We are old, but still have a senior in high school. In my entire life with children, this is the first time the advantage of public transportation to school could be utilized. At first, it seemed like a miracle. But even then, the experience was a little weird.
Our drive is more than two-tenths of a mile, off a dirt road, and off a state highway. The students are not allowed to stand on a two lane highway to wait for the bus, so our driver comes down the dirt road to pick Garrett up and turns around in our drive, also dirt. My bad: our drive is pure sand; one cannot ride a bicycle down it. Where we live used to be the bottom of the ocean.
The driver once tried to use the circle drive accessing our three buildings and with a tight radius, with the bus. Nightmare for a gardener. She almost took down half of an adolescent live oak tree, and a group of bridal veils. We all decided she would pick up Garrett down by the mailbox.
We first met our driver when signing up Garrett before his junior year in high school. She was eating her lunch at the receptionist desk in the public area of the school. She IS the receptionist. And she drives a bus. And she is the manager of the bus system for the school. Lucky, she is her own boss. And therein lies the problem.
We went to early Thanksgiving dinner at school last week. On the way to the cafeteria, my husband spoke to the receptionist/bus driver. She looked down, ashamed. She knew what was going to happen. We are trying to figure out how she looks at her job in this middle class institution of a public school. She goes through the motions of running a bus on a route. But running a bus on a route is NOT the job, the picking up of students on that route and getting them safely to school is the job. Often she will come around 15 minutes early to our stop (or a little more or a little less). Garrett not being there, she turns around in our drive, and leaves. We can hear her back-up warning through the woods.
Glenn has been around the block (so to speak) with her many times. He called Garrett’s old school in Missouri and requested the bus schedule handout that all the parents get at the beginning of each school year which shows the bus route and the window of time for arrival at each stop. They were amazed, but they sent it for Glenn to show this bus driver and manager of busses.
Cultural differences run deep. The idea that if she is running early, that she should sit at a stop for a few minutes (who knows? Maybe the students on that stop will have time to make the bus) so she arrives at the rest of the stops in the correct window of time is beyond her (and her boss). We think that part of the problem down here in SC may be that rural students simply do not go to school when it is cold. That would make her early if many stops did not have to be made. Hard to believe, but this is South Carolina.
What she said to us at the Thanksgiving lunch is that her new aide on the bus is always on time, so they always leave “early”. Digest that statement! OK, so no notification of any kind to let us know about the good work habits of the aide? No, we just smoothly slide by each stop wondering (or maybe not) why there are no students waiting.
It happened again this morning, after our little talk.