Several years ago, while driving my high school students home after school, a couple of my freshman boys decided to do a little bus driver testing. There are some specific rules that all school bus riders are informed of early in their travels. “No arms, hands, heads out of the windows. No moving or standing while the bus is moving. Keep your voices down and never ever, foul language.”

One of the boys started things (actually accidentally) by sticking his head out of the window to wave at another student walking by. We had not left the school yet so, I wandered back to where he was sitting to explain the rules. The boy sitting next to him decided to make an issue of the situation, even though it was none of his business. He got rather “mouthy” and I asked him for his ID card. He said he didn’t have one. Every student was required to carry one and no one could ride the bus without it. My only choice was to have one of the school aides remove him immediately.

When we have “incidents” such as this on a bus, we are expected to “write the person up.” We fill out a form describing what went on, why , etc, etc! (Definitely not one of the fun things school bus drivers get to do.) Then we turn it in to our supervisor, who handles it from there. Sometimes the driver gets back to the yard late, needs to refuel or many other reasons and doesn’t get to the paperwork immediately. At this moment I don’t remember why, but I held off.

As the next few weeks slipped by, I was glad I had waited. There was a definite change in both boys' attitudes! One morning, as the two of them were getting ready to step off the bus, I asked them to wait until everyone else got off. I told them that I had written them up for causing problems, but I was still holding the paperwork. They were very happy to continue to with the good attitude if I could continue to hold the “write up. “

What I did was sliding the rules a bit, but sometimes good old “common sense” works too!

To add to this story, a couple of weeks ago I met one of the boys while shopping at Fry’s. He recognized me immediately, but it took me a minute. He was dressed in his Air Force uniform and had just completed his second year.

Among the things we talked about was the deal we had made and how it somehow helped get him on the right track. Truthfully, what I did was no more than what I would hope for if the situation was reversed.

Sahuarita resident James Berg is in his eighth year of bus driving grade school and high school students for Sahuarita Unified School District 30. He lived in Seattle, Washington, before retiring and leaving a career in custom home and small commercial building. School bus driving, he says, is “the perfect answer to retirement boredom.”