When it comes to discipline, some drivers just have the magic touch. They command respect, effortlessly squelch insurrections in the bud, and pilot buses full of quiet, obedient children.
Then there are schlubs like me who rely on assigned seats, disciplinary write-ups, lectures, threats and shrieking to little or no avail.
(This blog is based on actual events, though names, places and some personal details have been changed to protect the innocent as well as the guilty and avoid libel suits.)
It was with great envy that I listened to a colleague recount the good old days when she set a district record for kicking misbehaving kids off her bus in mid-journey. Yep. There was a time when you could simply stop wherever you were and order an obstreperous urchin to walk home.
Perhaps my futility is best captured by this early entry in the journal I started when I began driving in 2018: “To make the worst kids stop misbehaving, you can’t move them, you can’t talk to their parents, you can’t write them up. The only solution I can think of is lobotomy.”
Now, forced mutilation may be a tad extreme and not likely to be well-received by parents or the school district for that matter, but I have some other suggestions that I think are perfectly reasonable and would like to see implemented:
DOUBLE-DECKER BUS: A staple of London and tourist companies in other major cities, this is the most humane option on my list. It would enable me to quarantine the hellions upstairs while the good children ride in peace below.
HAND TOOLS: On many occasions I have threatened to come back and secure wandering children to their seats with my heavy duty staple gun. Jehosaphat, a particularly mobile fourth-grader, was told after many, many, many warnings and a conference with his father that he would be receiving the hammer-and-three-penny-nails treatment. I have yet to make good on these threats, mind you, but kids push me at their own risk.
ALTERNATIVE SEATING: After constantly moving the seats of expert firestarters to no effect, I announced that I would be putting them on the roof or in the luggage compartment under the bus.
“You can’t do that!” Robespierre cried.
“Not yet,” I replied. “But I’ve asked my boss. I think he’s starting to come around.”
EJECTOR SEATS: It only takes one bad apple to ignite a behavioral conflagration, so having the ability to push a button on a grid and send the bad fruit into orbit a la James Bonds’ famous Aston-Martin would be a godsend.
TRANQUILIZER DARTS: To borrow the immortal words of the Beach Boys, wouldn’t it be nice? I mean, to have these at your disposal so all you have to do is pull over, take aim and restore calm to the bus?
RIOT GEAR: One raucous afternoon I pulled up to Fiends ‘n Fun Day Care and informed the lady at the door that a re-enactment of the 1886 Haymarket Riot was in progress on my bus and I had called for tear gas, but the district had yet to respond. I still think a cloud agent would help … along with a few flash-bang grenades to get the kids’ attention.
“I want the entire arsenal,” I insisted yet again while visiting the Head Bus Driver’s office to press my case. “If that’s my legacy here, I’ll be happy.”
“For the kids or for you?” she asked.
For me, certainly, but our router thoughtfully suggested a little something for our entire staff: “We need valium salt licks.”
No, this isn’t a profession for the faint of heart, so I heartily salute all those who can handle it without resorting to the wonders of technology and chemistry.