The other day, I was reading some of the things which are no longer in vogue or even permitted. I well remember my dad who always tipped his hat to women he passed on the sidewalk. You don’t see guys tipping their caps to women these days, and if they did it would probably be looked at as sexual harassment. Another thing I learned was that up until 1988 teenagers were allowed to drive school buses.
I was a school bus driver at the age of sixteen and drove it for two years. In the fall, those of us who were designated drivers went to the lot where the buses were stored. Our instructions were simple. The instructor showed us how the gears worked. We drove around the lot one time, and then took the bus home. You don’t think the story ends there though, do you?
The buses had what is called a “governor” on the engine to keep us from driving them too fast. Of course the first thing I did was find the biggest hill around Charlotte, NC and get that yellow booger going as fast as it would go down hill, pop the clutch, throw it into low gear and let the clutch out. The engine screamed, and the “governor” went flying off into history. Then, as soon as I got it home, I siphoned two gallons out of the gas tank. Those two gallons went into our 1939 Packard. We filled the buses up once a week at a designated filling station. The mechanics could never figure out why MY bus never got as much mileage over the road as the other buses. It always took two more gallons than all the other buses.
I was the Captain of my school bus and we ran a tight ship. OSHA would never approve of the seating in those things. There were no side by side seats. A long row, or “cushioned bench” ran along each side, with one right down the middle. The kids had nothing to hold onto and a quick stop or start would get them sliding.
I had two runs, one to pick up kids for the elementary school, and when I dumped them off, I made a run to pick up students who went to my high school. But everyone followed the “Captain’s” rules. No horseplay. No grab ass. Sit down, shut up and don’t annoy the Captain. Only occasionally did riders, usually the younger ones, disobey the rules and they paid dearly for it. If someone raised the ire of the Captain, I sharply whipped the bus to the side of the country road and stopped. I pulled the lever that unlocked the rear emergency door, and out they went. Rain or shine, hot or cold, if they broke the rules, they were deposited on the side of the road and the bus continued its assigned duties.
I also ran a tight schedule. If riders were not standing and waiting when the bus arrived at their stop, too bad. I often left them running down the driveway as the bus faded in the distance.The next day they would be sure to be waiting when the bus arrived. When you are the Captain, your crew must follow strict discipline. I’ve often thought that if politicians ran the country like I ran my school bus, we’d not only be in much better shape – but there would always be gas in the family’s automobile.