Adventures In Bus Riding:

7 Sep

Of course in our family it wouldn’t be the first day of school without a little adventure. From the time Bill and I got married we’ve had travel drama and it would seem that our oldest son has inherited that too. 

For starters, the bus was over a half an hour late to pick Cameron up. Ok, it’s the first day of school, I get that…No biggie. When I walked Cameron across the street to the bus the bus driver looked REALLY frazzled, kind of like a deer in headlights. She was almost unable to speak. My first thought was, “Uh oh, this isn’t good.” I walked back across the street and saw that Cameron was having a hard time figuring out where to sit. Um, weren’t there supposed to be aids on the buses to help the little people navigate their way? Let it go mama.

I wasn’t feeling too confident that Cameron would make it to his final destination, and Bill was down right pissed off, so I made a call to the district’s transportation department to get some clarification and let them know there was a potential problem. Little did I know at 9:15 yesterday morning just how big of a problem we would have on our hands.

Let’s back track a second…Our school district is fortunate enough to have full day kindergarten, and even better, they have a Kindergarten Center where every kindergartener in the district goes and that’s the only grade there. Awesome right? Well, there’s a catch and it comes in the busing. Cameron gets picked up in the morning and rides the bus to where he will go for first through fifth grades, he gets off the bus there and is placed in a holding area. From there, he is placed on a second transfer bus that takes him across town to the Kindergarten Center. Yes, my son has a layover…Everyday, twice a day. The Kindergarten Center is new this year, and this busing system is brand new too. I’d be pretty naive to think it would go smoothly from day one.

It didn’t…

The major problems came in the return trip. I waited at the bus stop for over an hour, and the time came that I needed Bill to relieve me since I had to head out to work. It’s now 4:30 and my son is not home (he was dismissed form the center at 3:05). At 4:35 Bill calls up to the house that the bus had sped passed without stopping and he was in hot pursuit. He saw Cameron on the bus, he also saw all the other kids standing and jumping around…Real safe right?

Bill jumps out at the next stop and tells the driver that she missed our stop and Cameron was still on the bus. She won’t let him off the bus dispute the fact that she remembers seeing Bill at the bus stop that morning. She also tells Bill that our house is not on her list for the afternoon. Really you twit? You picked him up, he’s on the bus now, where the hell did you think he was going? The bus driver tells Bill she’d double back and drop Cameron off at the house.

We wait….And we wait…And we wait some more. Finally at 4:50pm I call the district’s transportation department to find out what the hell is going on and DEMAND they return my child to me IMMEDIATELY! No answer! You’ve got to be f’ing kidding me! I keep trying and it keeps going to voicemail. I left a message telling them to call me back NOW that my son is being held hostage by his bus driver and I want him returned to me.

Now mom is mad, shaking and seeing red mad. How does this happen?

I call the bus company, explain my situation and in the most calm way I can manage at this point, demand answers. It’s now 5pm and they assure me my son will be home in 15 minutes, and if he’s not to call back.

In an effort to shorten the story, he wasn’t home in 15 minutes, or even 20 or 30. I am beside myself that Cameron has been gone so long and I don’t know if he’s scared or upset. I need to make this better for my little boy on his first day of school. I also have to get to work, which I am already dreadfully late for.

Cameron finally got home at around 6pm. His nearly three hour bus ride included getting lost. Getting stuck in the mud on the side of the road…in the pouring rain. Having a new bus driver and aid get on the bus to take over. And having to give directions back to his own house. Thankfully he took it all in stride and thought it was super cool that he got to ride the bus so long. The only negative thing he said was that he wished he had gotten home a little earlier so he had more time to hangout before bed.

This could have been catastrophic. Let’s set aside the fact that he was being dragged around town with an inexperienced driver in piss poor weather. He could have been traumatized by the whole experience. This could have made him afraid of the bus and killed his love for school. I’m thanking my lucky stars that he picked yesterday afternoon to be the laid-back, easy going Cameron.

As parents of school age children we are forced to put a lot of trust in the school, the district and most importantly the buses (and those who drive them). For someone like me, who is totally new to this and not used to handing over my kid in so many different way, it’s not an easy task to trust. Thanks to the Bus Fiasco of 2011, I have no trust in the bus company or it’s drivers, but at the same time Cameron LOVES the bus and would be devastated if I pulled him off.

So what’s a mother to do? I’ll give them one week to get their shit together. If this crap continues into next week someone is going to get my foot on their throat…Or at least a bus driver will get fired. Yeah, I said it and I don’t care. If you can’t get my kid safely where he needs to be, when he needs to be there then maybe you should find a new profession.

The one positive thing I can say out of all this mess is that everyone within the school district has been pretty great. They’ve been friendly and helpful and they are just as interested in fixing this issue as I am. I got a personal phone call from the district’s Director of Business Administration (the second in command under the Superintendent) apologizing for everything and thanking me for my patience and for keeping them informed on the situation. The school and the district have been quick to respond and made an effort to make it all right. Now, we’ll see later today how right they can make it when we see what time Cameron gets home.

If I have to jump in the road in front of that damn bus, then that’t what I’m going to do!

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