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, December 18, 2014

"Holiday Greetings"

For your sanity and mine let’s just jump to the last verse.
On the twelfth day of Christmas my riders gave to me:
Twelve pencils drumming
Eleven paper wads flying
Ten preschoolers leaping
Nine kids a crawling
Eight candy wrappers
Seven "My tooth is missing."
Six kindergartners crying
Five……….”He touched me”
Four giggly girls
Three stooges
Two handcuffs
And a “Mr. Brandon he just threw up.”

Thursday, December 11, 2014

"The Aroma of Romance"

There is nothing more profound and deep than the knowledge of middle school students.  So as two middle school boys were discussing their girlfriends I listened intently, you know to try and pick up some tips on how to treat that special someone.  First problem to ponder was how do you really know she is your girlfriend?  Well I know for me it was while we were playing, The Game of Life.  You know with those little cars that you drove around on the game board.  There was a space where you had to take a wife and you put those little plastic figures in the car.  When I landed on that square and started to put my little plastic wife in the car Terri spoke up and said don’t you put me in the back seat.  I thought, “Oh yeah!”  Knowing that I was born in the dark ages and middle schoolers are much more “With it” now, I was open to new ideas.  He was sure she was his girlfriend because he had offered her his sweatshirt and she had accepted it.  “Well are you ever going to get it back?” his friend asked.  “It’s like this,” Mr. Sophisticated said.  “She’ll wear it until it loses my scent.”  Now thinking back on middle school and in particular middle school boys I don’t see why a young lady would even start to wear a middle school boy’s sweatshirt until it lost his stench, I mean scent.  Have you ever heard of a cologne called “Middle School Boy”?

"Stop Me If You Can"

We are often inspired by stories of people who overcome.  They face obstacles that seem impossible.  But through perseverance and a strength that can only be found deep inside of oneself they do that which seemed impossible.  Yet even in this age of great knowledge and resources there are peaks that have yet to be climbed.  In scriptures James talks about one such peak, “But the tongue can no man tame”.  I submit as proof to James’s statement these three instances when the tongue is an unstoppable force: 1. A young lady with a new engagement ring.   2. A grandmother with baby pictures.  3. A third grader with a new riddle book. Oh, what’s purple and hums? An electric grape.

Monday, December 8, 2014

"Miles To Go and A Promise To Keep"

The first thing he said to me after we exchanged the usual pleasantries of “Good morning” was, “Mr. Brandon I’m hungry.” Not an unusual statement especially from him.  So I reassured him that we would soon be at school and he could get some breakfast.  “No,” he protested, “I’m really hungry.  Could we stop at the Waffle House?” I have to admit the idea of some hash browns covered, smothered, and chunked was very appealing.  Before I could give the negative response that should have been obvious he pleaded again, “Come on Mr. Brandon let’s stop at the Waffle House.”  Knowing the bond of trust that is between driver and student I proceeded cautiously, “I tell you what we’ll do, if we pass a Waffle House on our route today I will pull in and let you order anything you want.” A smile of satisfaction spread across his face and all was right in the world. So as the big yellow limo rumbled on down the road on a route that we had traveled so many times that every house, tree, trashcan, and dog was familiar to both of us, he set back in complete contentment mumbling to himself what all he was going to order if we passed a Waffle House mmmmmm.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"The Power of Words"

Words and what they can do, has been described and discussed throughout history.  Used correctly they remove the gap between the effluent and pauper.  Mark Twain once stated, "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."  But the power of words was demonstrated to me in this way.  As the preschoolers lined up to board the bus I did a quick survey of the little ones.  A small girl with bouncy little pig tails and a sweet little smile stepped forward to explain to me why one of her class mates had gone home and would not be riding the bus.  "Mr. Brandon," she said with a serious look " he had to go home he had diary."  I guess he was moved by the word.

Friday, November 7, 2014

"Icing On The Cake"

The bus made several slow turns down into the river bottom.  During the night it had rained washing everything clean.  Now the rising sun was glistening off the gold of the hickory trees, the reds of the maples, and the yellows and browns of the oaks. Turning I followed the edge of the river, off to the right deer were browsing in a corn field that had been harvested. Squirrels scampered across the road as they collected the bountiful harvest.  God through nature had painted an autumn picture that not even the most talented artist could attempt.  Ignoring the racket behind me I thought, “How could this morning be any better?”  As if in answer to my thoughts a young lady handed me a rectangular piece of paper that had writing on it.  She said it was a 99,000 dollar bill and she wanted me to have it.  Icing on the cake.  Retirement just moved a little closer.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

"Not In The Bricks"

Friday morning after the bus route my wife and I headed for Arkansas.  The state where there is a razorback on every other building and unlike many states where there are in state rivalries, in Arkansas they all holler, “Soooooooeeeeeee Pig”.  After crossing the mighty Mississippi at Memphis you make your way down through rice country where it is wide open and flat, and the fields are plowed with tractors that look big enough to pull a house from its foundation.  Small share cropper shacks from a time past still line the roads as you make your way through little farming communities like Forrest City, Wynne, Parkin, and Bald Knob.  As you leave the rice country, the landscape becomes rolling hills and you come to a very ordinary, unassuming town called Searcy.  Though it may not mean anything to most of the people that I associate with each day, this was our destination.  And on this weekend, it was the destination of many just like us.  In this small Arkansas town in the foothills of the Ozarks lies Harding University, our alma mater, and it was homecoming weekend.  I know Universities all over the country have homecoming weekends every year, yet for a little over seventy people of two social clubs, it was a reuniting after thirty plus years of being apart.  We made the turn that comes into the north part of town to be greeted by store after store that were unfamiliar, with restaurants that can be found in any big city.  Where was the five for a dollar burger joint?  We did see the place where my wife and I used to buy groceries but it had a new name and it was weathered by time.  We both instantly said, “Do you remember the Coke war?”  It was a time when the store decided to sell as many Cokes as they could and you could return the bottles for the deposit and get more back then what you paid for them.  Not recognizing much, we decided to turn and make our way down to where we had lived in our very first apartment.  At the time, they were called the “Old married students apartments”, not that the students were old, but it’s that the apartments were old.  As we slowed to take a look where we had started our home there was nothing to see, it was now over flow parking for the football stadium.  We then made our way to the campus.  We knew where to find that….unlike over thirty years ago when I followed a car with a Harding College bumper sticker hoping they would drive past the campus.  We parked and made our way onto campus.  I did the man thing and reassured my wife that I knew exactly where we were.  After many turns and unfamiliar buildings I finally admitted defeat and said, “I don’t have a clue where we are.  I just hope we can find the truck again.”  We found the book store, which in days past held only academic supplies and four different college t-shirts.  It was now called the “HUB” with shelves full of mugs, banners, a section of computers, and enough sporting apparel to outfit any pro sports team.  In the student center there was a coffee shop for the fashionable university students, who didn’t look old enough to be here, to set and pass the time drinking coffees that I can’t pronounce.  Where were the wobbly old tables at the snack bar, and what had become of the dusty old bison head that had graced the front wall?  We then made our way to what we were sure would be unchanged.  We were not disappointed.  Opening before us was the lawn of the main campus in front of the administration building.  There stood the tall oaks that had been there before the university itself.  Scattered across the lawn were the familiar Harding swings, a great place to pass the time, talk to a friend and sometimes where friendships became something even more.  We stopped two young girls who were busy on their phones and ask them if they would take a picture of us together in a swing that we had our picture taken in long ago.  We spent the afternoon talking of old memories and looking at all the new.  When the time finally came for us get together with those who were there for the same purpose, there was a sense of trepidation.  We were headed to the President’s and his wife’s house for supper.  The President of the University and his wife are a wonderful Godly couple but we felt an extra sense of pride, for they were also one of us, class mates and club mates.  We had shared ball games, classes, campaigns, picnics and prayers together.  The First Lady of the University actually cut my hair a few times while I set on a stump on the front lawn of the University.  As the people started to arrive small groups huddled together and said, “Who is that and who is that?”  Time had not only changed the looks of the campus but of us also.  Then the strangest thing happened.  When they smiled and you looked into their eyes and heard familiar voices, the years passed away and the room was soon filled with nineteen and twenty year olds that were just coming from a ball game or class or planning some trip for the weekend.  People were called by nicknames that they had not heard in years.  Silly songs were sung that mean nothing to anyone but us. There was talk of those who were not able to be with us and there was talk of those who have gone before us and wait for us in eternity.  We had left school many years ago started filling our homes with little feet and now here we were, our homes empty again, except for the occasional sound of our grandchildren’s feet.  We were starting careers and now were talking of retirement.   A whole lifetime had passed since we had seen each other and we were talking as if we had never been separated.  For several hours there was no gray hair, or lack of hair.  The extra pounds were gone.  Joints didn’t hurt and we were young and ready to conquer the world again.  As we held hands and prayed together, before we left, there was no such thing as separation or time.  This morning I held my back as I got out of bed.  My knees and ankles popped as I started to the bathroom.  I looked in the mirror, the gray hair and pounds had returned.  But I think at least for a while, there will be just a little more youth in my steps, if only in my mind, thanks to my dear friends that are a part of me no matter the length of time or distance measured in miles.  For there is something that holds us together that is more than the bricks and mortar of an institution. It’s a spirit, a feeling that is far beyond words.   A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

Thursday, October 30, 2014

"Hope Springs Eternal"

There was just enough chill in the air that when you stepped outside and took your first breath it caused a slight tingle on its way down.  But with it came that feeling that made you want to throw your shoulders back and greet the morning with a smile.  The sun was just begining to paint the leaves on the maples with red and gold.  Yesterday was past and whatever struggles had been a part of it, were now behind.  A new day was now on the horizon and the possibilities were boundless.  He stepped from the porch and walked to the bus in a way that said, "Look out world I'm in charge and nothing can stop me."  He came on the bus and gave me a sly little smile of confidence and set his short, round, self down in the seat like a king on his throne.  Sliding to the window he surveyed his realm.  He dared the world to try and bring him down.  A few stops later another young man, of the same stature and size, boarded the bus and set down next to him.  The King's countenance fell and in a voice that sounded of bitter despair he said, "Man, I wanted a cute girl to set by me!"  His visage was of one bitterly wounded.  The air of triumph now held the odor of despair.  The leaves lost their luster.  The air was now just cold.  Fall had changed into winter in an instant.  Oh, how quickly life can fiind the strongest man's Achilles' heel and bring him to his knees in defeat.  Well, maybe tomorrow.

Friday, October 24, 2014

"Tools of the Trade"

Bus driver preparedness:

These are phrases all new bus drivers need to familiarize themselves with before starting their new bus job.

1.  Please be seated.  Thank you.

2.  Stop licking the windows.  They've already been cleaned today.

3.  Stop licking the seat.  It will cause a blister on your tongue.

4.  Stop licking the person next to you.  People don't taste that good.

5.  No, you cannot get off at the gas station and get a coke.  Unless you're buying for everyone.

6.  Put the handcuffs up.  No I'm not sure why your parents would have them.

7.  Leave the cactus up here by me.  It might get damaged from the other kids.

8.  No, I cannot close my eyes for you to do a magic trick.  Can you make yourself disappear?

9.  Stop swinging your underwear over your head and put them up.  Yes, I'm glad they're clean.

10. Yes, I know his grandfather is only wearing boxer shorts with sugar baby written on them.  

       But wasn't it nice for him to walk his grandchild to the bus?

11. Those dogs are only wrestling.  They must be good friends.

12. Yes, I know the bus is hot darling.  But you need to put your shirt back on.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"Watch for Flying Bananas"

Have you ever wondered with all the action movies filled with ever so skillful ninjas why you have never meet many in everday life or any at all?  Yes, I know they are ever so stealthy and are the masters of concealment but surely you would run into one ever once in a while.  The mystery was solved for me by a third grader.  I quote, "To be a ninja you have to train for fifty years.  To be an expert ninja you have to train for one hundred years."  So to improve my chances of meeting a ninja I'm going to visit several retirement homes in the area and throw fruit at some of the oldest people and see if they pull out a samurai sword and cut the fruit in half in midair. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

"Elective Surgery"

The conversation ended with a sad little voice saying, "But, I want my brain back."  Seems one imaginative little rider thought it would be neat if you could change brains with someone or something else.  The only problem was he didn't know how to do brain surgery.  Lucky for him the little boy in the seat with him said he did know how to do brain surgery.  Then plans were made for who would be swapping with whom.  The young man across the aisle wanted to be a part of the great experiment but it did not turn out as he had hoped.  They spotted an old horse, on the side of the road, that was far from a show animal and told him they were going to trade his brain for the horse's brain.  He was not at all happy with the prospect.  Taking into account all the advantages and disadvantages, I'm not sure the horse would have been crazy about it either.

Friday, October 3, 2014

"Honing Our Senses"

Not all students learn in the same way.  The more a person works with a number of senses the more likely they are to have a deeper understanding of their surroundings. On the bus we seem to be falling short in the area of sense perception.  First we tested the visual senses by identifying road kill.  We passed the first victim, test subject, it was identified as a raccoon.  The way the body was laying and legs protruding it seemed to be a dead give away.  Yet on closer examination, on the next time by, it proved to be a ground hog.  We talked about the important clues.  Sharp front teeth and no rings on the tail.  Test question one, wrong.  The next test subject they should have been able to do with eyes closed.  The possum, America's number one road kill, was incorrectly identified as a skunk. Pointed out the obvious, no smell and no hair on tail.  Question two, wrong.  To improve our odds we changed over to a live subject.  That did the trick, they were able to properly identify the subject as, large black dog doing his morning buisness in the neighbor's yard.  Having not fared well on the visual part of the test we moved to the auditory portion.  A young man started blowing into his hand.  Immediately it was identified by all involved as a duck.  They received only partial credit because it was a duck, but he said it was a duck letting a fart.  That in turn brought up the olfactory portion of the test when three young men pulled up their shirts over their noses and said, "Man what did you eat last night? Tacos or chilie dogs?" My burning eyes felt they were on the right track. He threw everyone a curve ball when he replied, "Fish".  The tactile or touch portion of the test we skipped.  We highly discourage the sense of touch on the bus.  There were no taste questions on the test but you would be surprised how many of the little ones could tell you what a window or seat taste like.  A disappointing score of 1.5.  I refuse to take all the blame, parents just aren't as involved with their kids as they used to be.  Your bus driver can not do it all. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

"School Bus Challenge"

It has been one year since I posted the twirl story.  We have decided to make it an annual event so we have declared October "Put a little twirl in your life" month. Please post your twirling story, pictures or video if you can. Let us know where you're at (place, town, state or if you're out of the country let us know.  Pass it on to your friends. Have a twirl it can't hurt. I'll start with some pictures of the little girl who got the story started.

"Don't Forget To Twirl"

Oct 30, 2013, 7:30 AMbyTom Brandon

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.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

"Pay it Forward"

The elementary school equivalent of the Hollywood red carpet treatment is picture day.  Four steps up onto the bus, pause, pose in front of the driver, wait for the approving Oh, Wow, Nice, or a thumb up signal.  A third grader boarded feeling good towards all mankind and said, "When Dad helped me with my shirt this morning he said, "Boy you been losing some weight you're looking good." There is nothing that makes you kind towards others like feeling good about yourself.  So he passed on the good vibes.  As a much older girl, a sixth grader, got on the bus he said with a slow Barry White voice, for a third grader, "Who's the pretty lady?  You're looking sexy."  There was a time out from the bus driver explaining how the term "sexy" was inappropriate for a third grader to a sixth grader.  After an understanding, yes, he continued when a young man got on the bus with, "Looking good."  The next young man received a "Looking sharp, keep that up and you'll have a girlfriend in no time at all."  After a few more comments to his fellow students he turned his remarks to me.  He said, "You know Mr. Brandon when it comes to picture day," I prepared myself for the compliment to come, "you might want to lose a little weight for next year's pictures." "Lay off the hamburgers."  I'm now rethinking my choices for lunch and whether or not he is walking home this afternoon.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

"Bold Move"

She set down behind me on the bus next to a young man that was in her class.  There was the usual conversation that goes on between a boy and girl in elementary school.  Then I over heard this from him, "You are the most beautiful girl that I know and I think I love you." "Whoa! big boy." I said.  "Slow down, slow down." "That's what I'm trying to tell him." she replied.  "Hey, Mr. Brandon," he started "be quiet, I'm trying to get a date here."  I'm not sure where the conversation went after that.  It must have gone well because as they got off the bus she was wearing his camouflage hat.  And we all know what sharing a hat at the elementary school level means.  That's right they will both have head lice before the week is out.  They say love is blind, but it can also be itchy.

Friday, September 12, 2014

"Mr. Grammar"

Simile: a phrase that uses the work like or as to describe someone or something by comparing it with someone or somthing else that is similar.  Hearing a high pitched squeal come from the back half of the bus I used my extensive knowledge of the English language and chose the only simile that would be appropriate for the situation.  So with my bus driver authoritative voice I yelled, "Hey, whoever is doing that stop squealing like a little girl."  Then I settled back in the thought of a job. well done.  Immediately a little blond head popped up and said, "But I am a little girl."  The squealing continued, I hummed softly to myself as we continued down the road.  Well played little girl, well played.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


It was just daylight, and the sun had not quite graced the horizon.  He came to the bus with his backpack thrown over one shoulder a thumb under the strap holding it in place.  In the other hand he carried his sun glasses, yes sun glasses.  You know how the glare of the sun can beat down on you as you ride a school bus before sun up.  He paused at the steps, holding the sun glasses by one ear piece he looked up at me, one eye brow up one down, then flicked the glasses so the other ear piece swung gracefully out.  Then ever so slowly he slid them into place.  Every bit the man of mystery.  Oh, I get it not worn for practicality but for fashion purposes.  He proceeded up the steps, paused at the mirror, took the glasses off, smoothed back his hair, and slowly slid them back on like the bad biker boy.  As he was seated I looked in the mirror to see him pull the glasses off again, he looked at me in the mirror and placed the glasses just so they set on the lower part of his nose and the ear pieces just touched the ears.  As he continued to look at me over the top of the glasses he placed one finger on the bridge of the glasses and slowly pushed the glasses up his nose and into place in the, I don't want to be disturbed move.  With this being done he placed his hands behind his head and leaned back in the seat in satisfaction.  The removing and replacing continued a number of times using ever model move he had ever seen on tv.  He removed and replaced his sun glasses enough times, I am convinced, to have raised a blister on his ears.  A trained model could not have demonstrated the merchandise better.  Then came the sales pitch.  As another young man boarded the bus he pulled the glasses off with one hand, tipped the ear pieces toward the young man in typical authority fashion and said, "Son, your Daddy needs to get you a pair of sun glasses just like this.  You can find them in the sporting goods section of Wal-Mart."  Then in his ever so sophisticated fashion he slid them back on.  I don't know if he is receiving any compensation, but I almost felt I needed a pair.

Friday, August 29, 2014

"Things To Live For"

We have all looked at ourselves in pictures from the past, took in the styles and said, "What were we thinking?"  Fashion changes and so does music.  It seems every generation thinks their music is the best. Some music comes in a flash and is gone and some hangs painfully on.  But some music bridges generations and is born anew.  A student called out, "Mr. Brandon, I think something is wrong with him."  I turn to find a young man, with his Bass Pro Shop hat turned backwards, laid back in the seat, furiously playing the air guitar.  One look at me and he threw up his hands and yelled out, "I live for Rock and Roll and ..................peaches."  One look at his little rollie pollie self and I realized he lives for more than Rock and Roll and peaches.  I think there's some mash potatoes and gravy in there also.  Hey, I've got no problem with that, everything is better with gravy, even Rock and Roll.  

Thursday, August 28, 2014

"Guess Who?"

If it is true that necessity is the mother of invention then profit must be the father. Even at the precious, innocent age of six and seven I had a group of boys scheming, well planning ways to make money. They discussed  and rejected a number of plans and then settled on one they felt showed some promise. Arrow heads, if they could just find enough Indian arrow heads they could sell them and make a lot of money.  Places that they might find such items were talked over and then one of them was hit by a tidal wave of genius. "No, no wait" he said. "Forget that I've got it." There was a short pause all attention was on him. The lack of money problem was forever solved. "A time machine, all we have to do is make a time machine and we'll be rich." "The only problem is I don't think I have all the parts we will need at my house." The momentary monkey wrench in the plan was removed when another spoke up and said, "But I do at my house." Plans are now being formulated. I'm not sure if I'm pulling for their success or not. I do know that these boys are a hand full in the present. If they start popping in and out of my past or my future I'm going to need a break.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

"No Tolerance"

A young man wrote a note calling another young man on the bus a derogatory name and then handed it to  him.  There was the expected "What?" and then he started showing all the students around him what he had been given.  They were all in disbelief that someone could write in such a fashion.  The verbal flogging the writer received was vicious.  His little brother even showed his disapproval and told him what he did wrong.  I looked out of the corner of my eye to see the writer slowly sliding down out of site with a very distraught look on his face.  I don't think he will do this again and if he does, he will do it properly.  I mean in an educational setting if you are going to call someone an ugly name you had better spell it correctly or they will be all over you. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

"Information for Future Use"

The young boys gave out several bits of information one morning that should be filed away for future use.  

1. Do not walk behind a horse.  He will kick you where you don't want to be kicked.  Especially in the peanuts. (Personally, I can't think of a place I would want to be kicked by a horse.  When one of them asked if they knew what he meant by peanuts.  One of them replied, "I'm not sure but I've always liked cashews.")

2. If you are going to throw a rock at a snake, it has to be a flat rock.

3. My route goes farther South than I thought.  While they looked at a compass that one of them had removed from his book bag.  I was informed, "Mr. Brandon, we just passed South."

So the next time you are headed to or past South, run into a snake and cannot find a flat rock you know what to do.  Throw him behind a horse to get kicked in the peanuts or cashews whatever you prefer.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

"A Boy From The Past"

He paused to take a look in the mirror before he went to sit down. Pulled out a comb and started working on a style of hair cut I had not seen on a young boy for a long time.  As he worked on it he said, "Mr. Brandon, you really need to train your hair if you wear a flat top." He continued to slowly comb with an upward motion. He put each hair in place in a way that would make a child of the fifties proud. I asked if he could continue his training in his seat. The next young man to get on set next to him and his hair was all spiked up in the middle.  They looked at each other and almost at the same time said, "Don't touch the hair." Then they compared hair styles and hair products.  One said, "Flat top and Brylcreem, smells good."  The other said, " Spike and Hair Gel, no smell." I'll let you guess which one lives with his Grandfather.

Monday, August 11, 2014


"Hey, Mr. Brandon I'm going to tie myself up." Was the cry that came from about two seats back.  It was a young man that has always been quite "mobile", let us say.  So it sounded like a good idea to me.  I had often thought of it myself but the school system is a little picky about tying up students on the bus.  Yes, political correctness run amuck.  He went to work with a long string that he had brought from home and seemed to be succesful.  Yet it was not long and he was moving about again.  I gave him that "What are you doing?" look.  "Well, sorry," he said "I did a Houdini on you."  Next time I may supply chains and locks and see how that works out.

Friday, August 8, 2014


A first grade girl, that usually got on the bus full of excitement, set down behind me and I heard a deep sigh.  There was a pause then in a small soft voice she said, "You know Mr. Brandon, my Papa died."  This is always difficult because you never know what their understanding is of the situation. I told her how sorry I was about what had happened.  "Mr. Brandon," she started "now that I don't have a Papa I'm going to need another one.  I've been thinking and I think it could be you."  How do you turn down an offer like that?  I had never been adopted before.  After that she would tell the kids at school that I was her Papa.  When they asked if I was, I always said yes. Later there was a change of schools and now several years have passed and it has been some time since I have seen her.  Then my bus route changed and I stopped to pick up a group of older students and who got on the bus?  A beautiful young lady, that I had known as a funny full of life little girl. I thought do I say something and take the chance of looking like a foolish old man, you know Papas are like that sometimes.  Oh well why not, and I said, "How has my granddaughter been?" She smiled and gave me a hug and said, "Just fine". As she got off the bus she said, "Goodbye Papa."  It felt as good as the first time she said it.  Family, it either makes you crazy or makes you smile there's not much middle ground.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

"Out of Context"

As anyone that has ever worked in a school setting can tell you, school employees do not exist outside the boundaries of the school.  When you meet one of your students in the grocery store or in a restaurant or Wal-Mart, the mother land for most of your students, they look at you with little puzzled faces wondering, trying to make the connection.  Well, as the start of school comes to a reality, bus drivers will make a trip around the route that they will be driving to check to see who has moved out, who has moved in, and who has rearranged their cars and basketball goals in the road to test your driving abilities.  As I was making my rounds in my truck I pulled into a drive where I turn around each morning of the school year.  There sitting on the porch was my best buddy Mr. Mucus drinking a coke.  I rolled down my window and yelled, "Hey, bring me a drink of that."  He looked for a few seconds than ran out to talk to me.  After an exchange of "How was your summer?" we came to the question that was really perplexing his young mind.  He started with a very surprised look and said, "Mr. Brandon, how did you know where I live?"  A short pause from me hoping that the answer would come to him, no luck.  "Could it be that I've been picking you up and driving you home from school each day for four years?"  The eyebrows went down and the look of deep thought came over him, he was not going to be tricked into giving a wrong answer.  Then slowly a grin appeared on his face and he said, "Oh!"  Another mystery solved.

Friday, May 23, 2014

"Parental Neglect"

Sooner or later young boys start to ask questions.  I personally feel that many or our parents today have neglected to talk to their children about facts they should know.  Often it seems that they leave that up to teachers or hope their children will learn it from their older siblings or maybe from their friends.  I don't know if it's the awkwardness of the questions or the fear that they may introduce information to their child before they are really old enough to understand.  A curious young man approached me with some questions while we were driving down the road.  It may not have been my place but I thought I would answer him as honestly as I could.  While I tried to explain the whole parental dynamics to him another young man across the aisle added in half-truths showing he too did not understand the facts.  After I finished his face took on an ashen color and there was a slow drawn out "Whaaaaat?"  I think we can all relate.  There is not one of us that did not have the same reaction when we found out that Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker's dad.  Then I think I lost him when I tried to explain that movies 4, 5, and 6 came before 1, 2, and 3.  I think he will figure it all out in time.  Parents make sure your kids know the facts and don't pick up misinformation on the street.  It's not safe.

Monday, May 12, 2014


I did not really want to put him off the bus.  He had treated me kinder than anyone else that day.  There was no doubt in my mind that he was the smartest one on the bus.  Everyone on the bus seemed to like him.  But his behavior was just not acceptable.  From the time he stepped on the bus he was down the aisle, back up the aisle, and down again.  He seemed oblivious to what I was trying to tell him.  The whole bus seemed to be in an uproar.  It was clear; I would have to leave the parking brake set, the flashing pick up lights going, and get up out of my seat if I was ever going to get control of the situation.  The traffic on the road was now backing up in both directions with drivers who were anxious to be on their way.  I tried to talk to him in a calm manner yet it did not have the effect I hoped it would.  So I had no other choice but to go down the aisle and confront him.  Just as I was in reach he crawled under a seat.  There was no way out except back to me.  He didn't move so I asked the students in the seat to lift their legs so he could exit out the front.  I directed him right to the front and off the bus closing the door as quickly behind him as I could.  He turned and gave me a quick look that would have broken a lesser man's will.  I knew it was a lesson learned.  I released the parking brake and drove on.  I could see in the rear view mirror that he took a few steps toward the bus as we drove off and then gave up realizing that it was futile.  So for all you that were stuck in the traffic jam while I dealt with this problem I apologize.  And if that dog, that was the size of a small pony, gets on my bus again I'm bringing him to school.  I feel that in dog years he is a high school student so I will let him transfer over to the high school bus and let him go from there.

Friday, May 9, 2014

"Running On Jet Fuel"

Looking down the road I could see the usual blur of commotion up ahead.  I reluctantly came to a stop to pick up the poster child for hyperactivity and his brother, who was runner up in the poster contest.  They were engaged in their preboarding ritual of running in a circle trying to kick each other in the rear while attempting to also hit each other in the head with a book bag.  The bus doors opened the circle broke and now the bumper car dash started.  Each running and banging into the other, fighting for position as they made that critical turn around the front of the bus.  The proper timing and positioning can determine if you are the first through the door and up the steps.  On more than one occasion a brother has been bumped in this crucial turn causing him to spin out in the gravel and roll into the ditch on the side of the road.  This day, even for them, they seemed to be running on a higher octane fuel.  They were up the steps in a florescent flash.  The poster child stopped at his seat and immediately started jumping up and down shouting, "I've got orange!  I've got orange!  Even my socks are orange!"  The reason for the extra enthusiasm was now aperient.  What parent in their right mind takes two children, whose energy output would put General Electric to shame, and dresses one in florescent orange and the other in florescent green?  Thanks Mom, for pulling the pin out of that hand grenade and throwing it on my bus.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

"Lawn Mower"

As I pulled up to the first grader's house something in the yard caught my attention.  As he came up the steps I gave him that questioning, puzzled look.  You know, one eyebrow up one eyebrow down.  I looked back to the yard and then back to him.  He knew exactly what I was puzzled about.  Now when your bus route is in the country you expect to see things not indigenes to the city but it's still odd to hear the phrase, "Not my donkey!  Belongs to my dad's friend."  Then a fourth grader added, "Looks like someone got a new lawn mower."

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

"Living The Dream"

Before the second grader was seated he removed a walkie talkie from his belt and started speaking into it, "Yes, I'll need a large soft drink and look in the refrigerator and bring that left over spaghetti up to the school."  He paused looked at me and said, "Man, that place last night had the best spaghetti in the world."  Holding up his fist he continued, "Those meatballs were this big."  He returned to the walkie talkie with, "Yes, that will be all for now."  I wanted to ask, but before I could a student interjected, "Who was that?"  "Oh, that was Bertrim my personal butler," he said with a wave of his hand.  I thought of the house where I picked him up and I came to the realization that the servant's quarters had been cleverly disguised as a tool shed.  I assume this was for tax purposes.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

"Gift Advice"

It all started the day before when the Twins That Are Not Twins asked if I had gotten my wife a present.  Being a man I was not sure if I had forgotten some national holiday or if I had forgotten a personal day and my wife had made some calls to put the word out.  I informed them that I had not gotten my wife a present.  Immediately I was verbally attacked in stereo with, "How come?" and "Why not?"  Being of the female gender they followed the criticism with gifting advice.  "Mr. Brandon, it's not that hard if you can't buy anything just go into her room and find a ring or necklace that she is not wearing put it in a box or bag and give it to her as a present."  They said they did that to their mom all the time and it worked just fine.  The next day they felt they needed to follow up on our conversation and asked again, "Did you get your wife a present?"  I had to answer, "No" again.  So they started in, "Mr. Brandon, just find any little thing with a hole in it, run a string through it, and you have a necklace."  They finished with, "Come on big man you need to do something."  Personlly when I get a chance I'm checking my wife's phone history to see who she has been calling.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"Go West Young Man"

The second grader stepped onto the bus with all the confidence and resolve of a modern day Meriwether Lewis.  He was dressed in cargo shorts with the standard one hundred and fifty pockets filled with the items needed for a grueling trek across the vast wilderness.  His t-shirt extended well below his waist line and he wore a black dress belt around his waist.  Not in the loops of his pants just around his waist on top of the t-shirt.  On the belt there was a small nylon pouch.  He stepped beside me and with the sound of Velcro being parted he produced a compass from the small pouch.  He held it out for me to see and informed me, "I will be keeping us on track today."  He looked at the compass with a concentration that is only known by those who realize that the lives and safety of innocent people are in their hands.  He pointed down the road and said, "That direction is," there was a momentary pause as he found his bearings, "that direction is, that away."  So we went, that away.  He looked at me shrugged his shoulders and said, "Hey, I looked at the directions and they looked hard so I'm not exactly sure how this thing works yet."  Lucky for us the school was due, that away, from where we were.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Pride is a tricky thing.  We encourage our children to take pride in their work and then we warn of the downfall of being too prideful.  We brag on our kids and tell them how proud we are of them and then point out those that are too full of themselves.  It is a slippery slope.  Yet there are moments where you know you have achieved something that is at the pinnacle of its type.  I don't think Michelangelo after he finished the statue of David said, "Oh just slide it over in the corner some place."  And I'm pretty sure when he finished the Sistine Chapel he said the Italian equivalent of , "Get on some of that!"  So I was not at all surprised when a fourth grade boy proudly told me of an accomplishment that could not help but bring pride and respect in the rank and file of young men everywhere.  With a gleam in his eyes and pride in his voice he said, "Mr. Brandon, I just burped, farted, and sneezed all at the same time."

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Mr. Mucus was excitedly telling about a big event coming up.  A special dinner with his Boy Scout troop called the Blue and Gold dinner.  He described it as a dinner that family is invited to so the young men who have been in scouts that year can be honored.  He was quite excited.  He paused and then said, "Mr. Brandon, I would like for you to come.  I mean you are a big part of my life."  In my mind I thought yes Kindergarten, First Grade, First Grade again, because as he puts it he was not quite ready to move on, and now we are nearing the end of Second Grade.  One year alone, I had to clean up the bus over twenty times from him getting sick.  He has shared his imagination with me.  From him being a secret agent to conversations he has had with his wife over the phone.  He has shown me his awesome dance moves and given advice on how to drive the bus route.  Yes he has been a big part of my life also.  He then put his hand on my shoulder and said, "I mean, I love you like a brother, man."  There are some things that make you laugh and smile all at the same time.  Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones (Proverbs 16:24).

Thursday, April 3, 2014

"Weather Aware"

On a rather cloudy day the second grader entered the bus.  After the usual morning pleasantries he moved to his seat.  Before he sit down he opened his book bag and pulled something out.  In a moment he was sitting as any student should with the exception that he was now wearing a skate board helmet.  So I asked, "Hey, what's that all about?"  "Well, I read that in a tornado a skate board helmet can protect your head and I just want to be ready," he replied.  There was a quiet discussion between him and the other students around him.  I was sure it was about his dilligence in making others aware of the possibilities of weather safety.  Then with a puzzled look on his face he asked, "Mr. Brandon, what's a nit-wit?"  My reply, "Most of the people on this bus."

Monday, March 17, 2014


Mr. Mucus was talking about a trip he was going to take over the weekend.  He talked about where he would stay and most importantly where he would eat.  You could tell he was very excited.  The conversation was directed to those around him, especially his on again, off again girlfriend sitting behind him.  She spoke up and said, "It doesn't sound like a very fun trip to me."  Putting his hands on his hips he replied, "Well I'll have you to know that this trip is important to me and you should be happy for me."  The conversation escalated in volume so I stepped in with, "Both of you need to be happy and stop fussing."  "We are happy," he replied and continued, "This is what is called a RELATIONSHIP."  He paused for a few seconds and said, "I don't think you'll be invited to the Wedding."  Even though I was heartbroken, I tried to control my emotions and asked, "Why?"  He said, "Do you really want to see us kiss?"  You cannot argue with sound logic.  Count me as not invited.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


A small kindergarten boy stepped up beside me.  His eyes were as wide as they could be and still remain in the sockets.  His mouth hung open and he was pointing to his right.  I asked, "What do you want?"  He still seemed very excited, did not speak a word and continued motioning to his right.  So, I looked to his right.  There seated very quietly were three little girls.  You could not ask for three little girls to sit as still and quiet as they were.  Yet, there was something not quite right with the picture.  The little girl in the middle, though she was the picture of perfect posture, was sitting there without a shirt.  To be fair all of her older siblings are boys who run around the neighborhood without their shirts.  Taking into account the double standard I quietly said, "You need to put your shirt back on."  Looking at me with a big smile on her face she replied, "But it's hot on the bus."  I shook my head in agreement and continued, "I know but we need to put our shirt back on."  She countered with, "You know it takes longer to put a shirt on than it does to take one off."  Following that line of thought, I encouraged her to see how fast she could put a shirt on.  She obliged and we continued on down the road without incident.  All was well, except for the poor kindergarten boy who may have to see an optometrist.  When I let him off the bus he still seemed to have a rather wide eyed expression frozen to his face.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


The discussion started about how someone had not done what they were supposed to and that was bad.  Then it transitioned to general discussion of good things and bad things.  That lead to a discussion of Heaven and the Bad Place (the only way to refer to it in front of an adult).  This discussion expanded into what God was like and what the Devil was like.  Then it moved to who they wanted to see in Heaven.  They mentioned grandparents and other relatives.  There were celebrities thrown in and a mention of presidents, I thought good luck with that but kept it to myself.  Then a young man that I'm assuming was theologically challenged, who was eager to enter the conversation, spoke up and said, "Oh! My dad has a real hockey puck."  The conversation came to a halt as if it were checked by the opposing team.  I don't know if there is a connection between Heaven and hockey but I do know I have heard the other place referred to in terms of double hockey sticks.  I find it hard to believe there is a connection with the Bad Place; due to ice and temperature problems.

Monday, March 3, 2014

"In The Eye Of The Beholder"

The Twins Who Are Not Twins, boarded the bus.  They were excited and  were doing their best to get my attention, "Mr. Brandon, Mr. Brandon look, look."  Well I turned and looked toward their house where they were pointing expecting to see a modern wonder of the world.  A quick survey of the house and grounds left me puzzled about all the excitement.  "Look at what?" I said.  "Our daddy's new antique truck," they said in unison.  Well, I took a second glance and sure enough there was a new truck sitting in the driveway.  "Its an antique" they repeated.  It appeared to be a fairly new model truck.  Having driven the same truck since 1988, I know old and this was not it.  "That's an antique?" I questioned.  "Yes," they started in a very excited voice. "There are these handles with little knobs on them on the door and when you turn them the window will go down and if you turn it the other way the window goes back up."  You would not believe their excitement about such a relic of the past.  Wait till they find out that you also have to turn a knob to find a radio station.


Knowing your riders you also know the ones that have pets.  They talk about their dogs, cats, hamsters, lizards, snakes, goldfish and a menagerie of other animals.  They cry and tell you when they have lost their friend and excitedly tell you about the arrivial of a new friend.  You get to see bites from puppies and scratches  from kittens.  Those who have hamsters sometimes get on the bus smelling like cedar bedding.  There are the dogs and a few cats that follow children to the bus to watch them board and from time to time I have to tell a sad puppy dog face (literally) that no they can not get on the bus too.  There is one neighborhood dog that we count on each day to get up as we pass his house, he stretches and starts walking up the road.  As we circle through the neighborhood we always find him in the same yard down the road doing his business and laying back down.  In the afternoons there's a little black and white pup that can be found just about anywhere in the neighborhood waiting for a child any child to get off the bus and he chases after them with his tail wagging so furiously that he can hardly keep his balance.  His enthusiasm was not appreciated by a four year old.  As he rounded the corner of her house she let out a scream only reserved for a horror movie and made a mad dash all the way back to the bus, though she was only three feet from her front door.  As with most tender hearted children they are always concerned when something is wrong with their pet. "Mr. Brandon," a kindergartner started one morning, "I'm sure glad we got our cat fixed yesterday."  I couldn't help myself and asked, "Was he broken?" "I guess so," she replied. "He kept howling all night and would only quit when you threw a shoe at him."

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

"Tour Bus"

There was a loud "ONE", followed by a click, then "TWO", click.  From the voice I knew exactly where to look.  Looking in the mirror I spied the snowman shaped second grader with his little round face and round body.  His face was as red as his hair and he held a pencil in each hand over his head.  It continued, "THREE" and he clicked the pencils together.  With the shout of "FOUR" and a clicking of the pencils the hands came down and a drum solo started on the back of that seat that would have made any rock drummer envious.  A few more strokes of those magic pencils and he yelled out, "Gentlemen, I believe we have found ourselves a DRUMMER!"  Waiting for the finale, that all great drummers are known for, I held my breath and was not disappointed.  The energy and beat came to a crescendo, he threw up his hands, a pencil sailed to the back of the bus, and with hands still in the air he screamed out, "WE LOVE YOU WORLD PEACE".  A wipe of the forehead and all was quiet.  In my mind I already see his smiling face on the cover of "Rolling Stone". I'm going to get five copies for my..............  Go ahead and sing it, I was.  

Friday, February 7, 2014

"Just The Facts"

I was informed by second grader that school rules were boring.  This was not just a random statement it was based on these facts that he and I established after I heard the student sitting next to him say, "Hey! What was that for?"  1. If anyone in his family is acting crazy you are allowed to slap them in the face.  I'm assuming that it's the old bring them back to reality slap.  2. The student riding in the seat with you may be acting crazy but is not in your family.  Therefore you are not allowed to slap them.  Not being able to slap an unrelated person back to reality was what made school rules boring.  The slapping of crazy acting family members must not be a strictly enforced rule at his house, or this kid would have red cheeks on a daily bases.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

"Your Order Please"

A second grader boarded the bus with what appeared to be a small cloth pocket type apron that a carpenter puts nails in while he works.  I would call it a nail apron but I have seen them used in a number of other ways unrelated to carpentry.  Before he was seated he asked if I would help him tie it on.  I pulled the bow tight in the back expecting a Bob the Builder moment.  He turned to face me, pulled out a piece of paper, a pen and asked, "Can I take your order Sir?"  I asked him to be seated and being a little hungry gave him my order.  "Two eggs over easy, hash browns, biscuits and gravy, and country ham," I said.  He read it back to me, had the eggs wrong but made the correction, then he turned to a fourth grader seated across from him and yelled, "Order up" and handed him the paper.  The fourth grader looked at me a little confused, shrugged his shoulders, waited a few seconds and yelled back, "Ok, pick up".  I must admit service was fast and friendly.  By this time he was taking the orders of the two young ladies behind him.  One ordered a sausage biscuit and the other one said she was on a diet and wanted a blue berry muffin.  Over all it was a good dining experience.  I would give it three and a half stars.  My only complaint was he told me about the special they were having on oatmeal after he turned in my order.  But he wasn't sure if they had any left because a man last night had ordered one thousand bowls of oatmeal and a piece fo sausage.  I stayed with my original order.

Friday, January 31, 2014

"Full Day"

Mr. Mucus, in a very excited voice, explained to me that he and his friends were having a town hall meeting.  Of course, I had to ask why?  They were going to talk about capturing a Big Foot.  He then explained that he had a team of four people.  He was the muscle, one was a wrestler, one was the smart one, and the girl was part of the team because she was pretty.  Then he pulled out a map of Madison County and started looking for Alaska.  Which explains why he is the muscle.  At this point the Twins Who Are Not Twins joined in and said that Big Foot liked peanut butter.  A fact I was unaware of.  He then informed them that he and his friends were going to try canned meat first.  Makes sense, who doesn't like spam?  They continued with their plans when a fourth grader messed everything up by telling them that he had heard on the news that Big Foot had moved to North Carolina.  With this project at a standstill they moved on to the next project on the agenda.  Mr. Mucus pulled a pad of entry forms out of his book bag.  The ones like you see at a contest box.  He pulled one off, turned it over, and to my great pleasure wrote me a check for ten thousand dollars.  He then started pulling them off and passing them out to some of his fellow riders telling them to sign up for his new club.  There were three stipulations: 1. You had to be a boy. 2. You had to be smart. 3. You have to have cute hair.  They hurriedly filled out their forms asking me for zip codes and what e-mail meant.  Then there was a discussion about where they lived, was it a city or a community?  They got rather excited when several of them discovered that they were not only in the same grade but had been born in the same year!  Who would have believed it?  Then as in most things it all started to fall apart when they started discussing the hierarchy in the club.  It was generally agreed that the person with the entry form pad should be the First Captain but there was turmoil in the ranks when deciding who would be Second Captain and Third Captain.  At this point we were at school and the discussion broke up.  I didn't have the heart to tell them that most of their applications where going to be rejected due to the strict requirements of the club.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


A bus driver can tell you the number of miles driven within a few yards without ever looking at the odometer.  Bus drivers also have an auditory odometer.  A chart with converted unites is found in all bus driver handbooks.

He touched or hit me. = one quarter of a mile

I've got to go pee pee. = one half mile

Are we almost to my house? = one mile

Therefore 1 1/2 miles = 6 he touched me or 2 pee pees and 2 he touched me or 1 are we almost to my house and 1 pee pee.  There are quite a number of combinations.  Parents with small children have a version of this chart.  Oh, there are also metric units such as:  Hey, we need some air freshener back here. = 1 Kilometer

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

"Choose Your Bug"

The third grade girl sat across the aisle from a second grade boy.  It wasn't long before a conversation started about what they did over the weekend.  She started with the usual, "What did you do over the weekend?"  "Not much," he replied, "I was sick most of the weekend and didn't even go outside."  "Me too!" she responded and then continued "I went to the bathroom so many times that my bottom hurts today."  He chimed in with, "My bottom hurts too and I threw up this yellow stuff most of the day Saturday."  The conversation continued, with details including amounts and colors.  At one point in the conversation they both agreed they were hungry because they hadn't eaten much over the weekend.  Now if you know anything about lasting relationships it's the things that we share and have in common that bring us together.  So that is why after a discussion comparing bodily fluids the next logical thing to happen was this.  She said, "Wouldn't it be great if we could go somewhere some time and eat together?"  Years and years from now they will be able to tell their children how they were brought together by the Love Stomach Bug.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"Hey Partner"

With the bitter cold the students have been coming to the bus all bundled up from head to toe, with multiple layers on.  You know, where they can't put their arms down to their sides and it would be easier to role if you fell down than it would be to get up.  As a second grader ran or waddled, because of all the clothes, to the bus his head gear seemed to be out of place.  I had seen plenty of boggins, scarfs, and ear muffs from normal to animal shaped, but he was wearing what resembled a red felt cowboy hat.  Its appearance can only be described as looking like a paper wad that has been unfolded and waded back up a number of times.  As he came up the steps I said, "Good morning cowboy Bob."  He snatched off his hat in typical western fashion and said, "Yee haw, partner.  I smell like sweat."  He also said he smelled like something else associated with those that work closely with cattle that I will not mention.  I asked if he had been out working the cattle and he said he had and repeated what he smelled like.  Before he got off the bus he had a concern.  He put the crumpled hat that barely resembled a cowboy hat on the dash of the bus and asked if he could leave it there because he didn't want the other kids to mess it up.  Cowboys love their hats.