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An Exceptional Bus Driver

June 23, 2010

photo by Arvind Balaraman

As my youngest daughter just boarded her school bus for the second to last time this school year, she handed her bus driver, Al, a thank you card. My kids have been riding the public school bus for 10 years now and we have always given their drivers a “thank you” at the end of the year. But it has never been as heartfelt as it was this morning.

This bus driver really made me appreciate how little things can make such a big difference in a child’s life. Every morning Al would say a cheerful “good morning” to my daughter, stating her first name. I’m assuming he said this to every child. He would also smile and wave to me. Writing this out, it sounds almost silly to even consider this to be exceptional. However, this is the first time in 10 years that any of my children have been greeted by name by their bus driver. Such a simple act, but I know it made a big difference in my daughter’s day.

This year my daughter’s school had a competition among all the school bus routes for best behavior. It’s no surprise that Al’s bus won. My daughter actually looked forward to riding the bus, and this is for a ride that took well over 30 minutes that if driven directly would only take about 5 minutes. Not only did Al know the children, he also engaged them in guessing games and other conversations while driving his route. He really became a “person” to my daughter and not just a mode of transportation. When he was out sick for a while, she was really concerned.

Have you had any similar experiences with people involved in your child’s life? Maybe it’s a store clerk or someone you pass regularly in the neighborhood. Who are the people who do the little things that make a big difference? Can you find a way to express your appreciation?


54 Comments leave one →
  1. June 23, 2010 9:35 am

    It’s very touching when people can be so thoughtful. Seems like a dying trait in American culture, one that would be nice to have back. Seems like it’s not all dead yet. -j.p.

  2. June 23, 2010 9:43 am

    Thank you for such a heart warming and lovely post. Al sounds like a very warm man. 🙂 I love stories like this, I try to be aware enough to see these sorts of things in my own world each day… because I believe stories like this are a part of everyone’s reality…. we just have to be aware enough to receive the blessings and kindness that are usually right in front of us. So glad you saw and so glad you shared. 🙂

    Thank you,

  3. June 23, 2010 9:46 am

    What a great post.
    A great man doing an extraordinary job.
    What more can we hope to do in life but make a difference in others life.
    In Afrikaans the translation in English for Hello is “I see you”, I always felt that is the greatest compliment,to be recognized.
    That is what this man was giving these children,your little girl everyday, you matter, I see you.

  4. June 23, 2010 9:50 am

    such a wonderful mail… Al is a living proof – sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to achieve, even if it is just to pass a smile, or voice a child’s name in the morning. Thanks… you made me smile tonight. Thumbs up for Al.

  5. June 23, 2010 10:25 am

    Your daughter is so lucky and Al is so kind.
    I had to take school bus for almost 9 years. My bus driver was okay, but he seemed not to be ‘somebody’ to me or the rest of the kids.. 😦

  6. June 23, 2010 10:59 am

    I going to buy the bus driver a card tomorrow after reading this. And feeling guilty that I haven’t yet in the past!

    Thank you very much.

  7. June 23, 2010 11:13 am

    These are very special people. Our children are fortunate when they encounter them, as are we. A lovely story.

  8. June 23, 2010 11:33 am

    Wow what a touching story. Sounds like you really lucked out this year with a great driver! I love that you ALWAYS give them a thank you card…so classy.

    • July 2, 2010 10:24 am

      We used to always make christmas cards and treats for my bus drivers around the holidays. It was a fun tradition

  9. jcasta permalink
    June 23, 2010 11:43 am

    It’s funny to think about the times that I would ride the bus to school. Granted, I only rode the bus for one school year of my life. It is amazing to think that all it takes is one single act to both bring one down but to lighten the spirit as well. Thank you for sharing that story with us.

  10. June 23, 2010 12:23 pm

    touching. really.

  11. June 23, 2010 12:24 pm

    I am more concerned about the fact that simple things like these, which ought to have happened in the normal course, are becoming so rare that we are amazed when they do happen. Al greeting your daughter, doctors talking to patients/patients parties, officials talking to help seekers: these are routes of communications which are closing up fast.

    I must congratulate you on the fact that not only do you have Al, but also realize the goodness that is Al.

    Great post. Loved the blog. Subscribing to it now!

  12. June 23, 2010 12:37 pm

    Al seems like a fantastic role model, one who really loves his job and children. I had a bus driver named Penny, she was so nice and would talk to us stuff I can’t remember now…She would at times give everyone those $0.05 candy, too. Penny made us feel safe and wanted. Not as if we were a bus load of rowdy, mischievous children.

  13. June 23, 2010 12:39 pm

    It’s great to hear about excellent staff at schools. And I’m sure he appreciated that thank you note from your daughter!

  14. June 23, 2010 12:41 pm

    Good article.. thanks for sharing this experience!

    Its amazing how simple and sweet little gestures make a huge difference.. kids and grown-ups alike! As ‘Al’ proved it.. it doesn’t take a lot of effort either! I have memories of my school days.. when the bus driver used to wish the kid sister of one of my bus-mates every morning when he used to pick us up.. that was sweet!

  15. June 23, 2010 1:08 pm

    Gloria drove our bus in middle school. She scared me. She scared every sixth grader on the first day of school. I think we deserved it though.

  16. June 23, 2010 1:08 pm

    There’s a local restaruant that we like to go to and not necessarily because it has the best food although it is very good. No, we like to go there because they just really take the time to look after you and always go out of their way for my children. Great post!

  17. agardenfriend permalink
    June 23, 2010 1:28 pm

    I loved my children’s bus driver, Mary. She was the safest driver in her company and knew each child as well as the parents. I wrote a letter of appreciation to her company to be included in her file. I still remember the first day of Kindergarten for my son, she welcomed him and reassured us that he would be fine. Although he’s now in college, she continues to drive her route with morning smiles and safe passengers. She is the best.

  18. June 23, 2010 1:47 pm

    It’s nice to hear about a job well done in any line of work.
    However, you should stop giving thank you cards – it puts pressure on the rest of us. 🙂

  19. June 23, 2010 1:53 pm

    I suppose coming from a small town, it’s not surprising that we all knew the bus drivers, knew their habits, knew that Margaret demanded silence when she was speaking, that Sam had a whistle that could pierce any level of noise, that Tim was laid back and loved to hear jokes, or any number of other things that haven’t faded in the 8 years since I’ve ridden the schoolbus.

    It means so much to have a bus driver who cares, who knows your name, who tries to make life a little more fun. And it’s so rarely appreciated.

  20. Andrea permalink
    June 23, 2010 2:10 pm

    I had a bus driver like that too. She was so nice. I gave her a cross stitch bear I made in frist grade. She was at my wedding in 2003. She never forgot me or my sister. I am so glad that there are other drivers like her.

  21. blackwatertown permalink
    June 23, 2010 2:11 pm

    What a great bus driver. Shame his behaviour is so exceptional.

  22. alastor993 permalink
    June 23, 2010 2:19 pm

    Thank you for this lovely post. I’m a teacher and I try to be a “person” too haha. You should know that the kids on the bus also made Al’s day!

  23. June 23, 2010 2:21 pm

    It’s funny how the school bus starts out as such a fun and safe setting for children to socialize with their friends. Then by high school, it erodes into the catacombs of socio-economic labeling and becomes as torturous as staring at the sun.

  24. June 23, 2010 2:31 pm

    Thanks for the positive note. We’re all so concerned about buying the perfect, most expensive, most impressive gift for people all the time that we forget it really is just the simple things. Such as remembering a name. That’s the type of thing we carry in our pockets forever. Oh, and our kids do, too. 😉

  25. June 23, 2010 2:43 pm

    Very uplifting. I wish there were more people like Al. Honestly, I’d like to send him a thank-you card myself!

  26. June 23, 2010 3:44 pm

    Nice post. We need more people, not only like the driver, but like you, who teach your children how to show appreciation and respect. Those cards thank you cards were a wonderful idea.

  27. Paulus Nuunyango permalink
    June 23, 2010 4:10 pm

    This is really a good story, better even a great life story. Just goes to show that people that have developed a lifestyle to be honored, just make this world worth living in.

  28. June 23, 2010 4:57 pm

    I grew up in a small community and so my brothers and I knew our bus drivers well before starting school. We always had a good time on the bus, one driver we had for a while let us decorate her bus on the route for seasons and holidays (obviously, safety wasn’t a large concern!) and another driver would treat us with candy at the end of the week if you were well behaved all week. Thank you for bringing back such great memories today! And congrats on making Freshly Pressed!!!!


  29. deezahoney permalink
    June 23, 2010 6:39 pm

    I had a wonderful bus driver in my elementary school days – Mr. Stroup! Two decades later, I still remember him well. I sometimes wonder if he’s still there, driving the same route.

    Thanks for reminding me of him!

  30. mistereason permalink
    June 23, 2010 6:43 pm

    Very interesting and heart-warming! I mentioned your post in a post on my blog here: Not many people read the blog yet as I just started it but maybe it’ll start to gain some traffic.

  31. June 23, 2010 9:16 pm

    Kudos to you for raising polite and courteous children. The card and appreciation is a delightful touch often overlooked in today’s society.

  32. June 23, 2010 10:04 pm

    What a lovely post. I didn’t think things like that still happened in America. People seem to be more withdrawn these days, less willing to interact with each other. As an example, after moving to Ireland a few years ago, I was stunned at how often a stranger on the street would offer a smile and a friendly “good morning.” I’ve even had random, wonderful conversations with strangers on the bus. When attempting the same courtesy here in America, I rarely even get eye contact unless it’s to give me the “why is this crazy person talking to me” look.

    Keep up the positive posts! 🙂


  33. addidesu permalink
    June 23, 2010 11:09 pm

    When I was small, I had many bus drivers…but I remember one that stayed with us for 3 months. He looked like Earnest (the movie character, y’know, from films like “Earnest Saves Christmas”). And he was just as quirky.

    He would always make the morning bus commute enjoyable, saying things like “WE’RE GOING INTO HYPER-SPEED, KIDS. FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS!” and when we’d laugh and say there were no seatbelts, he’d respond, “YOWZA! SOMEONE HAS STOLEN OUR SEATBELTS!”

    I was sad that he only stayed for a short while, but every morning became an adventure with him.

  34. June 24, 2010 12:57 am

    Good driver.You lucky.

  35. Songbird permalink
    June 24, 2010 1:47 am

    Al… a great everyday hero! Lovely story.

  36. June 24, 2010 2:46 am


    Gonna track back to this, hope you don’t mind!

  37. June 24, 2010 4:25 am

    Gotta love that when someone can greet you with a smile and even remember your name.
    You know grocery stores, use to go out of there way to try and remember your name and greet you. Now they have this person at Wal-Mart that stares at you like your a zoombie! I am glad your daughter and family for the last 10 years has had a great experience with a bus driver! Hopefully they will learn to greet people with a smile…it goes a long way doesn’t it! Thanks for sharing.


  38. June 24, 2010 4:29 am

    It is all fun and games until someone crashes a bus…

    Now, I have not even driven a car since I got my license, so I cannot speak for the dangers, or lack thereof, based on personal knowledge. However, I still find it noteworthy that I have often seen signs along the lines of “Please, do not talk to the driver while underway.” in busses. That he “engaged them in guessing games and other conversations while driving his route” could have a flip side—as is so often the case.

    • June 26, 2010 11:23 pm

      This post is poignant. It is inspiring to realize that amidst the hassle and bustle of today’s world, there are people like Al and your family who continue to live out the virtue of appreciation.
      Thanks for sharing this post.

  39. June 24, 2010 6:53 am

    thans for great sharing

  40. June 24, 2010 8:14 am

    Great post. Very good for the soul to read that. Post more similar as I can always do with smiles…

  41. drcuneo permalink*
    June 24, 2010 8:30 am

    All I can say is, “WOW!” Thank you so much for the tremendous response to this post. I’m truly honored that so many of you had such positive memories from your own experiences reawakened, were touched by the human spirit, and/or were moved in some way to express gratitude to someone. Thank you to those who linked to me in their own blogs. I appreciate it. And as for michaeleriksson’s comment about driving safety, it is true that driver’s need to pay attention to the road while driving, but I don’t think that prohibits conversation, and I can tell you that there were no safety incidents on the bus this year.

  42. June 24, 2010 8:44 am

    such a beautiful post! i’m so thankful for those who go above and beyond.

  43. June 24, 2010 8:46 am

    This post. GMH.

  44. Mr.Saeed permalink
    June 24, 2010 9:27 am

    Thank you
    for such a heart warming and lovely post.Could you visit my blog and read my posts .Then give me your opininon .I feel you are good writer and can get benefit from each other .

  45. June 24, 2010 2:17 pm

    its very touchy post, thoughts are beautiful

  46. June 25, 2010 8:17 am

    This may sound strange but it is the strange and different that seemed very important to me as a child of a broken home. For many years I saw the same man on the same corner every morning before school. Without fail this older gentleman would dance on the corner with his old radio and a big ol’ smile on his face.
    In a life full of uncertainly I was able to find continuity from the dancer on the corner of College Avenue. After high school I moved away from the city and was gone for many years. One day when I came back I was stopped at the light on College and saw this now very aged gentleman slowly approach a bench at the light with his radio. He sat the radio down, turned it on and started dancing. I’ll tell ya it was a wonderful “welcome home” present to see the cities favorite street corner dancer smiling and moving to generations old music.
    What a wonderful “misfit” he was. I thank him for the smiles and for showing up rain or shine in the life of a kid who needed one reliable thing.

  47. June 29, 2010 9:12 am

    thanks drcuneo

  48. amarjandu permalink
    July 1, 2010 1:25 am

    Thats really thoughtful of him, people like this make me look forward to meeting people in public places.


  1. Why I Want to Teach « MisterEason's New Teacher Blog
  2. An Exceptional Bus Driver (via Drcuneo’s Blog) « Andre DiCioccio
  3. Sometimes It’s the Little Things « Drcuneo's Blog
  4. 2010 in review « Drcuneo's Blog

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