Today marks the last day of school. This year, my first year as a school bus driver was an adventurous time.

For much of my bus driving career, I was a cover driver. I would fill in for other drivers when they were absent. I found this to be challenging, nerve-wracking and fun. Once I got the hang of the capabilities of Google Maps on my phone, pre-programming my route into my phone, and saving it for easy access in case I had to do that run again, I really came to enjoy the panic of readying for a route that I have never done and discovering new places, different schools, and thousands of other children.

As a cover driver, I was never assigned my own bus but used what was available. I must have driven at least half of all the buses in the Orangeville yard if not more. I had saved over 80 routes onto my phone but only started doing that halfway through the year. Before, I would create the run and then delete it right after. Saving the routes saved a lot of time in my preparation. In my busiest month, I travelled nearly 8,000 kilometres!

As a cover driver, I was always asked why I had never taken my own route. One reason I would answer was that I thought I would get bored doing the same routine daily. On the other hand, I knew having the same bus each day would be better because I could keep my stuff on the same bus and not lose anything. I did acknowledge that having consistent times each day would be helpful; Charlene and I would know when I would leave and when I would be back.

I would continuously debate the merits of being a cover driver, the fun/stress of a new run every day, and the steady reliability of the same route. I kept a list of my favourite routes in case I decided to settle down.

Then it happened.

I am given a route with the instruction that I would remain on this until otherwise told. This had happened twice before, and I would be on the route for two or three weeks. I have stayed on this one route for over two months now. A special needs route. It is a small, simple run that has had some challenges. But the biggest thing is the kids. Unlike being a cover driver, where I might be on a particular route only once, I am now on this bus route daily, and I have had the benefit of getting to know the kids. On this route, I saw some milestones that kids achieved and celebrated with them, their teachers and their parents; I got to hear about birthday plans, trips, extensive talks on donuts, Spiderman, how mosquitoes are the most hated animal around and how awful it must be to be a mosquito. I learned their likes and dislikes and plans for the future. I can see why so many people enjoy their routes and the kids they drive daily.

I hope to get this route again in September. It is a real benefit to watch these little ones grow, learn, and develop into the potential they hold. If not, I will return to being a cover driver in hopes of finding another route to get to know the children, even if it is only for a few minutes each day.


Summer Road Trip

Today is the day I have planned for on our summer road trip since January. With only hours away, I am packed and waiting for Charlene to finish work.   This summer, we head to the East Coast. I started to build the itinerary months ago…

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