An ulcer paid for with tax dollars

By Mir
August 31, 2006

My fellow Americans, you have certain inalienable rights which somebody once found to be self-evident. You have the right to bitch about gas prices while driving a Hummer (with or without a bumper sticker that reads, “Honk if you think I have a small penis!”). You have the right to complain about being fat while eating french fries.

You have the right to pay inflated property taxes to live in the town with the “good” public schools and then find yourself on the phone with the bus garage trying to remain calm while you demand to know WHERE YOUR CHILDREN ARE.

God bless our great country.

So. Um. Funny story! The bus hit a rift in the space-time continuum on the way home, today. Otherwise known as a substitute bus driver. And the thing is, you know, stuff happens. I understand that. But there is not enough STUFF that is permissible in the HAPPENS category to excuse the big yellow child transporter for an HOUR past drop-off time.

At first, I kept peering outside. A truck went by and I was sure it was the bus pulling up; but it wasn’t. Finally, about 10 minutes after they should’ve appeared, I went outside to wait. I ran into my new-ish neighbor who was also waiting for her son.

Fifty minutes is a long time to stand on the street corner with someone you really don’t know and make smalltalk.

At five minutes:
“Oh, yeah, I forgot to tell you! Sometimes they’re a little late on Thursdays, because they have a sub. I’m sure they’ll be here any minute.”

At fifteen minutes:
“So. It’s really been cooling off, huh?”

At half an hour:
“Are you liking it here, on the unfashionable side of town? Have you dealt with any of the old New England blood yet?”

At forty-five minutes:
“Okay, um, I’m starting to get worried. No, actually, I’m starting to have morbid fantasies about the bus being in an accident.”

At fifty minutes:
“I’m calling the garage. They had better HOPE that bus crashed.”

The nice lady at the bus garage put me on hold and while I waited for her to return, the bus pulled up. I continued holding, however. When she finally came back, I let her know that the kids had, in fact, turned up in one piece. She was relieved, because GUESS WHAT? She’d been unable to get the bus driver on the radio.

One hour late, and not answering pages. Yes, PLEASE DRIVE MY KIDS AROUND. I enjoy the warm, fuzzy feeling of rampant fear and homicidal urges. Thank you, rogue bus driver!

They were fine, of course. Well, other than REALLY NEEDING TO PEE, because an hour and a half on the bus when you live TEN MINUTES FROM SCHOOL is hard on little bladders. And Monkey was once again starving, because (this happened yesterday, as well) the twenty-minute lunch time is five minutes of getting into the cafeteria, ten minutes at the table, and five minutes of getting back to the classroom. If you are six, those ten minutes at the table is just enough time to extract the little straw from the wrapping that binds it to the back of your juice box. And boy cannot live by Juicy Juice alone.

(Chickadee has, of course, already perfected the art of the lunch sprint. She can hoover up a surprising amount of food in almost no time at all. Perhaps she can train her brother.)

The children recovered quickly. It turns out that rice krispie treats are a pretty good panacea. I’m still a little twitchy, though.


  1. SheBear

    Yikes!! That is all….just yikes!

    Okay, I guess that’s not all….I would have freaked big time. I’m impressed with your coolness….if my children (who are much younger than yours, admittedly) are in another room with a strange adult for longer than it takes to walk across said room, I get twitchy and start imagining all sorts of horrible suspicious things. Yikes….you just nailed my worst nightmare.

    On the plus side, it gives me one more reason to stick with my plan to homeschool….and just when I was starting to feel a teensy bit bad for my firstborn, who watches the schoolbus drive by each morning and fantasizes about someday riding on it…. Weird child.

  2. SheBear

    ….and why do I always add an extra dot to an ellipsis? Oops, I just did it again! At least I’m consistent! :)

  3. Carla Hinkle

    So what the hell happened? Even with a sub bus driver, how does he/she manage an HOUR late???

  4. Suebob

    Gulp. Because, for those of us in California who are of a certain age, “bus kidnapping” is still a fresh memory. If you google it, you will see why. Thank goodness it was a clueless sub.

  5. christy

    Now I’m really worried. I keep hearing/reading about bus mishaps. The world of kindergarten is new to our family this year, and I’ve already been feeling nervous. And bus kidnapping? Oh my goodness. Driving my daughter to school is starting to look better. I can do it. Drive 3 year old to preschool in am, pick up at noon, drive 5 year old to afternoon kindergarten, pick up in pm. Yikes!

  6. Lady M

    Glad that the kids weren’t permanently lost!

    On a totally different topic: Doppelganger ( wrote a few days ago about receiving a thank you letter for her contribution to the Dewey Donation System (books for Katrina-hit libraries) and it was from a Biloxi librarian, Charline Longino.

    Did you happen to be in the same class that had a Mrs. Char Longino as a teacher’s aide? I got the address and plan to drop her a note. Not that she’ll remember me or anything.

  7. Vanda

    The first day my granddaughter rode the bus in kindergarden they drove right past the bus stop. My heavily pregnant DIL was having heart failure.

    BTW that granddaughter become a mummy on the 30th:-)))

  8. Brigitte

    Off the main (scary enough) topic, but . . . they get only 20 minutes for lunch these days? Isn’t the act of scarfing our food in mere seconds one of the leading causes of our obesity epidemic?

  9. rachel

    scary scary scary. glad they got there OK. I admire your restraint and calm.

    And I gotta agree with the earlier commenter – why the short lunch?

  10. chris

    Holy cow that is a long timke to be on a school bus driving around. The bus driver should have asked Chickadee where to go. I’m sure she could have told him.

  11. Amy-Go

    We thankfully live in an area with a neighborhood school. Which means that everyone who attends the school lives in the neighborhood. Which means there is NO BUS. A fact that saddens my children and is like soothing balm on their mother. After this story, I may never move. And considering how I feel about Kansas, that’s saying something!

  12. Lesley

    As always, while the main idea blows right past me, I am impressed by the supporting details of your post. Last week, “Mir took the time to take apart a brand new vacuum instead of just sending it back? Coooool.”

    Today? “Mir knows the number for her kids bus garage? Awesooooome.”

  13. InterstellarLass

    Eek! And just what was the bus driver’s excuse??? Ten minutes is one thing. An hour is beyond rediculous! A bridge was out? Ran out of gas? Good excuses. Blatant stupidity? Not a good excuse. But you have more patience than I. Fifteen minutes and I would have been ringing someone’s ear off and sending out a search party.

  14. Daisy

    Every year the bus is significantly late on the first day. After that, no excuses. At least I don’t consider them valid excuses. We, too, keep the bus company’s phone number on a clipboard near the phone.

  15. Laura

    That does always seem to happen on the first day, but knowing that doesn’t help fend off the panic attacks! My son’s first day of first grade the bus was well over an hour late getting him home, which would have been bad anough if it hadn’t also been my first day home from the hospital with my newborn daughter. I was COMPLETELY rational by the time the bus pulled up…

  16. Karen

    Good thing you weren’t watching “Arthur” this morning — it was the one when Arthur takes the REAL bus to swimming and vanishes, albeit briefly. I can so feel the animated-snoutless-aardvark mom’s anguish when she hears that he never arrived at the pool. All this being said, however, the fact remains that my kids still have ANOTHER WEEK home before school starts. ‘Cause I really don’t watch “Arthur” unless they’re here. Really.

  17. Summer

    Y’know, getting up at 6:30 in order to drive my son to school isn’t looking that bad. On the positive side, at least the bus driver didn’t abandon them somewhere random. That happened to our handyman’s son last week, on his first day of kindergarten. Handyman had to rush away from our kitchen renovation to fetch his five year old, who had missed his bus stop and then was forced off the bus at the last stop on the route. Yeah. The bus driver LEFT A FIVE YEAR OLD on the street, in a part of town nowhere near where the kid lives. A crying five year old, at that. Luckily a mom who was picking up her own kid made a few phone calls, and took the handyman’s kid back to her house to wait for his dad.

    After reading your entry and the comments, I don’t think I ever want my kid riding the bus to school….

  18. Aimee

    (with or without a bumper sticker that reads, “Honk if you think I have a small penis!”).

    — Heh. I just call all gas-guzzling vehicles “Overcompensators” and have done with it.

    I’m so glad the kids are fine, and I would definitely let the bus company and the school have an EARFUL. That’s ridiculous.

  19. Stephanie

    You didn’t snatch that bus driver off the bus by the ear and demand to know what took so long?

  20. Cele

    She bear, an ellipsis (depending on its usage) can have four dots.

    Mir I would have been looking for my skin because it would have crawled off my body at that point.

    Your illustration of the speedy lunch break cracked me up. You go to school, scarf down lunch. Come home and get told to slow down you’re not in a race. Okay I was, but forty years after I needed the excuse, you gave it to me.

    For all those who remember, just recently having gone on vacation with youngsters in the backseat asking every nano second, “Are we there yet?” must have a modicum of sympathy for a substitute bus driver with 40 helpful, backseat drivers. Thanks, I’ll stick to radio.

  21. Jenn2

    OH MY GOOOOD! I applaud you for not climbing onto the bus and tearing the driver a new one. ‘Cause I totally would have done that. Also, I would have been in tears. I’m such the bad ass mommy.

  22. Jenny

    Ummm . . . Just . . . OMG.

  23. Chelle

    Hi Mir, it’s Ra(Chelle) from a board long ago…

    That bus thing happened once with me. Imagine if you will, substitute bus driver, 45 minutes late with no phone/radio contact, no one picking up the phone at the school and the DD on the bus was 5 years old, developmentally delayed and autistic and non-verbal. I was out of my freakin mind with fear and when the twit driver did show up more than an hour late it was all I could do not to choke him till his eyes fell out.

    BTW, love your blog…

  24. Susan

    Oh, Lord! I would’ve been an absolute mess.

    This past summer, the daycare took my 6yo daughter on a field trip 90 MILES AWAY. I had already been nervous enough letting her travel that far on dangerous highways without me…but let me tell you, when that van was an hour late coming home and the driver wasn’t answering her cell phone, the conversation among parents quickly turned from small talk to, “I knew I shouldn’t have let her go today! I just had a bad feeling!” I found myself morbidly picturing us all at one big funeral together, as horrible as that might sound. It was a fear I’ve never felt before.

    Anyway, I’m glad Chickadee and Monkey were okay! I hope your twitching has stopped by now.

  25. dorothy

    I’d be all the way up the chain of command, Mir. Give ’em hell.

  26. Pieces

    I have lived that and it is terrifying. Although, I ended up getting in the car and finding my 7 year old wandering around a mile from our house. I promise you, THAT substitute driver was fired.

  27. Ben

    My boys would have peed all over that bus by the time they got home. And maybe splashed a little on the driver.

    Oh, that is some scary stuff. I’m glad the kids are feeling better…

  28. Juliness

    Holy Cripes! What an extremely scary situation for you. And then having to deal with the late bus too, my God.

    I am with Suebob, that itchy feeling about school buses never really goes away for us Californians. Glad to hear it was only a dumb-ass move on the driver’s part.

  29. Whimspiration

    Wow, Jumping up and down yelling kill. Seriously! I’m glad the kids got home safe. You are still going to report the driver for not having the CB on, yes?

    I usually don’t comment because you speak so eloquently that there is nothing I could possibly add to the conversation, but I had to say something this time. Absolutely outrageous! I subscribe to your feed, have you blogrolled, and read you daily. Thanks for sharing your life with us. *smile*

  30. julie

    Last week the school bus company finally managed to pick up my neighbor’s four-year old, after forgetting her for two weeks. Unfortunately, they dropped her off across town AT THE WRONG SCHOOL!!!!
    I insisted on driving my now twenty-year old to school when she was little, much to her chagrin. But those 15 minutes in the car with her undivided attention are some of our fondest memories. And I always left her at the right school;)

  31. debby

    My daughter doesn’t start school until Wednesday, or else I’d swear we were in the same school district!

    We have a history of bus stories on the first day of school.

    Sixth grade: We had just moved and my daughter was going to a new school where she knew no one.

    2:30 — electricity goes out
    3:20 — school bus is due
    4:00 — find non-electric phone and call trans dept. “We’ll check into it”
    4:30 — call again “she must have gotten on the wrong bus”
    5:00 — call again “what do you mean she’s not home yet?”
    5:30 — call again “wait, seriously, she’s really not home?” (nope, i didn’t panic at all on that one)
    5:35 — send son to attack garage door with tools trying to get it open (no override on garage door opener)
    5:45 — receive phone call from daughter (right as I was going to call the police). she borrowed a cell phone from the electric company guys working near the stopped bus (but the driver couldn’t call the garage?!?!?!?!?)
    5:50 — introduce myself to a neighbor and ask her to drive me to where the bus was stopped
    6:00 — retrieve daughter and deal with snotty bus driver who was upset that I hadn’t come to get her sooner (sorry, the ESP wasn’t working that day!)

    Seventh and Eighth grade were equally interesting. Ninth was uneventful and we’re keeping our fingers crossed for tenth grade.

  32. Shiz

    Too long! Too long!


    Never dealt with school busses. Ne’er. No concept. Ew.

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