll went through several other transformations and then as being transported back through time I’m with Bell and his assistant Watson as I hear, “We could use this to talk to each other.” He placed it to his mouth leaned towards his friend, I listened carefully for those first famous words, it stared low and then gained volume, “Hello……….. LOOOOOOSSER.”

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

“Work It Out”

The boys were nowhere in sight as I pulled up to the house. I stopped and was about to pull off when they came running from behind the house. “Well,” I told them, “you boys just about got left.” The youngest replied, “We were behind the house working out some issues.” The oldest added, “We were throwing bricks at each other.”

Thursday, March 21, 2013

“Check the Chart”

After being told to sit down for the eighth time the student immediately jumped back up to show me his treasure of treasures that he had purchased at the book fair, a mood ring. He started out, “Here Mr. Brandon try this on and let’s see what kind of mood you’re in”. “Well,” I replied “I’ve asked you to sit down eight times, I’ve asked him to sit down eleven times and have asked his buddy to sit down ten times, just what kind of mood do you think I’m in?” He looked at me, “Try it on and let’s see”. I swallowed, “Let me save you some trouble.” “Is there anything on that color chart that says, Wants to beat every child on the bus?” He actually looked at the chart, “No, there’s one that says, stressed how about that?” “Close enough, sit down” I replied through gritted teeth.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

“Friends to the End”

As the kindergartner stood there I asked, “Did you have a good day?” “Well, not to good we had to go to the principal’s office” she replied. “To the office?” I continued. “Well, me and my friend got in trouble in P.E. and had to go to the office”. The usual P.E. offences ran through my mind, fighting, throwing something at someone, not following direction. I mean how much trouble could two, little, sweet kindergarten girls get in? She continued on and relived my curiosity, “Well, she pulled down her pants and showed her hinny so I decided I would too”. Not exactly what I was expecting. Looking for a reply I respond, “Well you know that’s not something that good girls do and I’m sure you just did it because you thought it would be funny”. “Yes, it didn’t turn out as funny as we thought it would” she said. It’s hard to talk about correcting bad behavior when you really want to crack up laughing.

Friday, March 15, 2013

“Athletic Endeavors”

You have to take sports challenges where you find them. They are not all found on the grass fields or hardwood courts of play. Yes, sometimes the field of play is a school bus. Often those that ride the bus have an opportunity to demonstrate their athletic skill in a rather hot and upcoming, little known sport. There are those that use the flat footed approach and hop, rabbit style. There is the more stylistic skip, which is achieved with a one foot takeoff and a one foot landing. Then there is the gymnastic approach this requires the athlete to grip the back of opposite seats with their hands lifting themselves and swing forward. It is the most athletic and can result in higher scores due to difficulty factors. Like most sports, participants are eagerly cheered on by enthusiastic onlookers and a moan of “Ohhhh” goes up with each unsuccessful attempt. It may not be well know, but for the next Olympics we will be suggesting every bus driver’s favorite sport “Jump the Puke”. The main drawback to the sport is field prep. This is usually achieved with a quickly eaten breakfast and bumpy roads.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

“Call of the Siren”

As the high school girl passed down the aisle the young boy said, “Man, she sure does smell good, I could follow her around all day”. “If I could just follow her around all day without her knowing”. It seemed to disappoint him when I informed him such a thing was called stalking and was against the law. From what I could observe from the high school boys in the back of the bus I might need to have a little talk with them also.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

“A Pause Can Kill You”

He stepped up and calmly said, “Mr. Brandon I just touched my dangly, hangy down thing”. He paused, I quit breathing. “With this finger”. Another pause, still not breathing. “You know that hangy down thing in the back of your throat”. Ok breath.

Friday, March 8, 2013

“Old Man”

The young man behind me said in a very slow and shaky voice, “Helloooooo Mr. Brandon……… how are you doing today?” “I’m good, what’s the matter with you?” I asked. “Well……. I’m an old ……… man” was his reply. “How old are you?” I asked. “Well I’m fifty years old.” “So that’s how a fifty year old man sounds?” “Yes it is because they are so old.” At this point I added, “Do I sound like that, because you know I’m older than fifty.” I lost track of the number of apologies that came my way.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

“The Older Woman”

When she stepped onto the bus for the first time it was like a new Ferrari driving onto a used car lot, all eyes were immediately focused on her. A high school girl, on a bus with elementary school boys. A hush fell over the bus because young boys quit breathing. She walked down the aisle to the back of the bus and little boys with missing teeth smiles and goofy haircuts turned as if their head were mounted on a swivel. After she passed they could smell her perfume which they knew immediately was better than the smells they usually smelled on the bus. Even a six year old can tell when an older woman has got it all going on. The bus moved forward, they turned their wide eyed dreamy looks back to the front of the bus. Then the silence was broke by a rather excited first grader with an astute observation, “Ohhhh Mr. Brandon, girls sure are pretty”. Not able to disagree with such sound logic I said, “They sure are.” “Mr. Brandon” he continued “is it fun to kiss a girl?” Looking at him in the mirror I said, “Not till you’re eighteen it’s not”. A smile formed on his pale, pudgy face and he said, “I don’t think I can wait that long”.

Friday, March 1, 2013

“Intervention Needed”

Hot Pickle Boy leaned in close and said quietly, “You know that little station over by that old store?” “Go in there and that Mexican guy named Jose, behind the counter, can get you what you want”. “That’s where I got this”. “Here take some and try it”. Then he slowly reached into his backpack and quietly handed it to me. Yes, it was just what you suspected, a beef stick. Just like any good supplier, he has given me free beef sticks for two days. I know now that the beef stick monkey is on my back it’s going to cost me. I’m currently looking for a place that specializes in beef stick rehab.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

“When Lightning Strikes”

“Mr. Brandon I need a pencil” were the first words he spoke when the first grader got on the bus. “Why?” I said. He continued, “Well I need to write a script it just came to me”. “Is it a script for a movie, tv or a play?” I asked. He informed me it was for a movie so I handed him a pencil and he went to work. Then came the questions, “How do you spell dinosaur?” “How do you spell brachiosaurs?” How do you spell T-Rex?” Later he showed me the beginnings of his script written on a paper bag. I know many great writers have started in this same way. I’m thinking of making one suggestion, because of spelling constraints his next movie should be about cats and dogs.

Monday, February 25, 2013

“A Little off the Top”

Many small southern towns are built around the town square where many little shops surround the courthouse and things are somewhat like they have been for many years. With that in mind Mr. Mucus boarded the bus all smiles because he was sporting a new haircut. I greeted him with, “Man that’s a good looking haircut”. “Thanks” he replied “we went to Fayetteville Saturday”. Knowing several barbers and getting my hair cut there also I asked, “Did you get it cut on the square?” “No Sir, just round on the sides and a little off the top” was his reply.

Friday, February 22, 2013

“Over the Hill”

We have all done it. You know, we say or do something that is on our mind and realize this was not the time, place or the right person. The look on a student’s face is great when they realize what they have just said or done. A look of terror came across the face of a fifth grade young man when as he was getting off the bus instead of saying, “Good Bye” he said, “I love you”. He seemed a little better when I smiled and said, “I love you too”. All teachers and bus drivers are used to being called, Dad or Mom but you know time is passing when it changes to mistakenly calling you Grandpa. The passing of years was made all too apparent to me when I was engaged in this conversation with a first grader. “Mr. Brandon you know that my Papa died” she started. “I know” I said, “and I’m so sorry”. “Well I’ve been thinking” she continued “I’m looking for a new Papa and I thought about it, I think it could be you”. Well how could you turn down such an adoption? So to her I have since been not Mr. Brandon but Papa.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

“Oh, Those Teenage Years”

Hearing things like, wow and this is great I look into the mirror to see the Three Stooges with their hands together up in the air like they’re doing something. When they see me looking at them they inform me that they are pretending to be teenagers and are playing video games. There are a few more wows, I guess the video games are going good, then one of them says, “Grow up man you need to be thirteen”. Then one said, “Mr. Brandon we want to grow up and be teenagers”. “Unfortunately you will” I replied. Then things must have been going really well because the next phrase I heard was, “Setting in a hot tub with friends playing video games is great”. How I had missed the hot tub setting I don’t know. They did an excellent job imitating teenagers because in the next few minutes they had gone from best friends to all of them being mad at each other. I knew they were back to their normal selves when I heard them discussing how they were going to give each other atomic wedgies.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

“Know Your Audience”

Riddles from the first and second grade crowd, shared on the bus. Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other slide. Why did the clown swallow the dog? He wanted a milkshake. Why did the clown walk in his sleep? Because he couldn’t sleep and got ran over by a car. Though these just caused a rather puzzled look to come across my face the rest of the little ones in the front of the bus thought they were hilarious. It must have been in the delivery.

Friday, February 15, 2013

“Duck Blind”

Yes Duck Dynasty has come to the bus. Hot Pickle Boy got on the bus blowing his homemade duck call. He continued to call ducks for about a mile and a half. He stopped long enough to say, “Mr. Brandon if you could pull this bus over to the side of the road we could knock a few of these windows out and we would have a place to stick our shot guns out of when the ducks start coming in”. I guess the truly sad part is I was actually contemplating whether or not a bus would make a good duck blind.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

“You Know What Day It Is”

Students getting on the bus with containers giving off the aroma of fresh baked cupcakes. Bags full of heart shaped cards and an occasional note handed to the bus driver, written with a little unsteady hand when translated says, “I love you” and a mother that handed you a heart shape, sprinkled cover donut (not sure if it was a thank you, bribe or a sorry). Then there were the two little boys who had brought heart shaped balloons for their teacher but could be used as weapons to beat each other over the head with on the way to school. The boy that kept shaking the container of sugar cookies all the way to school, hope his class likes crumbs. Finally a young man who knew the card was the most important thing so he was going through all of his card removing the suckers putting them in his pocket and the cards back in the bag. I asked one young lady if she had a card for her boyfriend her reply was, “There is a boy in kindergarten that wants to be my boyfriend but I told him N to the O”.

Friday, February 8, 2013

“Affairs of the Heart”

February oh how it brings out the love bug, what to say what to do. Two second grade boys were discussing how one of them had been practicing to kiss his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day. Seems he had been kissing the stuff deer head at home. Well another second grader came to me and asked, “Mr. Brandon how do I impress my girlfriend for Valentine’s Day?” First of all I did not pass on the practice kissing a deer head information. I said, “Well you know a small box of candy would be nice, I think she would like that”. “And maybe some flowers” he added. It wasn’t long and I saw him working on something in his seat. He had taken some paper and rolled it up into a long object that looked something like a light saber and it looked pretty nice for a rolled up piece of paper. Well he showed it to me and told me it looked kind of like a bunch of flowers and he did this because he didn’t have any real flowers. Well I assured him that it looked good and I thought it would be ok. Well he got off the bus with it and the next day he brought it back. On the ride home I asked him to quit hitting and poking people with it about three or four times. By the time he was getting off the bus it was pretty ragged looking. As he got off he passed a young lady handed it to her and said, “Here, happy Valentine’s Day made it myself” and just kept walking. I closed the door looked at a rather shocked little girl in the mirror who looked back and said, “What in the world is this?” I hope the box of candy is not half eaten.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

“Everyone is Invited”

He boarded the bus with a hand full of papers and immediately stuck them in my face and said, “Mr. Brandon what do you think?” It was about five pages of scribble marks but by the tone of the voice I knew it was supposed to be a good thing. So I shook my head and said, “Looks good, looks real good how about explaining it to me”. So he set down and explained it was his plans for his “Summer Club”. It’s a club where you just hang out for the summer and have a good time. He asked me how to spell pull and I said, “Pull, like you pull open a door?” “No” he said, “like you jump in a pull”. “Oh, you mean pool”. “Yes, pull”. “P-O-O-L”, I relied. He went on, “We are just going to hang around the pull all summer and have a good time”. Then he started making a list of all the food and drinks they would need and he solicited the help of a third grader for the spelling. Then came the good news he started explaining who was all invited to be a part of the “Summer Club” he named brothers, sisters, cousins, grandpa, grandma, even went all the way out to uncles and aunts. So if you’re in the neighborhood drop by Mr. Mucus’s house and be a part of “Summer Club”. According to him it starts, spring 4:30. I wonder if his dad knows he needs to get a pull in by then.

Monday, February 4, 2013

“Anger Management”

The Twins that are not Twins boarded the bus with rather heavy stomps of the feet. It did not take a Sherlock Holmes to see that not all was well. Trying to lighten the mood I started with, “Good morning girls how are you doing this wonderful day?” The response was immediate, loud and in stereo, “Not good, we are mad at our Daddy”. They continued in unison, “We wanted to play with the puppies four more minutes and he said no we had to get on the bus”. I quickly change to my counseling hat and say, “Girls it doesn’t help to get angry, it doesn’t change anything”. Reply, “Oh, yes it does it makes us feel better”. So I change tactics, “Girls remember your Daddy is trying to do what is best for you and he loves you”. At this point I believe I’m making some headway because they have quieted down. Then a poor unsuspecting student gets on the bus and sets next to them. One of the Twins who are not Twins looks at the boy and said, “I just want to take his head and smash it into the side of the bus”. Unaware of what might take place next, the young man without hesitation moved to another seat. Personally, I was making sure there were no obstructions to the emergency exits.

Friday, February 1, 2013

“The Right Stuff”

If by chance you have been thinking about trying your hand at the adventure that we call bus driving, here is a short quiz.
1.       The most requested item from the bus driver in the morning is a pencil. These pencils are used for:
a.       To write a letter to their teacher thanking them for the time and knowledge they have received.
b.      To write a letter to their bus driver thanking him for not running off and leaving them though they have been late to the bus four of the last five days.
c.       To finish the homework that they told their parents that they didn’t have. Having finished homework will choose to write on the seat or poke the student next to them.
2.       Bus driver would prefer to be paid:
a.       Salary
b.      By the mile
c.       By the number of times they say, “Turn around and set down”.
3.       The chance that the student that is the biggest discipline problem will not ride:
a.       Good, because the parent is working with them on the proper behavior that should be demonstrated on the school bus.
b.      Fair, because the parent has decided to drive their child to school spending some quality time building that ever so important parent child bond.
c.       The same chance you will have that someone will volunteer to help you clean the bus after someone has thrown up.
4.       The parent most likely to call the school to complain:
a.       The parent that stands and watches her children board the bus each morning and waves.
b.      The parent that gave you a nice Christmas card.
c.       The parent that has come out to the bus a number of times in a ratty old house coat that you wish they would pull closed and you on many occasions have come by their house more than once to see if they have finally come out and have gone by their house more than one time in the afternoon trying to drop their children off because no one is home.
5.       A task besides driving that a bus driver may be called on to preform:
a.       Fashion police informing students to, zip up, pull up, and button up.
b.      Counsel, intervene in arguments, wipe tears and noses, tie bows and shoes, replace hair barrettes, find lost items and help with homework.
c.       All the above and somethings you haven’t even thought of.
If you were able to pass this test then you are too smart to be a bus driver. If you failed you are either not that bright or very gullible and in that case do we have an exciting carrier for you.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

“Cutoff Date”

Ok there are some mile stones that each of us recognize. Five we start school, thirteen we are officially a teenager, sixteen driver’s license and twenty one legally an adult. There was an argument on the bus about such mile stones. It was brought to my attention like most arguments are, by the increasing volume of the two involved. Because bus drivers are omniscient (no it’s not something you can be arrested for) I was called to settle the argument. It started like this. “You are not a soldier you are just a little kid.” “I am not a little kid, I’m eight years old.” “You are not eight you’re only seven.” “Well I’m almost eight.” “Mr. Brandon, tell him I’m not a little kid.” I have done some research and as of yet have been unable to establish the little kid cutoff date.

Friday, January 25, 2013

“Good and Evil”

One of the true joys of working with children is the moment of discovery. When that light bulb comes on and a new door is opened that leads to new experiences. One of those door opening abilities is reading. A young boy came to me so excited he was reading a book. He wanted to share every line and illustration. There is nothing like a good book to fill the minds of a young reader with the possibilities of adventure. There are so many classic children’s tales that we have grown to love, Old Yeller, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, Where the Wild Things Are and so many more that you have read to your own children with fond memories. This morning’s book was a classic story of a young hero in the never ending battle of good vs evil. Clothed in nothing but his tidy whities Captain Underpants fights to free us from the grasp of such villains as killer toilets and lunchroom zombie nerds. God bless you Captain Underpants.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Though it may seem that things have been quiet it is actually just the opposite. The conversation for several days has been monopolized by the P.R. that would be the Puppy Report. It seems that the Twins that are not Twins have new puppies at their house. Each morning as they get on the bus the report starts. The problem is I have no idea what they are talking about. They go to the seat directly behind me, one starts talking in the right ear the other starts talking in my left ear both talking as fast as they can. The only thing I can tell you with certainty is they have puppies. Aside from that there was a moment of disappointment from Mr. Mucus. A student got on the bus and he said, “Good morning pistachio”. After they passed I heard, “Oooh! That was supposed to be Pinocchio”. And there was must have been some excitement in the back of the bus because a first grader shouted, “Sweet Mamma!” Past experience is that phrase always means excitement.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

“The True Face of Joy”

A cute little girl out of school early, trying to catch a snowflake on her tongue as she skips down her driveway towards her house. Yes, the true face of joy is, the bus driver who knows he is going home early and can hear the recliner calling his name.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

“Nothing New”

From the beginning of time young men have undergone rites of passage. These endeavors help a young man grow both physically and mentally. I know that somewhere in time there where two young men who were the first to decide that they would see how close they could come to hitting the other one in the face without making contact, to test each other’s bravery. I have no doubt that it has taken place in the deserts of Egypt, the plains of China and the backyard of hundreds of households across North America. Well today it took place drivers side, row two of a big yellow school bus. I’ve never really understood who the loser is, the one who makes contact first or the one who ends up with the bloody nose. What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun
(Ecclesiastes 1:9).

Monday, January 14, 2013

“Is He The One?"

A discussion with one of the older girls about a boy in her class. Young lady, “Mr. Brandon he just keeps asking me if I will go out with him but I don’t think he would be good for me”. I replied, “That’s a good way to look at it, if he doesn’t make you a better person or make you want to be a better person than he is not who you should date”. “I know” she said “If I dated him all he would make me want to do is punch him in the face”. She continued, “I don’t date him and I still want to punch him in the face every time I see him”. At this point in time I believe his chances are slim.

Friday, January 11, 2013

“This Looks Like a Job for a Bus Driver”

Each day I dropped the little first grader off at a little community store. His Grandmother and Mother live next door and run the store. You know the kind of store, the one where you can buy a cigarette not a whole pack. Each day is the same, I pull up to let him off and Bubba, his little brother, runs out in his underwear maybe a t-shirt, to wave at the bus and meet his brother. While passing through the neighborhood, after my route was over, I decided to stop in for a snack. As I go into the store there are the boys running around playing. The mother looking at me says, “Oh, Mr. Brandon I’m so glad that you came by I could sure use your help”. Well if you have ever been in this kind of situation it’s quite humbling when someone asks for help. Knowing that she is a single mother, no male influence in the household to help with the boys and doing her best to make a living and do what she can for her family. I was a little taken back that she would confide in me but I stepped closer and said, “I’ll be glad to, how can I help?” She looked at the boys, looked back at me, leans forward and in a quiet voice said, “I need you to talk to Bubba”. She then told me what she needed me to talk to Bubba about. So while setting on the steps drinking RC Colas and sharing a bag of peanuts we discussed why Bubba needed to start wearing pants, if he was going to start school next year. Not sure if my reasoning was all that sound but I gave it a shot.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

“Promotional Gimmick”

As Mr. Mucus boarded the bus with a, “Yessssss the school bus” I knew he was primed to go. It wasn’t long and I looked in the mirror and saw him putting a long piece of tape under his nose. He saw me looking and said, “What? It’s a moustache”. He then properly interpreted the look of, you have got to be kidding me, which I gave him and continued, “I got it free with my cappuccino”. The first thought that flashed to mind was, I have been driving through this neighborhood for a number of years, so how had I missed a Starbucks? Was it hidden behind the barn on the corner? Was it down a bit by the stock pond where the horses water or was it near where I often slow down to let chickens cross the road? Secondly, this was a promotion I had not even heard of. I refocused, he gave me a thumbs up signal assuring me he was self-confident in his new look. He must have had a change of heart because before we had gotten to school he had torn it in half putting a piece under each eye and said he was a football player. Personally I think he should have stuck with the moustache, though you do tend to get foam in it from the cappuccinos.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


I know that many of us have difficulty with dates or specific time. You know was it yesterday or the day before? One of the Twins that are Not Twins may have set a record with time distortion. She was trying to tell me about a car that had been stuck in the ditch next to her house. It started like this, “Mr. Brandon, yesterday……. or three months ago there was this car….” I’m thinking they need to work with the concept of time in the first grade.

Monday, January 7, 2013

“Extra Effort”

As Mr. Mucus got on the bus I said, “Kind of frosty out there this morning”. He replied, “That’s why you got a D.J. on the bus”. Naturally being at a complete lose for what that meant and wondering if it was the same kind of D.J. that I was thinking of because I was unaware of one that was used exclusively for frosty weather, I asked, “What’s a D.J.?” “It’s a person that spins records so you can dance” he replied. At the same time he through his hands in several different directions and continued, “By the way I’ve learned some new hip hop moves and will be giving some free lesson today if you want to take them”. At this point he is pulling off his jacket to show me his new cub scout t-shirt and explained to me that two fingers in the air means listen with your wolf ears. Before he put his jacket back on he said, “Mr. Brandon do you know what my jacket says?” I gave it a quick glance and said, “I don’t know, what does it say?” He looked at it this way and that, up and down and I heard him mumble, “What does this thing say?” Giving up he turned it back to me and said, “Come on man you’ve got to try harder”. Sometimes a little extra effort is what is needed.