So this week, I am a route driver.
I’ve been a route driver periodically during my lifetime in the bus business.
To tell the truth, I’ve forgotten what it means to be a route driver.
Subbing is one kind of stressful thing. Route driving is a different kind of stress. I find that if I don’t sub or drive a route periodically, I forget the stressors.
Not the obvious ones, of course. It’s always stressful to deal with loading and unloading kids and worrying about people failing to obey the stop arm. It’s always important to manage student behavior – and tough to predict in what way student management skills will be tested. It’s also tricky to function in troubling traffic situations. Those things affect all drivers.
When subbing a route, knowing where to go and what to expect creates a new stressor. As the person responsible for planning and choosing bus stops, I have additional stress when I find out that drivers are doing things they ought not. Trust me when I say, we work on that problem EVERY DAY! Sub drivers often have to explain to parents why they are there, why they are not perfectly on schedule, and where the regular driver is.
When driving a route permanently, there are additional responsibilities. I have to KNOW my students. I have to KNOW my route (following a route map/instructions after a couple days is NOT okay). I have to BE ON TIME at ALL TIMES. I have to be accountable to the people meeting the bus, whether parents or school staff. I have to be presentable, efficient, professional, and happy at all times. I have to forget the other things calling my attention, and focus solely on driving the route. I have to plan my seating arrangement, and deal with change requests from parents. I have to be driver, friend, parent, responsible adult, nurse – and not get too involved in inappropriate ways with my students. And I need to do all this – and this is particular to me – knowing I will not continue to be the route driver; I have to prepare my students for their new driver too.
Yes, route driving is a different ball of wax. I’m so very, very glad I get to do it now and then.