As the survey goes, we remember our school bus drivers fondly. I certainly can remember my bus driver. His name was Jack. He smoked cigars, although not while he was driving. Even before all the public smoking restrictions that are in place today, school officials frowned on guys throwing finished cigars or even flicking ashes out bus windows.
As the survey goes, we remember our school bus drivers fondly.
“With the end of another school year, school days will become just a memory. But for some the memories still linger,” said an e-mail I got recently from First Student, a part of the Cincinnati-based FirstGroup company that provides school bus and other transportation.
“Most adults, without hesitation, can readily recall the name of a favorite elementary school teacher,” the e-mail said, reporting on a survey the company did about such memories. “A surprising 39 percent can also recall the name of their school bus driver.”
I certainly can remember my bus driver. His name was Jack. He smoked cigars, although not while he was driving. Even before all the public smoking restrictions that are in place today, school officials frowned on guys throwing finished cigars or even flicking ashes out bus windows. One innocent student gets hit by a randomly thrown butt and the school suddenly is a family-run business.
So, as you can see, I have vivid memories of my bus driver. But, then, I may be a bad case to study. To me my bus driver was not just Jack, he was Uncle Jack. My mom grew up with him. He brought us fruit for Christmas every year — how many bus drivers do you remember who did that? He showed up — without the bus — at other family gatherings. He was my godfather, for heaven’s sake. This is not a bus driver I’m likely to forget.
Nor would he let me. During the route it was always “Gary” this and “Gary” that. Any trouble that supposedly occurred on the bus always got blamed on the nephew. If there was any loud noises, any shouts, any high-volume laughter, the nephew would always hear “Gary!” Should anybody got hit on the head with a wadded up piece of paper — even just one guy, who might have deserved it from some prior commotion — it always was the nephew who got called out on it.
“Gary, if I have to stop this bus and ...”
Obviously, the school bus driver I remember spoke frequently with my dad.
You see, the downside of not only knowing your bus driver, but also being related to him is that he expects you to be above bad behavior. He expects you to be a school bus leader. He wants you to control everybody’s behavior on the bus — at a time you can barely control your own. And if any disobedience breaks out along the route, a bus driver who is Uncle Jack, instead of just Jack, will attempt to prove he’s not showing favoritism to you. He’ll single you out and hold you responsible for the sins of the entire busload. It’s not fair. But, it’s life.
So, be thankful if you were unrelated to the school bus driver you remember. Consider yourself fortunate, perhaps, if you can’t even recall your bus driver. He was just a guy who made wide turns.
I loved Uncle Jack. But riding on his bus was a lot of pressure, except on my birthday when he gave me a present when I got off.
“Your aunt and I wanted you to have this.”
The gifts were great memories, at least on the years they weren’t socks and underwear.
Contact Canton Repository writer Gary Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org