The drive isn't bad, but the smells can kill you

There's really nothing difficult about driving a bus. Get in, crank it up, back up, turn around, go forward, dodge dogs, open door, close door, give Little Johnny the "evil eye," speed up, slow down, turn around again, turn on lights, focus on highway and not on Little Emily singing "The Hokey Pokey," pull brake, let the kiddoes out, park the bus, then do it all again in eight hours. Piece of cake!

But there is one thing about bus driving that some drivers can never get used to -- the smells.

Body odor is a shocker -- especially on a hot day when the kids are just coming in from the playground. I've seen grown men cry like babies at just the thought of it. No wonder the teachers are happy to see their students leave at the end of the day.

Cigarette smoke is never good -- especially in the mornings when Little Johnny gets on the bus and smells as if he just smoked a pack of Virginia Slims.

Skunks and cow pastures are the next big nostril openers, but us guys who drive in the country are pretty used to those smells.

But there is one smell I don't think I'll ever get used to. It's the smell of bacon and eggs and pancakes with maple syrup on a kid who just had a good breakfast -- and the only thing I have waiting for me back at the bus barn is a cold pop tart.

When I smell breakfast on a kid, my stomach starts to turn back flips and I can actually hear it yelling, "Stop the bus and go see if those parents will fix you a plate. Do it now, or you'll be sorry!"

I don't think parents have a clue how hard it is for bus drivers to concentrate on the road when they send their children to the bus reeking of French toast, powdered sugar and chocolate milk.

So, to all you parents, there's only one way to keep us bus drivers focused on our job and not on scrambled eggs and hot steaming cups of coffee: Every now and then, send us out a couple of sizzling slices of hickory-smoked bacon or a sausage link or two. Your child's safety is worth it.


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