For the one that will take my place:
The school is not exactly down town. I have found that the rural roads that lead to the school are great for letting you catch your breath as you are about to start your day. I personally have found it to be a great quiet time to say a prayer of thanks for all that I have been blessed with or to make request for the many things that I seem to come up short on. As you are checking your bus out, which is important because you make up 50% of the schools fleet of buses, you will hear a multitude of roosters from the farm next door crowing to welcome the day. You may even see a few of them scampering across the school grounds. In the spring it's always blow the grass out your tail pipe time. No, this is not a type of country insult. During the spring, because of the large diameter of the tail pipe on the bus, the swallows try to build a nest in it each afternoon when the bus is parked and it has cooled off. Monday mornings are the worst, when you start the bus about a half a bale of hay will blow out the tail pipe. They will continue to do this for about two weeks before they give up and move on. As you pick up the students, it may seem like a no brainer, be sure to smile and say, "Good morning." You see for some of them you will be the first friendly voice they have heard that morning and for some you are the first person they have talked to that morning because no matter how small you may think they are, they got themselves up, got dressed, and came out to wait on the bus all by themselves because Mom or Dad never got out of bed. Some of the first students to get on the bus will be a brother and sister. The brother will just go sit down but the sister will often stop look at you, she has a little scar over her left eye, and say, "Guess what?" For the sake of time just guess anything because she will give no hints. I usually go with the absurd like, "A dinosaur ran through your yard or your brother was eaten by an alligator." You will have to make at least two guesses before she will tell you the guess what. Do not let her sit by her brother they will fight all the way to school. At this point you have a few miles before the next pick up. If you want you can talk to the little quiet boy that will sit right behind you. He hardly ever responds so I often do both sides of the conversation. As you come into the next neighborhood you will pass in front of Hot Pickle Boy's house but don't stop he has moved on up to the middle school. I'm sorry that you won't get to know him. One day, the last week of school, he was standing waiting on the bus in a full ghillie suit. If you don't know what a ghillie suit is, it is the suit worn by hunters or military snipers that helps them to blend in with grasses and other flora. In his case he looked like a Sasquatch waiting for a ride. So on my list of things that I thought I would never see or hear I added two things: 1. Picked up kid in ghillie suit. 2. Gave Sasquatch a ride to school. Oddly enough he was also the reason for the one listed right above that, when he got on the bus one morning wearing a military gas mask. After a few more stops you will be picking up the Twins Who Are Not Twins. To avoid a lecture no matter how much they look alike, dress alike, or talk alike do not say or refer to them as twins. After all these years I still don't know who is who. Later you will pick up a young man that loves to wear a mohawk. I just call him rooster he seems to be ok with it. Before you leave the neighborhood you will need to pick up my best friend Mr. Mucus. He has grown from a little kindergartner whose face was always gooey to a young man that is kind hearted and will befriend those that need it. If you have a new student that is scared his or her first day, Mr. Mucus is you man and if you let him he will be your best friend also. There will be a little girl on the route, which if she doesn't grow out of it, will cry almost every day she gets on the bus. With her you have to do the Daddy thing and not feel sorry for her or she will cry all the way to school. Give her to the end of the block to stop on her own, she will on occasion, if she hasn't stopped look at her and say, "Knock it off already you're not hurt." Most of the time the tears are turned off instantly. There are several little boys that will make you wish you had a tranquilizer gun to use on them or yourself. Just grit your teeth and hold on. You will pick up Francine along the way, that's not her name but I've called her that for so long, because I didn't know her name, that she answers to it better than when you call her real name. She never fails to turn and wave when she gets off the bus in the afternoon. It's that kind of wave where she just wiggles her fingers. There will be many more, each with their own personalities, each needing a friendly face to start their day. Before you know it you will be a constant figure in their life, the one thing they know that will not change. You will be there each day to say, "Good morning" and there each evening to say, "Have a good evening, see you tomorrow." Remember they may be small but their dreams are big and the things that seem silly and trivial to you and I are world changers to them. And if perchance you feel half as loved by them as I have, you will be truly blessed.