Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sgt. Thomas: Better Man & Bus Driver than I

Sgt. Thomas is a Vietnam War Vet and a good friend of mine at APS Transportation.  From my perspective of things, Sergeant has a very strong and gruff personality.  Now, there's no doubt that he is prior service and he tends to shoot things straight with no sugar-coating.  He can come off as not friendly, which is far from the truth, because he speaks to anyone in passing.  If I was a small child, I would find him tall and intimidating that ate little children for supper.  He loves to use this perspective to maintain control on the bus, because at the end of the day, it's the job of the driver to get a child home safely and not be their friend.

Anyways, Sgt. Thomas had the unlucky mishap of getting his bus stuck on ice in the snowstorm, so I was nearby and picked him and his students up. Yes, he came on the bus towering over kids and I.  He commanded the children to sit down before we departed.  It was silent on the bus! I am not sure if it was due to the fact that Sgt. Thomas presence domineering or the simple reality that the kids were freezing.  Either way, it was quiet ride.

Well, I had my students on the bus along with Sgt. Thomas's students and prior to the merger, my kids were getting on my nerves!  Kids were arguing, telling me to go down roads, which I came close to getting stuck on,  one child refused to sit down, and, I (in spirit-only) was ready tell all the kids to get off and walk home!

We arrived at this one stop with a hill that I did not want to risk going up and I told Sergeant, "I am not going down that rode, your kid going to have to walk."   I was thinking that the Vietnam Vet who probably slept months in the jungle with rain and snow would've said something like "tough love,  a little bit of snow would "man-him-up" a bit."  No, he chose to walk the young lad to his house in a quarter mile of snow and ice.  As he walked away with the child the whole militaristic persona left me and I saw the image of a father walking his son home from school.  Even the toughest of heart have compassion despite what others may believe.

Sergeant would once again step up to the plate and walk another child home, who I did not like because the student gave me "lip & attitude" and the student lived up a mountain and deserved to walk it in my opinion, but Sgt. Thomas would not have it and walked the child home to make sure the student arrived home safely.  Yes,  he is a better man than I, but yet this is the family I work with and I am glad to call them home away from away.

Disclaimers:  First,  I love story format, so the names used are not actually the drivers names in order to protect their identity. With that in mind and without taking away the true heart of the driver, I may even change up a few details.  Second, There are hundreds of bus drivers that work for Atlanta Public Schools, so the stories I share are the ones that I personally witnessed or heard, but I am certain that there are many more stories to be told of drivers bravery and commitment to get these children home safe. 

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