I last blogged December 3,2019. We were preparing for Christmas, the lights were up, anticipation was high and families were meeting and greeting from all parts of the country. Fast forward and to-day we’re living in a different world, a world of COVID-19, a virus that spreads rapidly, causing side effects of social distancing, economic turmoil, government bailouts, locked borders and shopping for essentials only. We are all trying to live our lives in a constantly changing environment.
I stopped blogging in December because I had applied to be a school bus driver and anticipated my days filled with training with no time to blog.
For weeks I had been driving by the local school bus depot, reading the sign proclaiming ‘ school bus drivers wanted’. On a whim I answered the call and was accepted into their training program. I thought this would entail full time training for at least six hours a day. However, they did not employ full time trainers. All trainers take special courses in training but are regular school bus drivers and train between driving their routes. In my case this was compounded by my local school bus depot having no certified trainers and so trainers came from out of district, over an hours drive away. My daily training hours were from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
My first trainer sat me in the office for a couple of days watching DVD’s and answering a serious of written questions on the contents. I was then assigned a different trainer. Instead of DVD’s he daringly allowed me to drive the school bus around the local suburbs. This went well, with the exception of me not allowing for basketball nets overhanging the road. But a quick warning from the driver allowed me to maneuver past this hazard. Three days later I sat quietly in the cafeteria awaiting my 10:00 a.m. training session. I waited till 11:00 a.m. the trainer never showed. I spoke to the manager who phoned the trainer, but no answer. I shrugged my shoulders and asked for his number so I could text him, which I did as soon as I arrived home. He answered the next morning offering no reason for his absence but setting up another appointment. Things went well for the next three days and then he said he had a doctors appointment the following day and couldn’t make the session. This pattern was repeated, a couple of training days followed by a sick day.
He then went sick for a couple of days and eventually texted for me to meet him at his district school bus depot, an hours drive. When I arrived he was pacing frantically up and down the side of his school bus, head down and dragging on a cigarette. I walked up to him, took one look at his face and said ‘ you look like you should still be in your sick bed, are you sure you want to do this’ and he started sobbing. I asked what was wrong and he couldn’t respond, just shaking his head and throwing his hands in the air. I persisted and eventually coaxed him into talking. He related that he was not sick but had personal problems. I drew him out over an hour’s intermittent conversation, and a couple of hugs, and he detailed his personal problems. He looked very suicidal and I was trying to coax him into coming home with me. I would provide lunch and supper and someone to talk to. He declined and eventually went home without scheduling the next training session. I suggested strongly that he needed to speak to his manager to see what help was available from the company.
Not hearing from him for a week I emailed my manager and related my experiences with the trainer over the last few weeks. She was surprised at my comments. But not as surprised as me because I had assumed there was a periodic feed back loop between trainer and manager to see how I was progressing. She assigned me another trainer. This trainer lacked basic communication skills and talked to me like a parent to child, and I was constantly irritated by her manner. I could write another dozen paragraphs describing this aspect of the training but I have already gone on longer than I intended.
Three days after being assigned this trainer, I woke up, had breakfast, reached for my phone and cancelled my next appointment. I then emailed the manager my reasons for wanting to quit the job.
So my dreams of being a school bus driver have been shattered and I am very relieved.
Since this experience I have been heavy into the politics of Twitter. Tweeting a few hours a day, thinking I should go on WordPress, but finding no inspiration. I finally kicked myself into gear, got back on the saddle and told myself to sit at the computer and write something. This is the result.