Tag Archives: transportation

Memory Lane In a School Bus

I would encourage you to pick up a copy of my book Life Lessons from the School Bus. There you can find some of the stories posted earlier today, plus a lot more (really, there’s a lot more content).

However, being this is my last day as a school bus driver (going to pastor full-time in Georgia), I now want to share some of my favorite photos from my bus-driving years, including some from today. I only wish I’d thought to take more when I first started doing this back in 2001.

I know this will be as boring as a vacation slide show, but maybe you’ll find some of the pics amusing.

Listen to the song, first 😁The School Bus Man Can

The man. The Legend.

I first started driving for Durham in Chattanooga in August of ’07. However, I started driving a school bus in August of 2001 in Christian County, KY. I don’t have any pictures from those days.

One of my favorite pictures taken by my daughter, Katie. This should have been the cover of my book.

Driving at night in the rain can be dangerous, especially with all the reflections. Notice the reflection of the gas station all the way across the parking lot to my right – reflected in the window, NOT the mirror to my left!

I officially drove a total of 3 routes during my 10 years with Durham School Services. First, I drove 370 for two days. Then I drove 369 for a couple of years. Finally, I drove 374 until the time I had shoulder surgery and left. However, 374 went through 4 different bus models during that time. This one had a Mercedes engine.

Hey, it was St. Patrick’s Day! Give me a break!

The bus. The Legend.

There were times that I had plenty of time on field trips to study for a sermon. But that’s what it’s like when one is bi-vocational – you study when you can.

One day when my bus sprang a coolant leak. This was the view from the passenger’s seat of a BIG tow truck. At least it had air conditioning 🙂

Literally, this was the closest thing I ever came to an accident that was my fault. No damage, just stuck. I got complacent turning into my own driveway and wasn’t paying attention. The student doors were so close to the ground that they wouldn’t open.

The only way to get in and out of the bus was through the side emergency exit with a step stool! LOL

If you haven’t bought one, you should 🙂

Book signing at Barnes & Noble.

My book at Barnes & Noble – in the comedy section!

“Bobble Head” Phil rode with me for years. He usually sat facing the kids (which some didn’t like).

Phil stuck with me through thick and thin, even waving down traffic when I was broken down.

Former drivers Chris (370), Joseph (369), and me at McDonalds. We always stopped either their or Hardee’s for coffee and biscuits in between our morning routes.

The last day of school (I forget what year) we went to Cracker Barrel. Here is Chris (370), a driver from New Orleans, Jean (369), and myself…I should have tucked in my shirt.

Driving a bus in the snow in Tennessee is more rare than a total solar eclipse or hen’s teeth. But it actually happened to me at least twice in 10 years.

 

This is where I would pull the bus into the driveway of the parsonage of Riverside Baptist in order to wash it. That was my old Cadillac, “The Ride.”

On the first day we got nugget I took him for a ride on my bus – with kids on the bus (this was when I was driving 369).

Our little dog, Nugget, would love to run out and meet me in the mornings after parking my bus.

Stress relief 🙂

A view of the pond on Shanty Lake Road from inside my bus on the last day of school (the bus was stopped).

The very same view as above, but as the sun is coming up in January. God is a beautiful artist, isn’t He?

My final lineup at Lookout Valley Middle/High.

Looking down towards Lookout Valley and the Tennessee River from the Cummings Highway bridge – yes, a bridge.

I was giving myself a thumbs up, but the driver I was training nearly took me off the side of a mountain that very same day!

Hot day on the lot as a driver trainer. All day on the asphalt in between my own routes.

My last day (in December 2017) before shoulder surgery, and my last day officially working for Durham.

I took this picture when I was coloring with children of family members of the children killed in the Woodmore accident. Everyone in the room at Erlanger Hospital was waiting to hear if a particular boy survived – he didn’t. He was one of the 6 who died. I was there as a police chaplain that night, and the best thing I could find to do was distract the other children with coloring.

This was the first day I started driving a bus again – after nearly a year! I went to work with Chattanooga Bus Company and my former manager at Durham, Dominic D’Amico. I couldn’t decide if I was happy or not 😉

This was my bus I drove when I finally got back to work this last school year (after my heart attack) and had a route. I called this bus “Spinal Tap” because of the number “11,” but hardly anyone got the joke.

This was taken the first year I was a “park out” driver. I prayed over every seat and asked God to use me in some way to make a difference in the live of the children I transported. He did. At least 7 came to Christ over the years!

My last-ever pre-trip log sheet (nothing digital this time).

The last bus cockpit I’ll officially sit behind.

 

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“I Ain’t Got No Man In My Life”

Context is everything

Just suppose you heard a beautiful and talented 27-year-old female bemoan, “I ain’t got no man in my life.” Now, consider that the woman saying these words was a bride-to-be on the television show Married at First Sight.

Would you feel sorry for her? Or, would you do as I have done and raise your voice to the screen of your television and say, “You’re only 27!”

For the record, my wife (and a couple of men I know) watch Married at First Sight, but I can’t stand that show.

But what if it were little boys who said, “I ain’t got no man in my life”?

Friday Conversation

On Friday, as I was transporting a bus load of children to their homes, I happened to ask the kids behind me, “Do you know what today is?”

“It’s Friday!” answered a young boy to my right.

“And what does that mean?” I asked.

“That means you ain’t got a job tomorrow, or the next day. . . You don’t get to work till Monday.”

“Well,” I responded, “that’s not exactly true. I have weddings to do tomorrow, and then on Sunday I preach at church, so I will be working every day.”

“Preaching ain’t work!” one boy replied. “Yeah,” said another, “preaching ain’t a job!”

“Well, they pay me to be their pastor at the church where I preach,” I said.

“Then if you get paid, I guess it’s a job,” replied one of the boys.

It is illegal for me to take pictures of children on the school bus, but there’s nothing illegal about me submitting an accurate and detailed artistic rendering, is there?

Who’s Your Daddy?

One of the boys behind me then said, “My pastor is my daddy,” to which I replied, “That’s cool!”

“Well, I mean, he ain’t really my daddy,” the 3rd grader said, “but my mamma told me I could call him Daddy.”

I nodded my head, looked in the student mirror above me, and replied, “OK, I guess that’s a good thing.”

That’s when this young boy said, “I ain’t got no man in my life.”

To which the two boys to my right and behind me said with a matter-of-fact tone, “I ain’t got no man in my life, either,” and “I ain’t got no daddy.”

My heart broke.

I held up my right hand and put my thumb and forefinger almost together and said, “Well, then, maybe I can be your ‘mini’ daddy on the bus.”

The little boy behind me then exclaimed, “Yeah! You could be my bus driver daddy!”

Making Application

As soon as the boy behind me told me I could be his “bus driver daddy,” the following words immediately – I mean immediately – came to mind . . . “A father to the fatherless.”

Now, when I began to think of the verse from which those words came, I had in my mind James 1:27, which described what “true religion” is:

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, [and] to keep himself unspotted from the world.

“To visit the fatherless” wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, but it was close. I took the extra step to dig into the word “visit” and there I found that it means (my paraphrase): “to look at something with the intention of doing something.”

But then I found the source verse which takes the whole thought to a higher level. There, in Psalm 68:5, the Psalmist refers to God as . . . you guessed it . . . a “father to the fatherless.”

Therefore, when we allow God to use us, He can place us where our faith – our religion – can be “worked out” for the benefit of those in need. Pure religion, the real thing, is not simply a formulaic system of do’s and don’t’s that make us look holy; it’s an outworking of the character of God through us to those who need to know the love of God, their Abba Father.

HE’s the man they really need in their lives!

Remember this: For the Christian, there are are no “secular” jobs; every job is holy . . . every job is an opportunity for ministry. 

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Messin’ Wid Widdle Minds

Would-be Actual Grandpa

Now that I’m actually a grandfather, I have more of a right to act like one. You know, the kind of old guy that says what he wants to say when he wants to say it, then blames others for not understanding his wisdom. Yeah, that’s me –  I’m an up-and-coming old codger.

DSC_1390Grandfathers are also notorious/famous for telling tall tales, embellishing the facts, and leaving grand kids confused about actual historical events. Of course, the point of those stories is to keep a kid’s attention for more than 30 seconds; the straight truth can be boring at times.

So, now that I’m a real grandpa, I have a right to act like one on the school bus. It keeps me entertained.

The Conversation

Many times on Facebook I share short little conversations I’ve had with children on the bus (they say the darnedest things, you know). However, today I’m skipping Facebook and going straight to the blog with a conversation I had a while back.

I’m sure all of you are gonna hate me after you read this.

Me: Good morning.

5th Grade Boy: Good morning.

Me: How are you feeling today? You holding up?

Boy: What? Yeah, I’m ok. Why?

Me: I mean, it must be pretty hard; I heard the bad news.

Boy: What bad news?

Me: About your goldfish dying.

Boy: What? I don’t have a fish. At least not anymore. I haven’t had a fish in a long time.

Me: So it died.

Boy: I don’t know. I guess.

Me: Well I’m proud of you for taking it so well.

Boy: Uh, OK.

Me: And I heard about your cat, too. That was horrible.

Boy: Huh? What about my cat? Nothing happened to the cat.

Me: Well, I heard it died in a horrible freak lawnmower accident. I know that must be hard on you.

Boy: What? My cat didn’t die in a lawnmower accident! He just ran away.

Me: OK. If that’s what they tell you. You believe that.

         (temporary silence)

Boy: Guess what!? (says the boy to another kid in a seat beside him) I had a cat die in a freak lawnmower accident! Cool, huh??

I pity my grandchildren, don’t you?

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“The Worst Field Trip Guide”

It’s Wednesday, so here’s a funny yet instructional snippet from my book Life Lessons from the School Bus. Even though I can’t drive right now, I can still share a little wisdom from the good old days 😉

One day I transported 80 kindergartners on a field trip to a mountain forest. Do you have any idea how loud 80 excited 5 year-olds can get when confined in a 40ft.-long steel box on wheels?

Teacher Talk

I couldn’t help overhear the advice school teachers were giving to the little crumb crunchers on the bus, then later after they unloaded. One warned, “Don’t pick anything up from the ground; you won’t be able to keep it, anyway.” Another said, “Don’t bounce on the swinging bridge; just look over the side.” Seriously? How can you tell a 5 year-old not to jump on a swinging bridge and then expect him not to jump on the swinging bridge?

SIDE NOTE: I remember when our oldest daughter, Alicia, who was around 12 or 13 at the time, went with me to visit the old capital building in Frankfort, Kentucky. In that old landmark is a genuine floating staircase on which Alicia decided to jump up and down. I asked, “What are you doing?” She calmly replied, “Trying to see if it will fall.” I said, “Two things…First, it’s been here since 1827 and hasn’t fallen, yet you think your scrawny self is going to break it? Second, why would you want to be on it if you could make it fall?”

Anyway… the best piece of advice from the teachers was clear enough: “Do NOT get off the trail!” But again, honestly, how many kids actually listen to instructions that make sense? I mean, you take a child that’s never been out of the suburbs to a forest with plants taller than their apartment buildings and you expect them not to run amuck? Therefore, I decided to speak up and add some clarification to the teachers’ warning. I said, “Because if you get off the trail, we might have to send the DOGS after you.”

Who knew one little girl was afraid of dogs? I didn’t! …Cry baby.

Bad Advice

So, that got me to thinking: what would be the worst advice to give 80 children before a trip into the woods?

  • photo 3 (4)Don’t worry about your lunch box; the forest is full of pretty berries.
  • As long as the animal is smaller than you, go ahead and pet it. It won’t mind.
  • Hey, bounce on the swinging bridge! It’s just like a trampoline.
  • Of course! Rules are meant to be broken.
  • Bears? What bears? This is Tennessee, kid. We don’t have bears. You’re thinking of Chicago.
  • I don’t care what your mom said, poison oak is a hoax. Don’t your parents have oak furniture? Does it make you itch? See, she lied.
  • Who can get closest to the edge? Let’s find out.
  • Whatever you do, don’t stay on the trail. Trails are for babies.
  • Snakes are overrated, misunderstood jump ropes. They want you to play with them.

 

Life Lesson

Thankfully, when it comes to the wilderness of life, there is One who always gives good advice.

In his famous Psalm 23, David wrote, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” God urges us to stay on the path that He has already walked, which is why Jesus said in Matthew 4:19, “Follow me.”

He knows the difference between good fruit and the forbidden kind.

Route Suggestions

  • Don’t give vague instructions to children; they need specifics.
  • Go check out the old capital building in Frankfort, Kentucky – but don’t jump on the staircase.
  • Never get to the point where you are too proud to listen to instructions or advice. For example, you may have been down this road before, but your tour guide has been down it more recently. There may have been some changes of which you are unaware, like a washed out bridge or recently released bears. Oh my!
  • Read Psalm 23. Was David walking alone? How could this Psalm relate to your life?

Now, go order the book! 

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Kissing Deer and Talking Sharks

True story…

One morning a few years back (in 2013), as the first elementary children entered my bus, one child said to another, “Granny said to sit down!” Evidently, Granny had been giving some instruction on the way to the bus stop.

Teaching wisdom, one child at a time. Teaching wisdom, one child at a time.

As we started to pull away from the stop, I glanced back to my right and saw the youngest little girl standing, along with the grandmother scowling and pointing a finger from the sidewalk. “You shouldn’t be standing,” I said, “especially if your granny said not to.”

Then, after a 2-minute story of what this little kindergartner did for her birthday, I proceeded to share with the rest of the children and her what other things they shouldn’t do. Why did I do this? I don’t know, but it was certainly interesting to here their responses.

Things You Shouldn’t Do

  • Don’t eat worms with syrup. No matter what, they don’t taste like spaghetti.
    • “I did. They taste like chicken! And they’re slippery!”
  • Don’t ever kiss a deer on the lips.
    • One girl asked, “Why not?” Another answered, “Because it might want to go out on a date with you, and deer won’t fit in a car.”
    • “I saw a video where a guy made a deer mad because he took its picture.”
  • Never take a picture of a deer until you know it has makeup on and its hair done.
  • Never take a deer, or especially a moose, out to dinner on a date.
    • “Why not?” asked one girl. “Because a moose won’t fit into your car, for sure, and they won’t serve a moose at a restaurant!” said another. I said, “And a moose has no table manners and can’t use a fork,” to which a little girl replied, “that would be a mess.”
  • Never, ever, lick a cheese grater.
    • “Why not?”
  • If a bear comes up to you and asks, “Can I scratch your back?” say, “NO!”
    • “What if it wants to drive your car?”
  • If you are ever walking by the water, and a fish sticks it head out of the water to talk and says, “Hey, come over here,” don’t.
    • “Why?”
    • “Iffa shark eva stick it head outta da watah un say, ‘C’mere, I wanna tell you somp’n,‘ DON’T DO IT!”

Wisdom

Really, it is amazing how children can show practical wisdom, even when they have no experience. All some kids know is that if it ain’t natural, like a shark trying to start up a conversation, then run away.

However, as we grow older and “wiser,” the things that used to be so simple grow more complicated. We desire the forbidden pleasures Granny used to warn us about, along with every other experience a liberated mind can dream up. We date the moose and schedule tickle fests with grizzly bears.

But in a day when men and women pride themselves in experience and boast in the knowledge gained from sin, Wisdom cries out like the little old granny from the street, “Listen to me! I’m warning you!

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” declares the Psalmist (111:10). But fools, captivated by the unnatural, politically-correct, whatever-makes-me-happy talking shark, jump into the water.

Too bad real wisdom gets left on the bus.

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Filed under Culture Wars, current events, Defending Traditional Marriage, General Observations, Humor, Life Lessons, wisdom

Blind Leading the Blind (A Life Lesson)

It’s been over a year since I drove a school bus, but there’s a strong possibility that I will once again be getting behind the wheel very soon. I would appreciate your prayers regarding this situation.

In the meantime, here is a true story of something that happened nearly 10 years ago, along with a little advice.

And remember, you can find a lot more stories from my school bus days in my little book, Life Lessons from the School Bus.”  


 

“Blind Leading the Blind”

Do you know what a “small bus” is? Maybe you know it as the “short bus.” Either way, it is a bus on which the physically and mentally handicapped ride to school. Fun, fun, fun.

One day I was filling in on what was called a “Special Needs” route. Being that I was not familiar with where all the stops were, it would have helped to have someone on board, like an attendant, to give me directions.  You see, even though drivers are supposed to write out directions, the ones that get left for the sub drivers aren’t always up-to-date. Attendants regularly help with the “rights and lefts.”

Oh, I’m sorry! You need to know what an “attendant” is, don’t you?

Usually, on all “Special Ed” routes, there is what is called an “attendant.” This is the person who rides along to watch the kids in the back, making sure they stay seated and buckled in, ensuring their safety. However, many times the attendant’s job consists of being cursed, spit on, puked on, drooled on, kicked, and even looked at “funny.”

Anyway, I did not have an attendant this special (pun intended) day. I had a list of directions, but they were pretty vague. I might has well been driving blind, cause I was totally in the dark. I needed a little help. Then, I pick up my first student…maybe she could help me?  Nope….she was blind.

Me: Good morning. How are you doing?

Girl: I am doing great! You don’t sound like our regular driver. You filling in for him?

Me: Yeah, and I wish he had left better directions to get where we need to go. I wish I had some help.

Girl: Don’t worry, I’ll keep you on track. (EXCUSE ME!!)

Me: (Puzzled) What are you going to do, whack me on the back of the head with that stick? (Yes, I said it.)

“Life Lesson”

When the “blind lead the blind,” nobody gets picked up; nobody rides; and the Destination is never reached.

Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. – Matthew 15:14 KJV

Teachers of the Word, be mindful of your doctrine…

Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. – 1 Timothy 4:16 NKJV

Followers of the Word, be mindful of your teachers…

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. – 2 Peter 2:1 KJV

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Hiding In Plain Sight

Back in 2010 (Sept. 14th, to be specific) I wrote a post that later became the basis for a story in my book, Life Lessons from the School Bus. If you don’t yet have a copy (you can order one), the following story, “Stop #13,” can be found on pages 45-46.

I am no longer a school bus driver, but the truth of this story remains the same: Sometimes bad things can hide in plain sight.

The Story

As you can see in the picture, a typical school bus has two mirrors immediately to the left of the driver window (besides the convex mirror below). With mirrors everywhere, driving is made much safer and easier, even in heavy traffic. What you don’t see is what is on the other side of the mirrors.

(This picture at the very spot an accident could have taken place.)

I was beginning to exit a gas station directly across the street from another station, and a Hardee’s. I looked in every direction and checked my mirrors. Then, as I started to pull out, an 18-wheeler appeared out of nowhere…directly in front of me! It had been hiding behind the mirrors.

Take a look at the picture. Right behind the top mirror sat a Peterbilt. I never saw it. What saved me was taking my time and being cautious. Had I rushed on forward I may have pulled right into the path of that big truck. Only going slow and expecting the unexpected made the difference.

The Lesson

So many tragedies in life could be avoided if only we would take the time to “consider our ways.”

“Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways” (Haggai 1:5 KJV).

Do we stop to think about where we are going? Do we take the time to make sure there is nothing hidden behind the obvious? Sometimes our judgment can be clouded by the determination to move forward with our plans. Wisdom understands that the Enemy loves to capitalize on things hidden.

For example, how many people have fallen into financial ruin because they rushed into a business deal or bought something too expensive? Many times there are dangers lurking in the fine print or hidden in words we don’t take time to understand. Even though the path may look clear, it never hurts to take one more look before proceeding.

Ironically, big dangers can hide behind the very things meant to point them out.

Route Suggestions

The following are a few suggestions to help you navigate the route of life:

  • Never get too comfortable behind the wheel.
  • Never make quick assumptions based on past experiences.
  • Never let someone rush you into making an uninformed decision.
  • Read Psalm 119:105…”Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” How important is it to have a light when driving down a dark and unfamiliar road? Where does this verse say we can find light for the road of life?

The road of life can be a dangerous place, dear reader. Why not follow the One who not only knows the way but IS the Way?

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