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Friday, June 29, 2012

Week 6... Something Special

Greetings:

This week, after having spent the last few days in McAllen, Texas, attending a Convention and several training classes, I am motivated to share with you what I do now, how it came about, and why I think it is truly Something Special.

I state in the above header that I retired from the Houston Fire Department in 2007, after nearly 33 years.  I was 51 years old at the time.  My wife, Donna, was going to continue working for a few years, at least until we decided what we wanted to do regarding our future.  I bought a lap top and for the next two years, I made my beloved coffee each morning and then set at my desk and stared at numbers on my screen all day trying to conquer but failing miserably the stock market.  During that time, I also probably explored every single online MLM and/or Network Marketing program that existed.  

Toward the end of that nearly two year period, my "Little Bride" suggested made it very clear that I need to get out of the house probably ought to think about finding a part-time job.  How could I disagree?  I spent the next couple of weeks looking online, but was not having any luck finding something I could/would be happy with.  And then, Donna made another suggestion...  She asked me one morning, "What would you think about driving a school bus?"  I looked at her trying not to laugh and said, "Are you crazy?  A school bus?  No way, Jose!"  And then she said, "No, think about it, you loved driving the ladder truck at HFD, it's part-time, you get the summer and holidays off, and you could continue your online stuff during the several hour break each day."  That's when I thought to myself that she just might have a point.  I did like driving that ladder truck.  When she put it that way, it actually sounded pretty good.

In August of 2009, I walked into the Friendswood ISD Transportation Office and filled out an application, was hired, and after mandatory training, obtained my Class B CDL.  Shortly afterwards, I was driving a school bus.  Just one slight huge difference between driving a fire truck and a school bus...  and that would be 60 screaming kids!!!  Wow.  That first week after I was assigned my own route, I was thinking to myself, "What was I thinking???"

But, you know, each week and then each month into the school year, I was getting to know the kids more and more, from Kindergarten, all the way to High School students.  I was starting to understand why the other drivers would say things like "These are my kids" and "I love these kids."  Or, "I don't want to change routes (for that better bus) because I can't leave my kids."  I especially bonded with the little guys and girls.  As they got on the bus each morning, I would greet them with "Yo-yo-yo" and had them give me "five."  I started assigning nicknames to most of them.  There was "Little Man" who was little, but always reminded me that he was not little, he was big.  And then one day, a Jerry Maguire like looking kid started riding the bus who was really little.  So, I greeted him that first morning with, "Yo...  come on in here Little Man."  And the original Little Man balked at that ("I thought I was "Little Man?"), so he became "Little Man #1" and the new guy became "Little Man #2."  Little Man #2 was so little, when I looked in my rear view mirror, I couldn't see him.  I would yell out, "Yo, where's "Little Man #2?"  I would then see this tee-tiny hand appear at the top of the seat.  Cutest thing you ever did see.

There was "Big O" (who's family is just incredible), "Luke Skywalker," "Backdoor Man," "Buzz Lightyear," "Little Miss Natalie," and "Yo-Sie."  There was Booger Girl "BG" (you don't even want to know).  If I called their nickname, they responded.  And on the Intermediate bus route, there was a guy that always carried a flat black bag that had drum sticks in it.  He would take those drum sticks out and "play the drums" on the seat cushion to whatever song I had playing on the radio.  I called him "Stick Man."  As I ended that first year of driving my route, I received gifts and cards from the kids and their parents, as most drivers do.  They were all so sweet and thoughtful, but one card in particular seriously brought tears to my eyes.  The Mother's message to me was powerful, yet so very touching and uplifting, regarding her son's ("J Man") year of riding on my bus.  I found myself "coming around."  I was getting it now...  and I loved my new job.

As I entered my 2nd year, an opportunity came about that I just could not pass up.  I interviewed for a position in the Front Office and was selected and promoted to Lead Driver...  which would mean I would no longer be driving an everyday route.  It would also mean I was losing "my kids."  Now, drivers do call in sick or are assigned field trips, etc., which means occasionally I would fill in for their route, but not necessarily my old route.  As it turns out, I just did not see them much, if at all, during that second year.  But if I drove any route, I was "Yo-yo-yo-ing" and high-5ing and trying to fit in a nickname here and there.

My Sticks...  From "Stick Man"
During this just completed 3rd year for me, I was driving a Junior High route for a driver that was off for a few days.  It happened to be in the neighborhood of my first route back in year one.  On one of those mornings, I rounded a curve and pulled up to a stop, and there was "Stick Man."  He came on the bus and as I called out his name and stuck out my hand to give him five, he bypassed my hand and gave me a bear hug.  Later that afternoon, as he got on the bus to go home, he asked me if I was going to be driving the bus in the morning?  I was going to be.  That next morning, I pulled up to his stop.  He got on the bus, hugged me again, and then...  he presented me with a pair of drum sticks with his "autograph" and a special message to me.  They sit on my desk at home, as you can see, next to my lap top, where I can see them every day.

I've painted a pretty picture here.  To be fair, I should also include that there are days, although few, when there are issues on the bus.  But, like anything in life, you deal with it and move on down the road.  There are so many similar stories I can't even get to, due to space here, but suffice to say, my goal was to shed a little light on a "School Bus Driver" and how rewarding the job can be.  And probably, much of the same can be said for School Teachers as well.  They too have their "kid" stories.  I've just had a "taste" of it and I wanted to try and convey to you why I think driving that Big Yellow School Bus and getting all those kids to school safely each day can be, and for me is, truly Something Special

Photos:  

The "Yellow Kid Cab"

This quote stood out for me this week:  "Laugh when you can, apologize when you should, and let go of what you can't change.  Life's too short to be anything but happy."  Anonymous

Recipe's:  This week, I do not necessarily have a recipe to share, but I do have for you the one secret ingredient that every recipe should have included in it, courtesy of former Top Chef contestant, Carla Hall.  Donna's idea to display this message in our kitchen...  Gotta "love" it.


Love:  Always used in our kitchen...

Libations Anyone???:  As we approach the 4th of July celebrations next week, at the top of most people's cooking list is brisket, burgers, and dogs...  and what better libation is there to match up with those three classics than Ice Cold Beer.  Enjoy yours.  Here is a pic of our "His & Hers" combo:


Enjoy a "Cold One"

Music:  My Featured Artist this week is one of my absolute fave's from way back in the day and still going strong, having just released their new EP, Texi Cali...  I'm talkin' about ZZ Top.  They have so many good songs to choose from, but I think my Top 3 are #1:  Nasty Dogs & Funky Kings, #2:  Waitin' For the Bus, & #3:  What It Is Kid...  What are yours???


Market Watch:  This week, Facebook is holding steady in the low 30's, closing last night (Thursday) at 31.36... 

The End:  The number of page views for the last three post's have been really strong and again, I Thank You.  I love doing this and I appreciate you coming back each week to Slu's World.  Have a great weekend.

Be safe, be smart, and always smile...  It's "Happy Friday"

adios 

8 comments:

  1. Great story. "Something Special" I love it..... :-) , Vicky

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  2. Totally cool, Steve. Getting ready to go into my 5th season of coaching kid's football. On July 30th, we start the practice for this 2012 Season. It'll be like a reunion. To work with the kids and see them grow up is so rewarding as well as challenging at times. They are all 10-11 years old now and I fully understand the reference of "my kids". Keep up the good work!

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    1. my man... good to hear from you. i get it. i know what you mean. you keep it up as well. take care (and get some wins!!!) ha...

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  3. Wonderful blog this week, Slu. Please keep 'em coming. I really look forward to what you write each week.
    Love the Stick Man. Maybe he will be famous some day - Oh, wait...He already is because of your blog. Cool.
    Hugs,
    Donna S.

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    1. thanks so much donna... Stick Man is a good dude. take care and have a great 4th. slu

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  4. I use to do a lot of volunteer work at the boys club - I know the feeling. To this day, I have 30 and 40 year olds run up to me on the street and call me coach. Tricia

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    Replies
    1. that's awesome... it's a great feeling. thanks for sharing & take care.

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