The Madness of Riding the School Bus

For those who have attended public school at some point in their lives, it was hard to avoid riding the school bus. Even if you were picked up and brought home by a parent every day of the year, you still had to get on that bus for field trips or some extracurricular activities.

Many people hated the school bus: waiting forever when it was late, worrying about missing it, putting up with immature kids doing any number of odd things, being stuck on the bus in the boiling heat or the freezing cold, and getting stuck on the bus when it happened to break down on the road.

But the school bus was always interesting. Some days, getting on the school bus and watching everyone was like being the live audience of a sitcom or a soap opera. There was the kid who drew all over the seats in permanent marker, the guy who threw his soda out the window and splashed it all over the side of the bus, the guy who flung a firecracker out the window and almost hit a passing car, the girls who got into a catfight, the tearful breakups, that couple in the back who always made out, the kid who’d kick the back of your seat, and the bus driver who drove right along the route – utterly oblivious to the chaos going on behind her.

Kudos to the bus drivers. You put up with so much – and you deserve to be paid a whole lot more.
And kudos to all those strange people who made me laugh (and irritated me to no end) during those years of public school.

So… do you have any school bus stories? 🙂

17 thoughts on “The Madness of Riding the School Bus

  1. My old bus driver got out of the bus one day to cuss out a guy whose truck was blocking the street. Turns out it wasn’t even that guy’s truck, but he certainly did run fast to find the vehicle’s owner. That day we learned not to cross the bus driver.

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  2. I remember, lo, many years ago, in the black and white days, starting school… a school that was only 5 or 6 blocks from my home (perhaps less).

    I was excruciatingly shy. All of the kids in my class used the school bus, but me. I would hide in the bushes until the bus left, so as not to be embarrassed.

    Little kids inhabit their own peculiar hell.

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    • As they say, every stage of life is hard for different reasons. I was real shy as a kid (still am to some degree) and the bus was good because I could become invisible within the chaos.

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  3. You brought it all back, Maggie! I mostly enjoyed riding the bus. Our bus stop had lots of kids from the neighborhood ~ we almost filled up the bus!

    We had wonderful bus drivers too . . . especially for the kindergartners.

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    • When I was in kindergarten, I had the nicest bus driver. She brought a cassette player on the bus and played songs for the kids. It was cute.

      I’ve never had a bus driver who was genuinely mean… just drivers that nobody wanted to provoke because they “looked” mean.

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  4. Hi Maggie

    Well my grandest moment of riding the school bus happened while attending a suburban school outside of Philadelphia during my high school years (1970 – 1974). I was a transplant from a rather “bad neighborhood” in the city of Philadelphia and living with my aunt and uncle in the suburbs. And during my 12th grade, my school was shut down for a week for race riots. One day, after that week, and to my surprise, as I was riding the bus, (we were picking up students from another small African American neighborhood), an old “gangbanger” from my old Philly neighborhood got on the bus. I was very surprised nonetheless. He had a reputation that did not correlate with being interested in school at all. We recogonized one another, and I asked him what was he doing here. He said he was forced to come, and that he was quite prepared, as he lifted his shirt and revealed to me a firearm. I laughed and said to him, “that I did not think that would be necessary here, we’re not in Philly any longer, we’re in Kansas.

    So that is my school bus story……..

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      • A British kid at the school I went to in Trinidad brought a sword his great (or greater perhaps) grandfather had used in battle. The very tip of the blade evidently had come off in somebody. I remember the teacher running her hand along the flat of the blade that had once slain one or more souls, remarking how it was a fine sword. Imagine what would happen if you brought a sword to show-and-tell in America.

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        • All hell would break loose for sure – especially due to the zero-tolerance policy we have on weapons. I understand they’re trying to make school safe, but a lot of the time, it feels like overkill.

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  5. I never rode a school bus. We don’t have them in NYC, but we do have the subway, and pretty much all of the activities you mention could be seen there, so I guess it’s not that different after all.

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  6. I never had to ride an American school bus until my junior year because I walked to school for the two years I had previously spent in America. I had a peculiar arrangement in London in which the same taxi driver would pick me up and then I would transfer for a lengthy bus ride. In Maryland I walked. In Trinidad I took something called a maxi taxi, which was basically a minibus. Instead of a general bus stop, the driver of the maxi taxi would drive to the house of each student, and if he took too long getting out the door (or out of bed even!), he would be left behind. One of the drivers was called Jesse James (I’m pretty sure that was his name, not just a nickname the kids gave him) and when the kids asked him to go faster he would speed up. In Germany I was going to an International School. The bus driver was a German who would take notice of misbehavior and yell at us over the speaker in German with his thick accent. I couldn’t speak good German and so had difficulty understanding him (as did the other kids). The coolest thing he ever did is play the harmonica on a special occasion while driving.

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    • That’s how it was when I rode the bus. If you weren’t out of the house within a few seconds, you’d be left behind. Harmonica! That sounds cool!

      Thanks for visiting and thanks for your comments. 🙂

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