Wednesday, the first day Jimmy wouldn’t be riding our bus, anymore. His family moved to a new town. ~~~Just feelin’ Blue~~~You see, I have been Jimmy’s school bus driver for 3 1/2 years. When he first rode as a kindy, he was afraid and didn’t make a sound. I was told by his 1st grade classmates that he couldn’t speak or understand English. The first part of his 2nd grade year, if I asked him a question, he would give a moan grunt answer. Before that Christmas, he started visiting with other passengers. He even had some hyper moments. By the end of 2nd grade he was telling jokes. He was very watchful of his fellow passengers at their stop, before pick-up and after drop off times. This year, his 3rd grade year, Jimmy helped with communication to parents of new kindy passengers, who could not understand English. His stop had about 8 kindys. At afternoon drop-off time, Jimmy helped teach the kindys to wave at their picker -upper. He understood how important it was for each kindy to have someone they knew, near the bus, to pick them up. Each kindy has to know the name of the person picking them up. My name for them is: picker-upper. Some are parents, sitters, various relatives-all previously approved. About the second week of this school year, I named the stop “Jimmy’s Stop”. At school, my passengers let the school workers know the new name for their stop, even the kindys. It was so fun hearing the staff report this to me. The workers at the school had told me how thrilled they were about Jimmy’s blossoming personality. He had told them how happy he was that Mrs. K had named the stop after him. I learned that his helpfulness went with him to school. He had become such a blessing, for all, to be around. Now, today, January 28, 2015, my heart is sad. No more Jimmy and his family. The passengers are sad, as well. Yep, goneness strikes, again. I will pray for Jimmy and his family-they all were so dear to me—I will miss them all, very much. BUT, was that why I was feelin’ blue ? Maybe I was just dreading my work physical at the end of the day !!! All day long, little nudges of guilt popped up uninvited. As my last passenger left the bus, I realized what was happening. It was a Wednesday. Ugh !!! No matter how hard I try to push grief guilt aside, it has an awful persistence. I feel pretty much alone-no one seems to understand the guilt that hits me, in the face, on a regular basis. I try to ignore it. Fact is, I am just one of those folks who thinks they never try hard enough. This is what God put in the middle of my Wednesday. Usually, I like to close my bus door when I go to clock out then in. This day I did not. When I came back to my bus, I heard a strange rustling noise inside. I am used to the sound of the birds walking on the bus roof, but this sound was by the front seat. Suddenly, a squirrel was sitting on my bus seat. I told it not to be afraid and to please not tinkle on my bus seat cushion. I was given a bothered look. The squirrel hopped up onto the stirring wheel, he just looked at me. He seemed quite upset that I was still there. As he hopped onto the dash, I stepped onto the first step wondering how I was going to get this critter out-I needed to do my kindy run. The squirrel hopped/flew down and headed down the aisle. I decided to go out to the back of the bus open the back door with hopes the squirrel would leave. I was in a hurry and did not want to embarrassingly ask the mechanics to help me ~~~ Opening the door did not bother my guest. So, I thumped on the floor. Finally the my guest ran out the front door and across the bus lot to the wooded area. Just another distraction from God. The next day, I saw a squirrel wiggle up under a tightly closed door, into a bus. I was surprised at how small of an opening the squirrel needed to go through. My attempts at getting the critter to leave, failed. I left the door open, hoping the critter would leave. I can imagine the surprise of an unsuspecting bus driver, or the chaos of a bus full of passengers and a frightened squirrel.
Yesterday, Friday, I realized a dread. This is the time of year when school bus drivers give emergency evacuation talks to their passengers. I am sure a lot of school bus drivers have heard the moans and complaints when starting an emergency evacuation talk. Here is a sample of my ending comment to my high schoolers. “Passengers, you may get tired of repeated evacuation talks. I cannot stress enough the need to have an emergency action plan for whatever, whenever or wherever an emergency may happen. How can I say the right words to get my passengers to listen, remember and be able to apply what I have shared, when needed ? Much of the information, from the evac talks, can be applied in other situations. What can I say to get my passengers to realize how important evac talks are and how important preparedness is ? ” I used to love evac talks, until Shawn’s fire happened. Did I fail Shawn ??? I could have told him how much of a gut grind I had about the security bars on the basement windows. Why didn’t I say more ??? Why didn’t I ask Shawn how security bars are removed during an emergency ??? Would Shawn be alive, today, had I been more persistent ??? So, my dread is that I haven’t communicated thoroughly to my passengers about emergency action planning. I know I couldn’t handle it if one of them was in a emergency situation and didn’t know what to do because I was slack with my responsibility ? Here is a clip, from you-tube regarding evacuation procedures: http://youtu.be/WoJNh72S-zQ