Of high school students and buses…

When I announced that I would be driving a high school run, I was met with many negative comments.
“Be ready to write loads of bus reports!”
“Don’t bother putting up your decorations, they’ll just rip them all down!”
“I hated driving high schoolers!”
So I was naturally a bit apprehensive going into my first run. I figured, start as you mean to continue, so I had my fall decorations all up for the first day of school – big leaf cutouts across the back, and leafy garlands across the roof.
On the first day of school, nothing happened. A few kids said good morning, not many. But no one touched my decorations.
On the second day of school I stood up before leaving the high school stop and turned to face the kids. They all looked at me, like, oh no, here she goes, reading the riot act of rules. I gave them the following speech, more or less.

“For those of you who missed it yesterday, my name is Sue and I will be your driver for the rest of the year. I will try to learn all of your names, so starting tomorrow, you have to tell me your names as you get on, please. Now, I could stand here and lecture you about all the rules we have on the bus, but I figure, you’re high school students – you’re nearly adults, so I would prefer to talk to you with the respect I would give any other adult. So instead of rules, I have several requests to make of you.
First, I really don’t like profanity. So if you feel the need to cuss someone out, be it your mother, father, teacher, principal or ex, please do it outside the bus. Because if I hear you doing it, I will have to say something, and then you’ll cuss me out, and I’ll have you kicked off the bus, and I really don’t want to be doing that this year!”

Several students laughed. I took that as a good omen.

“My second request deals with food. I could stand here and tell you you’re not allowed to eat or drink on the bus, but the reality is, you’re teenagers, and teenagers eat constantly. Actually, let me re-phrase that – teenage boys eat constantly. Teenage girls forget to eat.”

More smiles and laughs.

“So if you really must eat on the bus, I would like to be sure that you are aware that it could be dangerous. If some idiot pulls out in front of me and I have to brake hard, you could choke. If you still choose to eat on the bus, I would ask that you have enough respect for me to put your garbage in the garbage can at the front of the bus. I am not your maid. Do those sound like fair requests?”

With few exceptions, all the kids nodded or mumbled, ‘Yes’.
“Good,” I said, “Then I think we’ll have a good year!” And I sat down and drove them to school.

That was a week ago. So far, knock on wood, I have not picked up a single piece of garbage on the bus, nor have I heard a single curse word, and my lovely decorations remain untouched. I’m impressed. Whether with them, or with me, I’m  not sure…but I’m impressed.

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