Last night, it started snowing. While not being an unsual event around these parts, the unusual part was that it had waited to snow until now. It’s not unheard of for us to get a dusting in Oct and certainly by my birthday in November, the ground will be covered at least once or twice with the white stuff. For whatever reason, we had been spared so far and all of us were getting pretty excited about it. Particularly, me.
As I’ve said before, snow is horrible, awful, cold stuff that sucks the energy and life out of me. If I have to leave the house, I often view it as an evil nemesis, plotting me & my vehicle’s demise. My opinion hasn’t changed and with my return to bus driving, the plot has thickened.
I’d be a bold face liar if I tried to tell you I wasn’t a little apprehensive about taking that 40 foot cheeze machine loaded with little lives down the slippery snow covered roads again. It’s been 4 yrs since I’ve had to tackle that challenge and unfortunately, my brain remembered all too well how far your heart sinks when you feel the tail end of your bus fishtailing behind you. It’s not so much the fear of people on the bus getting hurt as it is about how much stuff you’re capable of taking out! Managing to keep your bus and your swears under control at the same time is a gigantic task. One that I’ve been out of practice of for 4 years.
A phone call at 5:35am took care of that. Not unexpected. The worse the weather, the more likely for a regular driver to say ‘skip this, I’m going back to bed’. Onto the shoulders of a sub driver comes the responsibility (and the fear). Nothing like driving a run you don’t know when the roads are crap!
Driving to work, I kept thinking how much this was going to suck. The run that they’d assigned me to was one that I’d never driven before but I knew it took me out on the borders of the district. Busy streets, a bus that I was unfamiliar with, slick roads and snow covered road signs were going to be my surroundings for the next 3hrs. I could almost feel my nerves going crazy and I braced myself for the tears that must inevitably follow a morning such as this.
I pre-tripped my bus like I have to and then got the route sheet. I had given myself time to at least look on the big map the high school and middle school routes. A basic idea of where I’d be heading. I climbed into the bus and took a deep breath. Whether I was ready or not, it was time to roll out.
I headed out to the road and as I drove, I realized I was ok. No, the kids didn’t have a chance in hell of getting to school on time and once I realized that, there was a certain freedom I acquired. It was actually liberating. I’d get them there safely and that was the best I could do on a morning like this. Even while driving through white outs, I felt a peace.
I think a lot of kids, especially the middle school kids, gave up on me and went home. That’s how late I was. But the kids that I did pick up, were happy that I was late. They were polite and encouraged me to drive slower so they missed more school. It was actually a very low stress drive and I’m glad to have the season’s first drive on snow done with. Still, I’m wishing for a dry winter