Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Worst Day of my Life

Easily, hands-down.
Not giving birth to Kyle (took days and then over 4 years to decide to try it again), not when Kyle broke his leg or when Amanda broke her arm (a very ugly incident - 3 hospitals & several days - she has more enthusiasm than skill at gymnastics).
They were calling for freezing rain yesterday at noon. This was forecasted on Monday afternoon, but we took children to school. It started at noon, nearly on the stroke of the bell. The roads became treacherous very quickly. This may have been aggravated by a lack of pro-active salting/sanding - but what do I know. Maybe they didn't know about the freezing rain. My high school run went well. Yeah, this is where it all starts going wrong. I was driving in 1st gear - not braking and on
ly accelerating to get up the next hill - and was still slipping and swaying. The kids at the front could tell something was up (my emphatic demands for silence were the biggest clue). Then I couldn't go any further and started going backwards. I managed to stop the slide safely and there we sat. The time was 4:05. The two way radio to our base office was crazy - drivers stuck and/or in a ditch all over the place. I used my cell phone and told them where I was and was told that a sand truck would be out as soon as the township could arrange it. Still nothing.
Then a bus stopped up at the top of the hill in front of me. All that I could think was "OMG - pleeeeaaaase do not try to come down & past me!!" He didn't - and we sat in our respective buses looking at each other. I had over
20 children at this point (they look all innocent in the picture - it's a clever ruse - they saw the camera). Mercifully none of them started crying or freaking out. That is not to say that they sat quietly and let me do my knitting. Boys bored out of their minds torturing me with a skill that terrorists could learn from. "Can we order pizza?" "Can't you just gun it?" "Can I get out and walk?" "What time is it?"(x 75,208) "I gotta go!!" I couldn't let them off of the bus so the boys stood on the bottom step and peed out while we all looked away and the girls squatted just outside the door (yeah, they really had to go). For the most part they were really good. I had my knitting, but didn't get a lot done because I had to keep looking up to see what dumb-ass kid-shit how they were amusing themselves and ask them to settle down, take it easy and/or play nice. A few did homework - I love them.
Time kept passing - my throbbing head, growling stomach and the clock said so. And it's not like I could lose track of time, what with someone asking every 8 minutes or so.
Around this time parents started showing up - I nearly cried with relief. The noise level was working on my last nerve - not that they were screaming & yelling, but the chatter of that many children in a bus for 2+ hours was too much. A very nice neighbour brought granola bars & drinking boxes for the children - Thank You Tom O'Leary!!
All this time I had to keep my foot on the driving brake as the parking brake was not holding the bus on the icy incline.
Parents kept coming - they were literally sliding down the road. It was so slippery that it was a challenge to get to the bus. They all were smart enough to park at the top of the hill and not try to drive down.
I saw a sander coming in my rear view mirror and then I saw him going in my rear view mirror. Base couldn't tell me when they might come back and everything was seriously fucked up. All of the graders, sanders & plows were out and trying to get to all of the buses as quickly as possible, but there are a lot of roads out there. And we all know that these vehicles are not built for speed.
Longer story short.
PM - 3 kids left, grader came with a sander behind him.
9:10PM - under way
9:35PM - dropped off last children at their house
10:13PM - parked bus in yard (which was a thick sheet of ice), walked slid to my van and managed to get safely out of the skating rink bus yard.

I started feeling emotional after the last child was off of the bus. By the time I got to my van & home I was a blubbering mess. There were still 2 buses out after me, but they were un-stuck and on their way home. Kyle took good care of Amanda (he's really very responsible when the chips are down), but I worried about them, keeping my own bus on the road, keeping the children calm and reassured, worrying about all of the other drivers and their kids ... I take these things to heart and once my kids were safely home I just let go. Mercifully the buses were cancelled today - I'm using the day to try and sort my head out.
Apparently the Patron Saint of bus drivers is St. Christopher. I'm not really a patron saint kind of gal, but everyone from Northstar Alliston (to the best of my knowledge) got home safe yesterday and I certainly feel watched over.
And maybe I'm just slow, but I still like driving a bus!


  1. How freakin' scary it must have been to drive in that shitty weather. I had problems walking to Owen's school which is a stones throw away from my house -- literally. I'm glad everyone is safe and that you had today to recoup. {{hug}}

  2. Wow, what a day!
    I am really glad everybody got home safe, and I have to tell you, snow and ice are some of the reason I am living in California, I would not last one winter!

  3. What a terrible dilemma! My hat's off to you Wannietta; all those kids in such a small space. I don't know how you do it day after day, especially in bad weather.

    But, I had to laugh out loud when I thought about those poor little kiddies who had to squat outside or pee out the door. So funny!

    So glad everyone made it home safe & sound.

  4. Oh, I feel for you! What an incredibly rotten experience - and it was up to you to be the non-panicking, responsible adult. Well handled, and when you got home you certainly deserved some shivering weepies and a hot cocoa with whatever you want to add.

    And - I hereby apologize to you, as I cannot say sorry to my former school bus driver, for any sh!t I may have gotten up to while on the bus. Hanging my head in shame.

  5. That's horrid! Glad to hear everything was ok in the end but what a thing to have to go through. I hope you don't experience anything like that again....ever!

  6. Anonymous6:32 PM

    What a log awful day! Thank God you were just stuck and not in a ditch somewhere. My hubby's a school bus driver and there have been times it's been tough going because they didn't call off school for the day. Hope you're going to spend your day off with your feet up knitting

  7. flash backs to The Ice storm in Milton, remember. The day I made a pair of socks. We were pretty bad too in Milton. (At least we weren't in the Orangeville fiasco. Lots of drivers didn't get home till around 2200hrs. You're a total professional, Thank you God for the abiltiy to knit. Did you get suckered into "I spy"? I truly hate that game. Whoever invented that should be shot. Why do they always choose yellow and white? a.k.a bus and snow and/or ice?

  8. How, you poor thing! I'm so glad you and everyone else are okay. I *hate* ice - driving in it or walking in it!

  9. That would be, **Ohh,** you poor thing!