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

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.