Just prior to Thanksgiving week I get a panic phone call from Lena the Cortez Transportation Director.
As they say in Yorkshire, “There’s trouble up at mill lad” ! It seems that 2 of the regular drivers have
had enough!!

Driver No 1 had a fight on his bus between elementary boys and after stopping the bus and breaking
up the fight the father of one of these children claimed the driver used “unreasonable force” whatever
that might have been!  The driver said he won’t drive that route again, and who can blame him.

Driver No 2  was a caregiver to a little old lady and other than his school bus driving lived with her rent
free, did all her shopping and cooking, and attended to her every need. She unfortunately died in
October and now with settlement of wills, probate and the selling of the home Ben found himself
homeless and unable to sustain life as a single man on just a bus driver’s pay and was therefore
forced to resign.

I have now taken over Ben’s route which was the last one to receive a “new” bus. The School District purchased three new Thomas buses last year and they were numbered 44,45, and 46. 44 and 45 are
71 seaters and were pressed into service straight away while we waited for 46, a 65 seater to arrive.

The two new 71 seaters arrive

Two weeks into driving the “new” bus and it is quite delightful with all its new bells and whistles. A
couple of “gotchas” It has auto lights like the Cadilac so you must remember to turn them on for
normal daylight driving and another one is the door switch. The switch is 3 position, open, closed and
a sneaky little mid position. Should it be in the mid selection then when you operate the warning
ambers you get the red stops instead and some very surprized motorists!!

This one’s mine…….. Number 46, well hello Valentino !

The engine compartment is much better than most with all liquid containers, power steering, coolant
and windscreen washer all of a “see through” type so no more dipping fingers in holes and wrestling
with caps. Worst thing about the bus which surprized me is a huge blind spot on the driver’s left side
with the upright pillar and the two huge mirrors.

Clear view power steering

you can see the coolant and this one is red

What you can’t see!

The 71 seaters have heated driver’s seats whereas mine doesn’t,  extra flashers in the grille, ejection
seat handle flashes on the bumper, and the bigger buses also have a “forced” walk through system
whereby you can’t leave any sleeping child on the bus by not doing your post trip walkthrough.  From
the time you remove the ignition key you have 30 secs to get to the back of the bus and hit the door
switch or every bell, light, warner and horn will go off!! Mine doesn’t have this feature either.

Worst thing about having a new bus is every time that a major activity comes up then it gets stolen
or allocated to the activity and you end up driving an old spare. This can be bloody annoying as we
HAVE two purpose designed activity touring buses sitting waiting!!

Nice tour buses!!…. don’t keep pinching mine.

Some time ago a gentleman in AZ who had just been to Laguna Seca gave me a Rossi hat, not that
I ever wear baseball caps (ever) but as it was a very expensive souvenir of the race I accepted. I
suppose I could wear it on the last day of school with some antlers as well?…….. time to get out my
CD of the Winchester Cathedral Choir and give the children a blasting of Christmas carols.

Valentino in Christmas spirit

This isn’t going to happen again! (ever)


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