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 17, 2015

“Time to Shine”

Every dog has his day, everyone gets their 15 minutes of fame.  If you are red headed, freckled faced, have a perpetual smile and are considered by some to be “slightly” overweight when do you come into your full glory?  When are you greeted like a hero? The week before Christmas break and you come to the bus with your big smile wearing a Santa hat.  As you enter the bus all eyes turn to you and you say, “Ho, Ho, Ho!” of course.  As you walk down the aisle little children pat your belly and say, “Santa, Santa”.  You sit down knowing it doesn’t get much better than this.  After Mr. Mucus, I mean Santa, was seated there were a few rounds of Rudolph sang than they moved onto Jingle Bells.  The sing-a-long came to a close when Santa asked, “Mr. Brandon, do you know the real meaning of Christmas?”  There was a gentle quietness that fell across the bus like a Hallmark special on TV.  “Yes, I do know the real meaning of Christmas” I replied.  Each student anticipated in silence for the sharing of the real meaning of Christmas.  Then in a soft loving voice I said, “The true meaning of Christmas is to buy your bus driver a really, really nice present.”  The riot that occurred could not be described as Peace on earth good will toward men.  As the violence subsided someone finally ask, “Well then Mr. Brandon what do you want for Christmas?”  My reply of, “To throw all of you off the bus and live happily ever after,” was not very well received.  From Mr. Brandon’s School Bus Merry Christmas.

P.S.  When you have over 60 elementary students on your bus do you know how many elf on the shelf stories you have to listen to?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Random Thoughts of a Bus Driver "Priorities"

     Have you ever told your spouse that there was just not any money in the house hold budget for an item that they were considering and turned around and bought something yourself that was even more expensive?  How did that work out for you?  No matter how you try to justify your reasoning it all comes out the same, “If there wasn’t enough for one item then there defiantly wasn’t enough for a more expensive item”.  Recently eighty million dollars yes that is an eight with seven zeros, was moved from the Alabama Education Trust Fund into the General Fund.  The reasoning being, whether you believe the figures or not, that the Trust Fund had a surplus of one hundred forty million dollars and the General Fund was going to come up short.  At the same time it is reported that from 2008-2014 Alabama cut funding to schools by 17.3%, the second highest in the nation.  As a teacher in the state of Alabama I have received one, yes that’s a one with no zeros, state mandated raise since 2007.  That raise was a staggering 2%.  In that same amount of time the cost of living has increased by over 10%.  If you have been in education for any length of time you have found that you are at the top of the pay scale and if my math is correct I now make 8% less than I did ten years ago.  I do not profess to understand the entire goings on in Montgomery, I’m not sure even those that work there do, but I have missed something somewhere.  If you have a surplus large enough to bail out the general fund than why am I making 8% less this year than I did eight years ago and no real promise of a raise in the future.  Don’t tell me that there is not money in the budget.  If this works I’m going to let Montgomery explain to my wife why I was able to buy that new shotgun and we couldn’t get the living room furniture.  I was recently reminded of a phrase that is found in the ethics laws that govern what a state employee is allowed to except from outside sources.  Teachers being a state employee are also bound by this law.  The phrase used is “de minimis value”.  The definition given for this phrase is “something so small that accounting for it would be unreasonable”.  I understand the reason for having ethic laws but I’m sure they were not put in place because someone was concerned that a kindergartner may bring undue influence on his teacher for a grade of satisfactory in hand writing.  Yet this phrase has also sums up how those in positions of power and sometimes the general public have come to view those who work in education “something so small that accounting for it would be unreasonable”.  We talk about how children are our most valuable resource.  Teachers have been in hundreds of conversation that end with “You couldn’t pay me enough to do your job”.  We hold those who work in education to a much higher standard than the general public.  As an example let a teacher get cross way with the law and when it is reported on the news they will say how they are a part of education, what role they played, and what school they worked at.  I have never heard a news cast of a robbery where they said, “The robber has been a part of the plumbing work for most of his life and worked at Joe’s Plumbing”.  I’m not saying those in education should not be held to a higher accountability.  I am saying along with higher accountability there should also be the respect and yes salary that comes with being held to such.  Yes it is a rewarding job, yes I love working with students, and yes I count myself blessed to be in education but none of these will buy my groceries or pay my mortgage.  Many reports now show that teachers are now leaving the profession faster than they are entering.  I am not asking to be a rich man; I would be willing to scrape by on the paltry salary of a Montgomery politician.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Random Thoughts of a Bus Driver "World Peace"

We live in an amazing world!  Though I do not consider myself to be old, I have had the privilege to have been around a number of years.  In those years I have seen many amazing changes.  I have seen the day when the best thing you could purchase for your child’s education was a set of encyclopedias that took up substantial amount of space, now we just Google it.  I have watched all three channels on a black and white TV serving as my father’s remote control, now you can miss an hour long program that you wanted to watch on your 72 inch high definition television, because it took so long to go through the nine hundred channels that are available.  As a teacher I have gone home with my hands covered with chalk dust and purple ink from mimeographed papers, to having a printer right in my room and an interactive board that is attached to my computer that will electronically write in any color of my choosing.  As a bus driver I have driven buses that were manual shift, exposed metal bars around the thinly padded seat, and were cold and rattled as you went down the road.  Now my bus has an automatic transmission, air shocks, tented windows, heater and air conditioning front and back, radio, and CD player.  I don’t even have to reach over to open the door for students; I have an air operated door that is activated with a button on the steering wheel.  I wax nostalgic.  This past week I was introduce to what has to be the greatest advancement in the history of the world.  I have in my life visited a number of outhouses.  Many of you know what I speak of.  I have visited one and two holers whose seats were hopefully worn smooth over the years by use so I would not get a splinter.  It was always questionable what you would find in them to “clean” yourself with after the job was finished.  I once used toilet paper in Russia that I believe I got a paper cut from.  My daughter and 5 month old grandson often stay with us during the work week.  With a baby in the house there are numerous diaper changes and with that came the flushable, moist wipes.  That alone should have some recognition.  Then my daughter brought in a device that I believe given time and the right amount of consideration could possible change the course of the world.  It is the right size to hold a package of wipes and then, be still my beating heart, you plug it in and it warms, yes warms the wipes.  Not only are they moist, for a better job, but WARM.  Oh! What a blessed invention to be introduced to in the chilly month of December.  With one of these in every world leaders bathroom how could you not come out with a good feeling toward all mankind.  Forgive me Leonardo da Vinci, move over Thomas Edison, why has this not made world headlines?  I have never been one to spend a lot of time in the royal chamber but in the future if my family needs me I can tell them where to look first.  Who knows I may have decided what room to move the set of encyclopedias to. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

“Disco on the Bus”

After a few minutes on the bus your friend and mine, Mr. Mucus, pulled his head into his jacket and zipped it up so his head was inside.  In a few moments he started yelling, “Go, go, run.”  The other students around him asked what he was doing.  He informed them that he was watching a ball game on his big screen TV.  He continued to yell for his team until the game was over.  At this point there was a pause and then he said, “All right,” and start moving around in the seat in a circular motion.  He must have been aware of the questioning eyes that were now looking at him and he replied from inside, “I’ve turned on the disco ball in the dance room.”  He gyrated around a number of times the movements getting larger and larger until he hit his head a good lick on the seat in front of him.  He fell back in the seat, knowing that we were concerned a voice from inside called out, “I’m not dead.”  Then it was followed by, “I think I’ll go back to watching television.”

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

"Choosing A Side"

There have been and continue to be great debates throughout the years.  Hercules, hero of the ancient world or bully with a lack of tolerance for creatures who only want to practice their traditions of destroying towns and people?  Climate change, real threat or Governmental hoax?  Bacon, bad for your health or the true joy of life?  Dogs, man's best friend or one of the world's biggest free loaders, only surpassed by cats?  Dorothy, misplaced good hearted youth or unwanted Kansas refugee causing havoc in Oz?  At this time of year we come to the biggest debate that can be had on a bus full of elementary students in the month of December.  It comes up each year and you know the bus driver is always called in to arbitrate the discussion.  Feelings are hurt, tears are shed, voices are raised, and from time to time blows are exchanged.  Each year I know I will hear, "Mr. Brandon, is Santa Claus real?"  I try to moderate and let each side have its say so.  In the end all discussion must be brought to a close.  I let them know that they are free to believe what they want but as for me, I believe, because I don't want to take the chance of having nothing on Christmas morning.  There are many things in this life that I don't believe in; A politician's promise, that you can have healthy and tasty, a lawyer who says he only wants to help, or when your wife says you don't have to get her a present this year.  But I do believe in the sparkle in the eyes of a child when he talks about Santa coming to town.  When students take the time to sing Christmas songs together on the bus and the bus driver knows when every Christmas tree on their route went up because they were told in high pitched excited voices. I hope your life is filled with high pitched excited voices.  I hope that sometimes that voice is yours.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

"Halloween's Full Moon"

One of the memorable and often quoted lines from The Godfather is spoken by Peter Clemenza after the revenge killing of Paulie Gatto.  Clemenza instructs Rocco Lampone, "Leave the gun, take the cannoli".  It's all about taking care of business and keeping your priorities straight.  All of us have heard countless lectures, sermons, and talks about keeping one's priorities straight.  By taking care of the important task first and not letting ourselves be side tracked by the trivial, we become more productive and successful.  A kindergartner was struggling as he came up the aisle.  It was the Friday before Halloween and his hands were full.  In one hand he held on to his book bag that was bulging with all the necessities of a day in kindergarten.  In the other hand he held the haul of candy from the class party and the special treats that had been so lovingly made by his teacher.  This alone was proving to be a daunting task but as he prepared to leave the bus another problem was making itself known.  His pants, ever so slightly, were creeping down.  Like most little kindergarten boys there was not much in the behind area to help keep them up and he was not wearing a belt.  He tried dragging his wrist across the waist of his pants, hoping they would somehow stick to his wrist and he would be able to pull them up.  No go, so he took a step down, the pants crept down.  Another step and continued slide.  He did a hula motion on the bottom step to try and impede his pants decent.  It was to no avail, as his feet hit the ground so did his pants and there before me was the full Halloween moon.  He was appropriately dressed with little orange pumpkins on his drawers.  He looked down, pants at his ankles, he looked to his right hand full of book bag that he dare not put down, he looked at his left hand with a bag full of candy.  The young man has a bright future in front of him with his priorities firmly in place.  He hung on to what was important and waddled to the house with his pants around his ankles.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

"Stick To It"

A young man on the bus told me of the endeavors of a kindergarten student that was seated behind him.   I listened but I must admit there was serious doubt in my mind if the kindergartner was really up to the task that he was trying to accomplish.  I looked in the mirror and tried to locate the busy young man.  There seemed to be a lot of activity coming from his seat.  As we pulled up to the kindergartner's home he walked up the aisle proudly showing the results of his endeavors.  Much to my surprise he had accomplished exactly what had been reported to me that he was trying to do.  Thomas Edison was reported to have said, "The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are: Hard work, Stick-to-itiveness, and Common sense."  Yes, the young man walked up the aisle with an eraser securely glued to his forehead.  I believe he truly embodied two of the essentials that Edison had espoused.  I'll let you decide which one he was missing. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

"Just Kids"

Upon hearing Mr. Mucus give out a loud, "Good Job" I looked in the mirror to see who he was encouraging.  Mr. Mucus is not only a glass half full kind of kid but it's half full of chocolate milk kind of kid.  I found him patiently giving spanish lessons to the students in the seat across the aisle from him.  He started with the basics, "How do you say, yes?"  They replied, "Si".  "Correct" he said.  Then he asked how to say water.  They responded correctly with "Agua".  At this point he was so excited about the progress that they were making that he yelled out, "Super" followed by a series of high fives.  He then noticed me looking in the mirror and said, "Mr. Brandon, I'm helping these guys with their Spanish and they are doing GREAT!"  I gave him a thumbs up and he returned the gesture.  The Spanish lessons continued with colors and numbers with his students responding correctly each time.  You could tell how proud he was of their great progress.  I decided this was not the time to tell him that they were new to our school and had move here from a Latin American country and that Spanish was their primary language.  It also occurred to me that he did not see them as Latino or foreign.  He just saw them as kids no different from himself. Their hair, eyes, and skin were all darker than his but they were just kids.  Another lesson learned from my teacher Mr. Mucus.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

"Radio For Help?"

For all my bus driving friends and those who have had to deal with radio traffic.

Bus: 8-12 to school, 8-12 to school..............
        8-12 to school, 8-12 to school..............
        8-12 to school, 8-12 to school..............
        8-12 to school, 8-12 to school..............

School: 8-12 are you trying to get in touch with us?

Bus: Yes, I have a little boy named John Jackson on my bus and there is no one home.  Would you call and find out what I should do with him?

School: You have a boy named Jack and you don't know what to do with him?

Bus #2: You'll be careful there's been a wreck.

School: You've been in a wreck?

Bus: No, I haven't been in a wreck. I have a boy named Jackson and I need you to call and find out where he needs to go because no one is home.

School: Just a minute............ Yes, we tried calling and no one is home.

Bus: Yes, I know there is no one home.

School: Then why is he on your bus?

Bus #3: This is 8-02 I don't have a Jackson on my bus.

School: I thought you said you had a boy named Jack on your bus?

Bus: This is 8-12 I don't have a boy named Jack I have a boy named John.

School: How did he get on your bus if he was supposed to be on 8-02?

Bus: He doesn't ride 8-02, he usually rides my bus but today there is no one home.

School: Ok, he is on your bus but you need to bring him back to school because there is no one at home.

Bus: Ok, I'll bring John Jackson back to school.

School: What? John Jackson, I thought you said Jack Johnson. Give me a second to call and see if anyone is at home.

Bus #2: This is Mr. Jackson I've been busy getting around this wreck, I don't have a boy named John on my bus.

School: 8-12 there is no one at home but they said if you could just bring their son back by at the end of your route there will be some one home by then.

Bus: Sure no problem.

Friday, October 2, 2015

“It’s Everywhere”

There are some things that only register on the ends of the spectrum without appearing in the middle.  Sea food is either good or bad.  You either love opera or love to make fun of those who do.  Thus it is with little, red headed, freckled faced boys who are missing several front teeth.  They are either so nice and cute that you could just rub that ginger head and pinch those freckled cheeks or they are so rotten, still cute, that you wouldn’t leave them in a room with an attack dog for fear of what would happen to the dog (don’t be politically correct you know that kid).  Such a young man was seated in the first seat as we made our way down the road.  He jabbered and talked to those around him, popped up and down like a ground hog and tried to take in the surroundings as we traveled along.  Student after student left the bus till the number of students on the bus was down to an amount that was manageable by a preschooler, so he started counting, "One, two, three, four and one driver that makes five people on the bus."  As I approached the next house the teacher in me decided to grab that teachable moment and I said as the student stepped off, "Five minus one is .......?" He looked around took his preschool count and said, "Four!" His older sister, a much wiser kindergartner said, "That's right!"  With wide eyes he threw his hands in the air and said, "I'm learrrrrnnnning!"  It’s everywhere, in classrooms, libraries, offices, and even in the front seat of a school bus going down a country road.  Learrrrrnnnnnning it’s all around us.  So channel that red headed, freckled faced, missing teeth grin kind of spirit and dive in.  End the day richeeeeerrrrrr than when you started.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

"Pass the Kleenex"

Threes, you know how we say bad things always happen in threes.  There were three kindergartners in seat three, two girls and one boy.  Event number one: Kindergarten boy kisses kindergarten girl next to him while they hide behind the seat.  Got a little sugar from a cute girl, how can that be bad?  Both girls rat him out.  He starts to cry.  Event number two:  The kisser now calls the kissie a ugly name and she starts to cry.  Event number three:  The kissless feeling left out and lonely now ask the boy, in the seat in front of her, if he will come over to her house.  He says, "No!"  She now cries.  Kleenex to seat three.  It was a weepy kind of afternoon.  We've all been there.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


A small inquisitive voice asked, “Mr. Brandon what are those for?”  I glanced over my left shoulder to see the eyes and nose of a young man struggling to see over the partition between us. I asked him what he wanted and he repeated, “What are those for?” “What things do you mean?” I asked.  “All those buttons and knobs by you,” he said.  He indicated the switches that were next to me.  So I told him how they worked the heaters, air conditioners, and other devices on the bus.  The feature that out did them all was the lever that allowed me to move the steering wheel up and down.  He got off the bus in a state of wonder.  The next day he was behind me again but this day he was the teacher, passing on the knowledge that he had gained the day before.  He explained to a little girl, who looked on with fascination, each of the switches and what they did.  He saved the best till last and said, “Mr. Brandon show her what that lever does.”  So I pulled on it and raised the wheel up and then back down.  Then he finished his instructional talk with, “Isn’t my bus wonderful?”  Make your day better and go through it with the wonder and fascination of a four year old.  Look with wonder, at the switches there are to flick, knobs to turn, and levers to pull.  Ask, how do birds find their way home, why do cats purr and babies coo, how can the touch of someone’s hand make you feel warm inside and a kiss from a child on your cheek can almost make you cry?  Don’t overlook the wonder of the smallest detail, take nothing for granted.  Then say, “Isn’t my world wonderful.”

Thursday, September 3, 2015

"Southern Advantages"

The advantages of driving a bus in the rural south:

10. You don’t have to drive on snow. Schools are dismissed due to flurries.

 9.  A cotton field can make a picturesque turn around spot.

 8.  Samples of homemade jerky from your riders.

 7.  Wal-Mart on Friday night allows you to speak to any parents you need to talk to.

 6.  Wild turkeys crossing the road can give you some time for peaceful reflection.

 5.  The only argument about fashion is which camo pattern is better.

 4.  No matter how many students you have on your bus, it can all be narrowed down to one or two families.

 3.  Students that can give suggestions on how to get rid of varmints, four legged or two.

 2.  Being able to talk about hunting with a 3rd grader who shows you a picture of the buck she shot that morning, while standing on her back porch.

 1.  You can yell, “Bubba, stop that!” and half of the students on the bus will stop what they’re   doing.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


What do you hold as the most valuable and what are the things in your life that are disposable?  Those things that we hold the most dear are the things that we put time and effort into.  We fight to the last second holding on with all our might.  If it needs mending we mend it, if it needs time we take the time.  Those things that we consider disposable we do not give a second thought.  It’s out with the old and in with the new.  No time wasted on what can be easily replaced.  One young man asked another young man why a particular student had not boarded the bus.  He said, "His father got made at his mother last night and left and is not coming back.  So they have moved in with a friend."  I'm now curious about the conversation that is sure to follow.  I'm wondering how they will deal with one of their friends losing a parent from the home.  I can't help but consider how I would feel if my father would have left our family.  Then they discussed what was on their minds.  This was the response, "I wonder if he took the Play Station with him?"  Now I know there are all kind of people out there who are in situations that they have not asked for and they were given no other choice.  But I see families that have dads, stepdads, moms, step-moms, boyfriends, girlfriends and they come and go through a revolving door.  Students who never know where they are going to get off or who will be there when they do.  So many have given so little to what should be the most important thing in their life.  They believe that their life is their own to do with as they please regardless of those who are around them.  The only commitment that they have is to self and everything else has become disposable.  Parents guess what, you have become disposable too.  You now rank below the Play Station.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

"The Conductor"

The many facetted, multitalented Mr. Mucus pulled from his book-bag an old antenna. The type not seen much anymore, the ones that extent when pulled out.  He took hold of the end of the antenna and with the attention of those around him and with great flourish he extended it to its full length.  Now that all eyes were focused on him he lightly tapped it on the back of the seat and stated, "This boys is a baton for conducting an orchestra.  It takes a lot of training to know how to use it right.  Now when I raise it like this you need to clap your hands together."  At this point he tapped the seat once more raised his baton and started making sweeping motions in the air.  Much to his delight the boys across from him started clapping their hands together.  At first they were not in time with each other but as the Conductor continued to conduct it started coming together.  After a few minutes he lowered his baton and the clapping stopped.  "Boys," he said, "now you are starting to understand music.  Now let's add in some foot stomping."  So as he started molding the music as a skilled conductor, foot stomping was added into the mix.  After a few minutes it came out the only way that foot stomping and hand clapping can come out, even to six and seven year olds and someone add the lyrics "We will, we will rock you"  It had to happen.  So the last few miles to school were to the rhythm of "We will rock you".  Before I opened the door at school I felt compelled to help get the foot stomp and hand clap into the correct rhythm.  Then much to the surprise of the riders I added a little,

"Buddy you're a boy make a big noise

Playin' in the street gonna be a big man some day

You got mud on yo' face

You big disgrace

Kickin' your can all over the place


We will we will rock you

We will we will rock you"


Yes, now I'm not just another pretty face, I rock too.

Monday, August 24, 2015

"The Code"

Monday mornings, you know and I know what the very idea of Monday mornings invokes.  To bus drivers it means, “The Monday Morning Finger”.  You pull up in front of a house on Monday morning and everyone is running late because of the exhausting weekend.  The weekend where we were supposed to relax and get away from work only to run ourselves silly trying to do all the things we could not get done during the week.  So again, everyone is late except the bus driver who is punctual, regardless of what the parents say.  The driver pulls up and stops, there is no sign of life and the driver prepares to pull away.  Just as the bus is about to leave, the door to the house opens slightly an arm protrudes through the opening, and sticks one finger up to the sky to be interpreted as, “Just one more minute”.  Often the arm may go up and down like the needle on a sewing machine adding time as if putting quarters in a parking meter.  The size of the opening and how the arm is clad can also tell you how Mom is attired and how far behind she is on her morning dressing ritual.  A small opening and a bare arm can be a dangerous thing when the child is finally ready and yanks the door wide open to an unprepared, scantily dressed mom.  Many a bus driver knows the mothers on the route better than they would like to.  Parents believe that somewhere in the bus driver’s code there is a rule that states: All bus drivers are under obligation to remain in front of a house as long as a parent holds up a finger.  Breaking of this code of conduct often results in a hand gesture that is far more inappropriate than the first.

Friday, August 21, 2015


She stepped out into the aisle as we were going down the road with a wide smile on her face and started making her way to the front with a bouncy little step.  I recognized her immediately she was wearing a Batman shirt that she has a fondness for.  Knowing how unsafe it was for her to be walking down the aisle of a moving bus I decided to address the situation.  I said, “Batman, you need to sit down.”  I know, I referred to her as Batman but I have referred to her as Batgirl in the past and was quickly put straight on the matter, lesson learned.  I tried again this time with a little more parental tone in the voice, “Batman, you need to sit down.”  She was not deterred but the smile had now turned to a frown.  So I pulled out all stops and referred to her by her real name and said, “You need to sit down.”  Now, not only was the smile gone but her little head hung down.  At this point she was now by my side.  Knowing I had lost the battle I asked, “What do you need?”  She raised her head, looked at me with those big dark eyes and said, “But, I just wanted to tell you that I love you Mr. Brandon.”  I replied, “I love you too baby but you need to stay sit down.”  With a look that was far from happy or understanding she made her way back to her seat.  Women! How do they do that, I truly believe it is genetic.  They can all do it.  She had executed it perfectly.  1. She had gotten her way no matter the obstacles.  2. Though I knew with every fiber in my body I was right and every safety manual ever written would say that I was right, I, yes I, now felt like a heel.
3. She would be over it in just a few minutes and I would feel bad about being right the rest of the day.  There is not a man born that has not been the recipient of the cunning behavior of a female.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

"First Responder"

The ear piercing scream came as I stood at the bus door.  It was the kind of scream that causes the hair to stand up on the back of your neck.  Causing people of weak fiber to crumble and even those who are strong hesitate before going into the fray.  Finding the strength that comes with a surge of adrenaline cause by urgency, I turned and made a quick assessment of materials needed for what must be a near death injury.  There was the first aid kit, the body fluids clean up kit for the blood I was sure must be flowing freely, and if necessary I had not left campus yet so I had access to the school nurse.  I step toward the sound that now was a wailing that could only be made stronger by an Irish durge.  I looked into her little round face and tears of a size I had never seen before were rolling down her cheeks, at a rate that had left her whole face wet.  I looked for the missing limb that I was sure had been severed in some horrific accident.  I could find neither blood nor wound.  Knowing if I could not see it then it must be internal. It must be excruciating because the wailing had now turn to sobs that made it difficult for her to breath.  I tried to stay calm for her, knowing if I showed worry it may lead her to think the worst.  I took a breath, worried about the answer and asked, "What's the matter?"  I knew it had to be bad because it took a little time for her get to a state that she could communicate with me clearly.  Finally she was able to say between sobs, "I......... I left my library book in the room."  So in my kindest, understanding voice I replied, "Knock it off all ready."

Sunday, August 9, 2015

"Run It's A Trap"

Mother and child approached the large yellow symbol of education that had stopped in front of their house.  His excited, unsuspecting, little smile was visible even though they were still a distance away.  He knew this had to be a great adventure for she had lead him on so many.  His whole world stood beside him and she held his hand.  His new lunch box was swinging in his free hand and they were walking at a good pace.  As they neared the large, yellow, unfamiliar conveyance the doors swung open.  They opened as if they were the mouth to a giant yellow creature that is only found in the dreams of little innocent children.  At this point the stride of his steps decreased and the smile had started to diminish.  Mother and disillusioned child stopped at the cavernous mouth of the yellow monster and an unfamiliar voice now came from its depths.  It said, "Good morning".  His mother had always told him to stay away from strangers and not to talk to people he didn't know and yet here she was offering him up without any regard for his personal feelings on the matter.  He acted instinctively and slid behind his mother's legs.  She pulled him back around in front only to have him retreat once more to the rear.  Mother pulled him around once again and nudged him forward.  His feet did not move but remained firmly planted as if glued to the pavement.  Feeling himself being lifted by his mother he went lifeless into a pile.  Mother now struggled with the dead weight of an unwilling child.  Then with the strength of a woman that had not had one day alone since his birth she envisioned what an uninterrupted visit to the bathroom would be like and with the strength of Hercules she lifted him to the first step.  He would not willingly go into the beast so she lifted him to the next step.  There was no action on his part he would resist to the end.  The voice from inside of the bus encouraged the mother, "One more and I'll take care of the rest," and he accented it with a smile.  She stepped into the jaws of the yellow monster herself encouraged by the thought she may have a lunch that did not involve chicken nuggets or peanut butter.  She placed him on the top step, quickly moved back, and her arm was barely out of the way when the jaws of the yellow beast closed.  He turned, looked at his retreating mother and with a feeble hand reached out but it was to late.  He bravely turned to face the man he had never seen before and without a tear or trimmer he stood.  The man pointed to an empty seat.  He gave in to what must be and was seated.  Education would have it's way.  Early the next morning the yellow monster pulled in front of his house once again.  His steps were fast and he rushed willingly into the open mouth of the beast with a smile on his face.  Someone had done their job and had convinced this young child that school was actually fun and that, would change his whole word.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

“They All Look Alike To Me”

The first week of school comes with red sleepy eyes from getting up early again.  There are tears from those that are frightened because it’s all new or from those that do not want to come back.  The thoughts of “Will the children like me or will they make fun of me and the way I dress.”  All of that is found, in the faculty and staff, the kids for the most part do great.  For the students there are bits of rusty information that have not been used over the summer and now need to be recalled.  As the students were lined up to board the bus after the first day of classes I looked into a face that was familiar but only as a student not as someone that had ridden my bus.  Placing a hand on his little third grade shoulder I said, “Hold on there partner where do you live?”  There was a puzzled look so I rephrased, “What’s your address?”  One eye closed, the nose wrinkled, eyebrows down and you could hear the cogs turning.  He looked at me, “Well,” he started, “I never got around to learning that.”  So knowing we have the same drivers as last year and the same routes I try again.  “Who was your bus driver last year?  Oh, his face lit up and I knew we had hit a home run.  With a smile of confidence he said, “You were!”  Strike two.  “Do you know the road you live on?” I said with a sigh.  “Well I’m not real sure,” he said.  Strike three.  Though he should have been out I walked him…….. to the next bus and asked the driver, who looks nothing like me, and asked him if he recognized the little face.  “Sure,” he said, “he rode my bus all last year.”  You know buses and bus drivers, they all look alike.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

"When the Door Closes"

I am very much a glass half empty kind of person to say otherwise would draw a rebuttal article from my wife.  My wife on the other hand is very much a glass half full kind of person.  She has high hope for me even after all these years, which shows a great deal of patience on her behalf.  I have tried to learn from her example in finding the best in all things though it takes some deep searching some times. With the end of the school year comes a reminiscence of how the year has gone.  I have been blessed to be associated with a great variety of students and as they leave the bus for the last time this school year I try to say thank you.  There is the child that steps off the bus and as you close the door you say, “Thank you Lord for they have been a true joy and blessing and have enriched my life this year.”  There is the child that steps off the bus and as you close the door you say, “Thank you Lord for having given me the opportunity to help guide this young child to a path more productive and in turn helping me develop my patience.”  Then there is the child that steps off the bus and you say, “Thank you Lord that this door is hydraulic and closes so quickly.”

Monday, May 11, 2015

"Sub Needed"

You have looked for your glasses while they were on your head.  You have looked for your cell phone while holding it in your hand.  Often someone else must point out to us what should be obvious.  There was a commotion in the back of the bus and I responded in a reasonable way or so it seemed to me, by asking the poor misguided student to suspend the undesirable behavior. I’m not exactly sure of the words I used or the tone in which it was delivered but I’m sure it was appropriate.  After the verbal exchange a third grade boy spoke up and said, “Mr. Brandon, just how long has it been since you had a break from us?  I’m thinking you need a day off.  Maybe even a week off.  Until you get a little break let me help you with this, take a deep breath, now slowly blow it out.”  He repeated the instructions for me several times till I had the hang of it.  Note to self, put in for a sub driver as soon as I get back to school.

Monday, May 4, 2015

“Thesaurus Needed”

Just the right word, it can make all the difference in the thought you are trying to convey.  Sometimes political correctness has to go out the window and you have to go for the knockout punch that leaves the listener with no doubt about what you were trying to say.  The conversation started this way, “Mr. Brandon, I don’t like this word and I just don’t like using it but I have no choice so I’m just going to say it.”  You know the list of words that were now scrolling through my mind.  “Mr. Brandon my relatives are……., are………. stupid.  There I said it, they’re stupid.  I hated to do it but it’s done.  My Grandpa gave some of them one hundred dollars and they spent it on junk just junk.  They could have used it on important stuff like paying their bills or on gas for their cars but no they just bought junk.  Yes they are stupid.”  I’m sure I was hearing the highlights of a sermon that Grandpa had already preached.  He continued on for a few more minutes and then crossed his arms and sit in disgruntled silence.  To paraphrase John Wayne, “Sometimes a boy’s gotta say what a boy’s gotta say.”  Maybe next time he could describe them as “Financially Challenged”.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

“Pesky Details”

Leaving an ingredient out or putting the wrong ingredient in can make all the difference in the outcome of the dish.  Thousandths of a second is the difference in victory and second place.  We know details make all the difference.  Two third graders were discussing the details of romance, a tricky subject at best.  One third grader had narrowed it down to these essential ingredients and shared with his friend.  “If you are going to have a relationship with a girl,” he said, “you need to remember these four things.  1. Be a man.  2. Smell like a man.  3. Take care of your girl.  4. Never, ever tell her that she needs to lose weight.  Ernest Hemingway said, “Every man's life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.”  I believe it is safe to say if you do not abide by detail four I can tell you why you possibly died.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Lore has it that when the Greek scholar Archimedes stepped into a bath and the water level rose he understood the relationship between the displacement of water and the volume of the object being placed in the water.  Presumably at the moment of discovery he called out “Eureka” the Greek equivalent of I have found.  Discovery can be a powerful moment.  What discovery was made on a bus full of middle school students I am not sure.  As we traveled down the road the moment of discovery must have occurred for one student, for he yelled out, “Urethra”.  There was a moment of silence when all heads turned towards him.  “What?” he said as he faced his fellow students. At this point the stares had changed to laughter.  Trying to ease the awkwardness of the situation I said, “A very fine scientific word but possible not one to be shouted out on a bus.” With a genuinely confused look he said, “What do you think I said?”  It was repeated by those around him.  Now with a blush to his face he said, “No I said Eureka, I said Eureka.”  With much laughter he was reassured of what he had really said.  He lowered his head in embarrassment and all soon returned to normal.  Before he left the bus he looked at me and asked, “By the way what does that mean?”  I assured him he had not entered the world of words that mom will wash your mouth out for and that he should just go home and look it up.  His friend said he would but he was afraid his mother would check his internet history on the computer.  They say knowledge is power, but a little knowledge in the hands of a middle school student is a dangerous thing.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

"Finding Rest"

We have all been tired and in need of rest for our weary bodies.  We have also known the weariness of spirit.  A spirit in need of rejuvenation and rest cannot find comfort in a rested body but a tired body can be strengthened by a renewed spirit.  I assume a student was weary in spirit when he leaned forward and said in a very soft subdued voice, “Mr. Brandon do you think you could sing Amazing Grace for me?” After a few verses he said, “That was pretty good.  That’s my grandma’s favorite song.”  This in turn must have put another rider to thinking because in the same soft tones she asked, “Mr. Brandon do you think you could,” she paused and I wondered what comfort her little spirit needed, “could you whistle the tune from the Andy Griffith Show?”  We each find solace in our own way.

Friday, April 17, 2015

“Deep In the Heart Of……”

Most of you understand that I have many nick names for the students that ride the bus each day.  Some of the nick names I actually call them when they are on the bus and some nick names I only use here to protect the innocent or guilty whichever way you want to go.  As the students were getting off the bus I called them by name saying have a good afternoon.  I said goodbye to Sharkie, because she has an aquarium shirt with a shark on it that she is fond of.  Then there was Hollywood, because I didn’t know her name and she was wearing sunglasses one day so, Hollywood.  I was not aware that a young lady behind me was listening as I commented to each person as they left the bus.  When I pulled to her house and called her by her actual name she said, “Why don’t I have a nick name?” It was a reasonable question.  I thought about her personality not a tom boy but not girly, girly either.  Well maybe attire. Some days a cute girl outfit, others days shorts, t-shirt and tennis shoes.  This could prove difficult.  But before I had a chance to render my verdict she said, “I want to be called, Tex.”  So, Tex it is.  You never really know what lies deep in the heart of a person.  It may be a dusty old cowboy.


On a dark and stormy morning there is a quick flash of light from behind me.  There was just something about it that did not register as a flash of lighting.  Then there it was again.  I looked in the mirror and was none to surprised to see Mr. Mucus with a head lamp on.  “What’s up with the light?” I asked.  “You never know what this weather is going to do,” he responded. “I want to be ready so I also got some crackers in one pocket and a bottle of water in the other, just in case we have to go to the basement for a tornado.” If we go to the basement I know who I’m sitting next to. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

“Movie Review”

Wanting to share his new movie knowledge a third grader asked, “Mr. Brandon have you seen the movie Tammy?”  Mentally I run through my movie library.  Let’s see there was Tammy and the Bachelor, Tammy Tell Me True, Tammy and the Doctor, and Tammy and the Millionaire.  Each had the same story line.  Young naive country girl, my favorite was Sandra Dee, who lives with her grandfather and prays to God about the many confusing thing in her life, falls in love with sophisticated man about town.  She sings about nature and especially about her new found love and in turn is rejected by high society.  High society then learns valuable lessons from the girl with the pure and loving heart.  Holding these movies with fond memories and knowing we all have sang along to “Tammy, Tammy, Tammy’s in love” I said, “Tell me about it.”  Then I settled back to listen to the heartwarming story as told through the eyes of a younger generation.  “Well,” he began, “there was this girl who got fired from her job so she stole a bunch of stuff and then her and her grandma went on a trip.  Her grandma was on a lot of medication and she wouldn’t take it so she acted crazy all the time.  Then they picked up a guy on the trip and they did some things that I can’t say because you know it was rated R.”  I pulled the plug on the movie summary with a “What are you watching R rated movies for?”  “I don’t know, I just wanted to know if you had seen the movie,” he said.  So one generation watches a rather admittedly, campy movie about a young girl named Tammy, who loves, cares for, and respects her grandfather who has very few material good and offers only love and understanding in return.  She treats others with respect even when looked down on and we see how other can respond when shown the right example.  Another generation watches a movie about a young lady named Tammy that has no respect for herself or those around her.  She goes on a trip with her heavily medicated grandmother, because the grandmother has money.  They drink, steel, and pick up strange men along the way doing things that no one should be doing.  There are some who would argue that a movie is just entertainment and whether we watch or don’t watch has nothing to do with the morals of our society.  I’m not one of them.  I believe tonight I will watch a Tammy movie where the most provocative nude scene is when Tammy dangles her bare feet in the waters of the Mississippi River.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

"Light the Corner of My Mind"

A sight, a smell, a sound all can trigger memories that come back to us and fill our hearts as if we were living them again.  And they don’t have to make sense to anyone else, nor should they, but they are a part of us we cannot escape.  In the quiet of the night all alone, if I hear a refrigerator running I cannot help but find myself as a small boy in bed at my grandparent’s house safe and warm in the spare room next to the kitchen.  The right song on the oldies station can restore to me again my small children singing from the back seat of the car.  What sight, sound, or smell triggered a memory for Mr. Mucus I do not know but he said, “Mr. Brandon, do you remember when I was little and …..”  He has been riding the bus for five years so at this point many fond memories ran through my mind.  The time he was a super spy, when he told me I could be a part of his scout troop, or the many times he has told me, “I love you man.” So I was a little set back with the end of the statement.  “and I would get sick and throw up almost every day?”  Yes I remembered, over twenty times in one year.  I know how I felt about those memories but it was obviously not how he felt for he ended with, “Good times, good times.”

Thursday, March 19, 2015

"The Lookout"

A cry of warning shattered the usual din of the bus, “Take cover!”  I looked in the mirror and there was the watchman or in this case the watchwomen.  A kindergartner with her hair in long pig tails was standing in the seat.  With a look of urgency she shouted again, “Take cover!”  I and many other riders scanned the horizon expecting the on slot of an aerial bombardment, but all seemed to be clear.  I glanced back at her just in time to see pig tails sail across the aisle in a rather surprising leap.  She popped up from behind the seat.  I’m thinking this can’t be some type of flash back.  She’s a kindergartner she doesn’t have enough years to flash back on.  As she peered over the back of the seat there was one last cry of warning, “Everybody take cover!” Then she disappeared behind the seat.  I’m now thinking it’s trauma due to an overzealous teacher during a tornado drill.

Monday, March 16, 2015

"What Are Your Chances?"

Several days of rain had brought the local river to flood stage.  So it was not surprising when we crossed the bridge that the children commented on the amount of water that was moving with such great force as it made its way down stream.  There were a lot of wows and look at that’s then a young lady who was obviously of a more mathematical mind set spoke up and said, “If you stepped into that you would have a 100% chance of dying.” I thought that very nicely summed it up, but she continued, “You would have a 50% chance of drowning, and a 10% chance of surviving.  May first thought was her math teacher needs to do a little work with percentages.  I looked at her in the mirror and guest what I’ll be working on in math class?  I’m 110% sure some of them won’t get it.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

"Who Are You?"

Because of Mr. Brandon’s faulty memory there are a number of students on the bus that have names neither they nor their parents ever intended for them.  Instead of saying, “Hey you,” when I need a riders attention I often just call out a name loud enough that they look and then I add, “That’s right _________ I mean you.”  Even when I call them by what I believe to be their correct name I’m usually wrong.  After two years of talking to one little girl, believing I was using her real name, not a fictional Mr. Brandon name, she politely said, “You do know that’s not my name don’t you?”  I’ve called one little girl Francine so long that her mother said she now calls her Francine at home.  There is one young lady that has given me a challenge.  I will often call a child by the name of the character that appears on the t-shirt of jacket that they are wearing.  The first time I meet the young lady she was wearing a jacket with an animated character on the front.  I was sure I knew the character so I said, “How you doing Dave?”  She quickly and adamantly said, “His name is Kevin.” She wore the same jacket a number of days and so I referred to her and she answered to, Kevin.  Then she changed to a shirt with a different character and I was informed her name was Lightning.  Then she was Batman. I tried to hold true to the changing name according to attire.  Not sure what she was wearing when one afternoon she stood up in the seat and shouted, “Mr. Brandon, guess what.  I’m King of the World.”  Several of us said, “Don’t you mean Queen of the World?” “NO! King of the World!” was her reply.  By the way she said it we all knew better than to argue with her.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

"Silver Lining"

Our mothers would say, “If you can’t say anything good, don’t say anything at all.”  We’ve all heard it.  If we all followed it, it would be a much nicer world or a much quieter one.  It is quite the challenge.  We have all faced the question, “What do you think about this?” If you pause, you might as well have said, “I don’t like it.”  If you were to tell the truth you would have to say, “I don’t like it.”  Many a man has been tangled in the trap of, “Do you think she is prettier than me?” There is a young man on the bus that is the king of encouragement and compliments.  He will often sit on the front seat and talk to the other riders as they board the bus.  He especially likes telling the young girls how pretty they look.  One very rainy morning a young lady stepped onto the bus soaked.  He looked at her and said, “You’re all wet, but you still look beautiful.” His skills were put to the test when a young man on the bus, who was at odds with someone else, was receiving ridicule from those around him.  As with many discussions with students the comments were focused on his appearance.  Before I had a chance to step in and put a stop to the bombardment of comments the King of Compliments came to his aid.  He said, “Wait,” and there was a stop in comments from others.  “He is handsome…………………for someone in his family.”  Men maybe we could modify this approach.  “Yes dear, you are more beautiful than any other woman, standing directly in front of me at this moment.”

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

“The Lost Art”

What we have gained in the age of technology has been at the expense of the beauty of the written word.  Thx 2 IM we can hurriedly say, “wuzup girl, <3 u.” Where is the beauty and grace?  Jane Austen said it like this, "In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you."  Thank goodness there are romantics that continue to strive to weave the tapestry of the written word.  A third grader said, “Mr. Brandon, I’ve written a love letter to my girlfriend.  Tell me what you think.”  As he spoke I was moved by words of passion.  “I am so sorry that I stood you up at the dance.  I have thought about it and have decided to give you a second chance.  Do you love me?  Check yes or no.”  When he receives his response I believe the words that he will be looking for have already been penned by Alfred Lord Tennyson, "'Tis better to have loved and lost, Than never to have loved at all."

Friday, February 13, 2015

“A Blessing in the Discarded”

If the bus was a game show the most often played game would be “Guess the Bus Driver’s Age”.  The general consensus from the younger crowd up front has been ninety-seven.  This on some days feels right in the ballpark.  On one such day different ages were being discussed and the question was asked if the first bus I drove was pulled by horses.  A young man came to my defense and wanted to say, “Mr. Brandon, I hope you live a long time.”  That was not what came out. What he ended up saying was, “Mr. Brandon, I hope you live the rest of your life.”  The more I thought about it, the more it reminded me of the story of Robinson Crusoe.  No, not the obvious, a bus driver’s every day struggle for survival in a harsh and unfriendly environment.  Robinson Crusoe inventories what supplies that he has, taking in account each item and how it may aid in his survival on this uninhabited island.  He examines a small bag of grain hoping it contains something that is eatable, only to find that the contents have already been fouled by rats. Greatly disappointed he then discards the contents on the ground and keeps the bag for a possible storage container.  Months pass and Robinson Crusoe finds stalks of grain growing in the very spot where he had deposited the seemingly useless contents of the bag.  It is the beginning of a far greater blessing than a quick meal; it is a crop that he will propagate.  It will be a sustaining source of bread for the many years that he is marooned on the island.  I discarded what the young man had said as a funny mix up of words only to discover that the more I thought about it the more I realized I hoped I lived the rest of my life also.  I don’t know what there is in this life that you think is living, but never settle on just existing.  It’s never too late to make a difference, not only in your life but in the lives of those around you and “Live the rest of your life.”

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

"Culinary Arts"

He was most defiantly a man of his word.  The day before he said he was going to bake some cookies and that he would bring me some.  So I was not at all surprised when he boarded the bus and asked, “Mr. Brandon do you want a sample of my cookies?”  “Sure,” I said not being one to turn down a good home made cookie, even if it was 6:30 in the morning.  He reached in his book bag and I anticipated the usual plastic baggie with some cookies in it.  They say that one eats first with the eyes.  This being true, this was a dessert fit for the blind.  He pulled his little pudgy fist from a pocket on his book bag, stuck it in front of me, opening it to reveal a wad of what appeared to be chocolate chip cookie.  A flash of one hundred food born illnesses passed through my mind as I placed the lump in my mouth.  I was quite surprised.  His genius of presentation was realized, he knew that the warmth and moister of the hand would give it that fresh from the oven taste.  He then passed out samples to several other children that were seated around him.  Everyone was in agreement that the cookie wads were delicious.  With the approval of his taste testers he then revealed the recipe and cooking technic.  Buy at Food Value, turn oven to 350 degrees and don’t lick your fingers while you’re cooking.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

"If You Give Them A Break"

If you give a parent a break
As you're driving down the road
And give them a few extra minutes
While you're picking up your load

Then tomorrow as you circle
Once more around the block
They'll need a few more minutes
Because they can't find a sock

The next thing you know
They're just getting out of bed
And when you get to school
Can you make sure they're fed

Later that evening
As you take their child home
Make sure they get through the door
And they're not left alone

If there are no cars there
There's no one home no doubt
Could they ride the bus
To the end of the route

If it's not to much trouble
Make sure they have a snack
Could you find the book they lost
And put it in their pack

Clean up when they get sick
Don't make them walk in rain or cold
Let them off at their friend's house
Or anywhere you're told

The first day you miss their child
Because he was hiding behind the trees
They'll call transportation
As pretty as you please

That sorry old bus driver
So the story goes
Was driving 80 miles an hour
As he went down our road

He flew right past our house
Wearing an evil frown
Ran over the neighbor's dog
And never even slowed down

The moral to this story
Is quite simply this
Go off and leave them the first day
And get the call over with

Friday, January 30, 2015

"Dreams Die Hard"

Almost the first of February but it was one of those days that could fool you into believing that spring was just around the corner.  It was warm enough outside that I opened the driver’s window to let air circulate through the bus to keep it from getting stuffy from all those little warm bodies.  Students were excitedly talking about how they were going to play outside when they got home.  Then in all the excitement there was a sound that was out of place.  It started low but began to grow in volume.  I looked in the rearview mirror for the source of the sound of someone crying.  Now crying on a school bus is not an unusual occurrence.  It quite often is coming from the driver but that’s another story.  Yet this was not just crying it was on the verge of what I would term as weeping.  I located the source and there she set with tears rolling down her little round face.  One look at her and you couldn’t help but think, “Who ever made this baby cry is in serious trouble.”  The little boy seating next to her was the obvious choice.  This would not be the first little girl he made cry.  Then I did what any man with a daughter and a granddaughter would do.  I gave him the evil eye and at the same time I said, “Come here baby tell Mr. Brandon what’s wrong.”  There was a pause while I waited for the sobbing to come under control so I could understand what she was saying.  During this pause all I could think was how much trouble that boy was going to be in.  Catching her breath she was able to tell me the heart wrenching details, “Mr. Brandon, I wanted a space ship for Christmas and I didn’t get one.”  Having relayed the information she then turned the tears back on.  I would have gladly given her a space ship, if I had one, but no luck.  Trying to ease her pain I explain that I had not received a space ship for Christmas either.  Then we took a quick survey of the four front seats.  Seems no one had received a space ship for Christmas.  It did not ebb the flow of tears but they did slow down.  When dreams die, solace is often difficult to find.

Friday, January 16, 2015


Each of us have our routines that we go through each day.  I try to leave the school each morning at the same time, each student expecting me at the time they have become familiar with.  Most mornings I pass the same cars that are also keeping their appointed schedules.  There is the red car that I always meet going south as I go north.  She always passes with a friendly wave and a warm smile.  There is always that car, with a Tennessee tag, that flies past as if they are trying to qualify for the Daytona Five hundred.  The routines continue with the children.  The Three Stooges are always running around pushing and shoving each other as they wait for the bus.  There are the students that always wait till the last minute to run to the bus from the house and those that are putting on their shoes on the porch so you will see them and not go off and leave them.  Then there is the mother in her house coat that sticks her arm out the door and holds up one finger as if it were a flare to signal that her children will again take longer than anyone else on the route to get to the bus.  Then there is the daily routine of Charlie.  When I stop to pick up one second grader Charlie is there to greet his master as he runs from the house to the bus.  In the afternoon Charlie is there again to greet him as he gets off the bus.  Rain or shine Charlie is a constant.  One morning as the second grader emerged from the house Charlie was wagging is little stubby tail so hard that it was shaking his entire body.  It brightened my day and started it off with a laugh.  I didn’t know goats could wag their tails like that.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

"Thanks UPS"

As we approached Hot Pickle Boy’s house he asked me if I would slow down so he could look for something.  In the afternoons he does not get off the bus at his house he goes to his grandmother’s house, just a few doors down, until his mother gets home.  He wanted me to slow down so he could look on the porch.  He was looking for a delivery from UPS.  He said he had saved up some money and had ordered something and wanted to look and see if it had arrived.  Now to say that Hot Pickle Boy is country and has unusual taste is like saying that dogs crave attention and cats only look at you with disgust, it’s just understood.  He was not forth coming with what he had ordered but assured me that when it came in he would be sure and let me see it.  Well, several days went by of slowing and looking to no avail.  After about a week he boarded the bus one morning and said the package had arrived and he had brought it for me to look at.  But in typical kid fashion I had to guess, with the hint, starts with a “G” ends with an “S”.  With his background I went through my mental archives of Hot Pickle Boy.  Hunting or fishing gear was the most likely item.  My attempt to guess was fruitless so he decided to move to the unveiling.  He unzipped his book bag and pulled out an Israeli military gas mask.  Said he had ordered it on line, showed me how it fit and how the canister was attacked to the front.  He then modeled it for me turned and walked down the aisle, still wearing the gas mask, and was seated. I would have liked to have had a cleaver quote or maybe a deep philosophical thought at this time but I just don’t know what to say about looking in the rear view mirror and seeing a student donning a rubber, military, gas mask while riding your bus.