My job is rarely dull but today provided much more excitement than I needed. Despite a cold and snowy start the morning was pleasant and I had no reason to expect the afternoon would be any different.
My first route went ok. The kids were acting a bit goofy but not bad. I picked up my shuttle kids early and headed to my elementary school. I ended up with a new shuttle student who had been on the wrong shuttle. New to the district she wasn't sure of her new address so we got that straightened out just as the little kids started boarding. Nothing went right from then on. My two new kids got on and I assigned them seats. The dispatcher was calling me on the radio but I couldn't hear what she wanted because that kids were so loud. I yelled at them and got them quiet and then found that two of us were both trying to use the radio at once, canceling each other out. Meanwhile one of the girls starts screaming because one of the boys stuck his tongue out at her. Then somebody had to tell on somebody else and I'm still trying to answer the radio call. I breathed a sigh of relief when they released the buses and we started rolling.
I get to the light and go right and the new shuttle kid panics because she lives to the left. I reassured her that I'd be going back that way. Make a stop, another right turn and they're calling me on the radio again - the new kid's mother is calling to find out when I'll have her home. Turn the next corner and at the second stop the two new regular kids get off with a group at one of the sitters on the route. I cross that group and release the kids that aren't crossing and catch a glimpse of the two new kids running back down the street! I've got a full bus, I can't get off and chase them down and I have no idea why they're running away. I rolled up even with the sitter's door and start pulling on the air horn. One of the kids came out and I told them I needed the sitter. She finally came out and I explained that the new kids had taken off. It turns out that they live back that way and their mother was home early so the sitter had yelled to them to just go home, but I never saw her stick her head out the door. So they weren't really runaways but it was a scary couple of minutes for me.
Soooo, I'm in the middle of my next turn, onto a busy street and one of the kids screams that Sally just swallowed a quarter! Then somebody else screamed that she couldn't breath. Several kids were now all yelling at once. I got straightened out and looked up in my mirror. I could see Sally and I thought I heard her crying. Before I could get the bus pulled over another kid confirmed that she was breathing. This all happened in less than ten seconds I guess. I radioed in that a child had swallowed a quarter and that I was going directly to her residence. She was upset but otherwise seemed fine when we got there. Now I had other parents calling in because I had driven right by their stops and they were worried about their kids and dispatch needed to confirm that we did not need the ambulance. Everyone got home safely, if a bit late.
I stayed late to fill out an incident report and other drivers stopped in to share their stories with me. I guess I'm glad it was a quarter rather than a key chain or third of a pencil or any of the other items mentioned and I hope none of my kids ever sticks candy up their nose.
It's only Wednesday........