We have had many bus drivers since Soren started riding the bus two years ago. Our first was our best. His name is Phil and he was a seasoned driver. He showed up on time, he was friendly, and he really liked Soren. He liked him so much he stuck with Soren's route through that first summer even though he could have been moved to an easier one.
But the last September, Phil was moved to another route. Still he checks on Soren every time he's at the school. They are buds. So we got a new driver. Actually we probably had a number of them until we got Ebony. Ebony was sweet. She loved to hear Soren's laugh when she drove, which for some reason he did often when he was with her. She watched as our ramp was being built, anxious to see it finished. Loading Soren up was much more difficult before the ramp. She was also looking forward to the red curb because people were parking into my driveway space making it really hard for Ebony to get the bus in. But just as the ramp was finished and the curb was being painted, Ebony moved back to Ohio due to the economics of L.A.
Next we got Mr. Grouchy. Now I don't know Mr. Grouchy's name because he never told me. He was clearly bitter about being a bus driver and let it show. I could barely get a hello from him and I'm a friendly gal. When he returned to pick Soren up after Spring Break, I asked if he had a nice vacation. He grumbled at me quite angrily that he didn't have a break--he had to work--as if this was my fault.
Mr. Grouchy trained a number of people to try and take over the route. First there was Mr. Dimbulb. Mr. Dimbulb had a tendency to trip over the bus lift as he was backing Soren onto it. Often he couldn't work the lift because he had trouble maneuvering the buttons while using his reading glasses.
The first day Mr. Dimbulb was on his own, without Mr. Grouchy, he showed up 15 minutes early. He was lucky I was ready with Soren because, had it been bath day, I wouldn't have been. I told him he was REALLY early. I tried to tell him that, while this was fine, he had to tell me BEFORE he showed up early. He acted like he couldn't understand my English. He then tried to tell me that this time worked better for him--that he was changing the schedule. As he left, I really questioned sending Soren off on the bus with him. I called the bus dispatch to tell them about my interaction, asking if they could find someone who spoke Spanish to make it clear that he needs to tell me if he's changing the schedule. The folks there told me 1) That he's not allowed to change the schedule and 2) He speaks perfectly good English. He couldn't have gotten the job without that. So he was totally hosing me pretending he couldn't understand or talk to me!
That afternoon he was LATE. Really, really, really late. So late I was freaking out fearing that I had made the worst mistake of my life letting him take Soren that morning. I called dispatch to see what was happening. Turns out the bus lift broke down and then had to get him a new bus with one that worked (would have been nice if they called). Hearing this I was pretty confident that the lift was just fine. I had seen Mr. Dimbulb fail to work that lift so many times I figured he just thought he broke it. He finally showed up with Soren, safe and sound.
The next morning Mr. Grouchy was back driving the bus. I asked what happened to Mr. Dimbulb. Mr. Grouchy said he was reassigned. Yeah, right.
Next we had a young gal who was nice enough and showed up on time more or less. Whenever Mr. Grouchy had to substitute for her, I got the feeling he didn't like her. She was gone when summer school began and Mr. Grouchy became our driver for the summer. That was a long, grouchy summer.
This fall, a nice guy--let's call him Mr. Nice Guy--showed up to take over Soren's route in a big bus. The first day he was late. But every day after that he showed up on time and dropped Soren off by 3:00. He was a seasoned pro, he had a good sense of humor, and he liked Soren. I was really happy with this change.
But good things just don't last in the bus driving world. Last week Mr. Nice Guy was training another new gal to take over Soren's route. She drives a small bus. She's also very nice. But, being new, she is doing everything VERY SLOWLY. She's not on time with pick-up or drop-off. Once she gets Soren on the bus it takes forever for him to get his chair tied down. And when she drops him off, we're in the house a good 5 minutes before she finally leaves.
The glorious part about this new bus driver happened yesterday. As I mentioned in my previous post, we had 5 feet of our curb painted red so that nobody would park there. This way the bus would have room to pull in and load up Soren. Well, yesterday some joker dropping off his kid at Moira's school decided to park not only in the red all the way to the edge. I thought of going out and explaining the situation, asking him to kindly move his car. But I just wasn't in the mood to get yelled at or had eyes rolled at me.
Well, while he was gone, the bus pulled up to load up Soren. The way she had to pull up totally blocked this car from getting out. I took Soren, the New Gal got him on the bus, and then the guy returned to his car.
And I just sat at my window and watched. And smiled. The clock was ticking. I don't know what the New Gal was doing. She had to be tying Soren's chair down with ropes and chains and belts. That bus was parked there for a good 5 to 7 minutes. And that guy in the car was trapped. It was so satisfying. He had nobody to blame but himself. His eagerness to do something quickly, my red-painted curb be damned, only cost him a bucket of time. I was never so happy to have a driver move so slowly.
The lack of motion was poetry in motion.