work


All I would like to have when I arrive at work is decent equipment to do my job. I can’t help what shape the buses are in. Many of the buses on my lot are not in the best shape. Since my last post, there was a huge snowstorm later that week. So, we were out the whole week and a holiday (that next Monday.)

On that Tuesday, we had the challenge of walking on ice and some small snow banks to get to our buses. They had to rearrange the buses because of the huge snow piles that blocked some of the parking spaces. I had the challenge of trying to get out of the lot because my bus was parked in the back and some of my co-workers decided to park however they thought was good for them, which meant that I was blocked in and had to wait about 30 minutes until some folks moved there buses out.

I was very frustrated, and therefore decided to move my bus in a place where it was more convenient for me since they were not strict on us as to where we parked. They were only concerned with if we parked correctly. So, I did this for a few days. But, my assigned bus had a problem. For some reason there was a gradual build up of what smelled like diesel fumes in the front. This primarily affected me and not the students nor the attendant.

I reported this, in writing, for the next couple of days. I mentioned it to my supervisors as well as those who oversee the maintenance of the buses (whom I think are a joke, btw). It got to the point where I could no longer drive the bus because my eyes were watering, lips burning, breathing labored, nausea and heaviness in my chest which feel like it spread to my neck and shoulders. The first day I couldn’t take it, I was able to get a decent bus that didn’t have that issue.

But, the next morning I asked my supervisor about that bus, because I noticed that it was gone when I returned from my route that evening. My supervisor said that it had not been to the shop (smh!) and that the bus was out there. So, I went to the bus, with wishful thinking it was taken care of, and it was not. I sat on the bus a few minutes and it seemed like my body was like “No more!” I started to cough like a choking, gagging type and my eyes started to water again. So, I went back to my supervisor and told him I needed another bus because that bus still had that issue.

So, he gives me this extra long bus, originally for wheel chair passengers, and it only had four seats! I only have for students, so it was ok. But, the bus had a fume issue as well! It wasn’t as bad as my bus, but it was still a problem. So, I just toughed it up and took that bus and completed my route for the day, still feeling sick.

The thing that’s sad about the whole issue is the bus is continued to be passed around. It seems that if the bus is driveable, then they want us to take it. When we are slowly getting sick from these fumes. It could be a quick fix, but the buses that are a priority are the ones that are not running at all. A friend of mine asked me why do they always respond in a reactive way instead of a preventative way? Another friend asked me if maintenance costs are budgeted and if they are, what’s happening with the money? My answer to these questions are “I don’t know!” It makes sense, but that always doesn’t translate in practice.

So, I’ve been out sick since last Thursday. I was feeling so bad, I felt I had to take a few days off to go to the doctor to make sure it wasn’t some serious stuff I was breathing in for a couple of hours a day. Also, I didn’t mention that the diesel fuel that the buses are using now is a cheaper brand, so that’s another reason why I wanted to get checked out.

I went to the doctor’s yesterday and she said I was good as far as my breathing and heart rate, but she didn’t want to expose me to a chest X-Ray as of yet. So, she asked me how I felt and I still wasn’t 100%, so she gave me two more days off and then I should be ok to go back to work this upcoming Thursday if I’m feeling better.

As of today, I feel as if I will be able to go back as scheduled. But, I have a feeling no work has been done to that bus. Unless my supervisor has proof that this bus has been looked at, then I will not drive it. All I am going to do is get sick all over again and I don’t want that. This is the sickest I’ve been in a while. Usually I’ll stay off two days max, but I cannot recall being off more than that. So, I have to go through the process of “reinstatement,” meaning I have to go to the central office of transportation so they can take me off of “long term leave status” or something like that? This is my first time through this, so I will go there tomorrow and take care of that.

Unfortunately, there are more than a few buses with fume problems. It’s very unsafe, but these buses are still on the road and  we are being slowly exposed. I know from all the years I’ve been working around school buses, I’ve been breathing in  too much! It’s a problem that probably can be easily fixed, so I don’t understand the delay. No one should have to go through what I have been going through. All myself and my co-workers want are safe buses to do our job.

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From the afternoon of Feb. 5 to the evening of Feb 6, the mid-Atlantic region has been hit with record breaking snow! I think the highest total in my area is about 30+ inches!

http://www.news8.net/news/stories/0210/703791.html

The majority of area school systems are closed tomorrow (Monday Feb.8) due to the enormous amount of snow and unplowed side streets.

But, then we have DCPS…which is on a two hour delay…yep I said a TWO HOUR DELAY!!!

Are they serious? What about the safety of the kids especially the ones who use special needs transportation? Honestly, when they make these decisions, I don’t think they factor in special needs transportation.

Now, on Friday, when this storm just started to make it’s impact, I was driving on the DC streets and my tires were sliding! I don’t think an inch was even on the ground yet, but the roads were starting to get slick.

In my opinion, many of the DCPS buses are not fit to drive in this weather (let alone a rainy day!)

We had to park our buses in a lot the was a lot bigger than our regular lot. But, they have to dig all those buses out and then drive them to the lots (and clear our lots of 20+ inches of snow!) I’m not sure about how much snow the city of DC got, but I believe it’s probably comparable to the nearby counties.

This is insane. My car is still surrounded by snow and it’s evening. I didn’t plan on going to work anyway, due to the lack of my side street being barely plowed, packed down with ice (because the temperatures today didn’t reach above freezing and are dropping to about 5 to 15 degrees overnight) and even the closest interstate, that I drive to go into the city,  is not completely clear (my friend went out in it and shared this info with me!) Also, the fact I still have to be in to work at 6am, even though there is a delay, will not be possible,. I personally don’t think it’s worth it to risk sliding into someone’s vehicle, someone hitting me, getting stuck, slipping and falling, etc., then go into work and deal with those conditions and with school buses with bald tires! I have good attendance at work, but during this season, I am very cautious and try to use discernment on whether or not to go into work.

The FEDERAL GOVERNMENT is even closed! SMH!

METRO (http://wmata.com/) which most DC school students utilize to get to school, was shut down today and hasn’t made an announcement as of yet to whether or not they will resume their services. They were only running underground trains, but not buses and above ground stations.

I don’t know how DCPS came to make that crazy decision. Their usual excuse is they want the kids to be able to eat breakfast/lunch. But, my question is, how many teachers are going to show up? How many special ed bus drivers are going to show up? Will the kids show up? What do most kids do with a two hour delay? Watch a movie, eat, maybe play in the gym….most of them do little to no work at all. The kids are better off staying home, avoiding unplowed sidewalks or slippery half-plowed street (cause most people walk in the street when the sidewalks aren’t clear) and dealing with a foot of snow covering their metro bus stop.

They may have the downtown DC area cleared out, but I doubt the plows have gotten to all the side streets and by now they are probably packed down with ice on top. I will not be surprised to see parents and kids heading out to the schools. If I had children, I wouldn’t put my kids through that, even though they are probably getting on their parent’s nerves by now! lol

One can only wait and see the outcome….

*edited to add….They made a decision to close the schools for tomorrow. Thank God!*

Wow…it’s a been a little while since I’ve updated my blog. I didn’t realize it was September since I posted. Now it’s a few days after Thanksgiving and a few more days until December!

A lot has changed since the last posting, but the one thing that hasn’t changed is my stance that I took in the last few postings. Discipline is still needed and it should be taken seriously. I’m so glad that I don’t have to deal with those kids anymore, but my heart and prayers go out to those who do have to deal with them and for the kids as well.

So, after I got myself off of the run (with the grace of God assistance) I was a “swing” (substitute) driver for about a month and a half. I met some interesting people and discovered that some people don’t have the same work ethic as I do (not saying I have it all together! lol) But, basically things like being on time is something I have had to deal with!

During that time, I was able to go on a few routes who didn’t have regular drivers. So, I was able to see what was available when the bidding time came up again. This time was actually pushed back several times due to employee complaints (smh!)

So, when they finally had it, there was some chaos and confusion! I personally didn’t prefer the method they used because I don’t think it was fair. In the beginning of the year, some people bid on routes and they didn’t get the school they bid on, but  they decided to still keep that route and they ended up wanting to stay on it. But, because of the bidding process, if they didn’t have the senority to stay there, they would have to go to another route. I think the driver/attendant should have been given a choice to stay on that route (especially if they were doing what they were supposed to do) and so they wouldn’t have to bid again. But, it didn’t work out that way. Some people still ended up with something they didn’t want. Also, I was on two routes (lol) so they let me stay on the first one.

The route that I’m on now has two schools. One school lets in at 7:15am and I pick up one child who lives about 6 minutes (or less) away from the school. He has his moments at times. I can tell that he’s a smart boy that doesn’t get much discipline.

The second school I pick up lets in at 8:30am. The kids all don’t live to far from each other. I’m glad I don’t have to cross any major bridges! They are decent kids. They are five middle schoolers with hormones a-raging! LOL

There are three girls and two boys and two of the girls just tease and flirt with the boys often and the boys just kinda chill and sometimes go back and forth with them….LOL

I’m so grateful to God that even though the beginning of the year was so hard, I was blessed with this route. I have my challenges, but it doesn’t compare to the other group of kids. Now, if I can only stay until the end of the year (without something happening beyond my control) I will be good!

Hopefully, I will update this blog more often.

God Bless!

I’m grieved.

I’ve been through many situations on this route since I last blogged. But, I’m glad to say by the grace of God, I will no longer return to that route.

Here’s a quick update:

After much verbal abuse, fighting, and threats from some of these kids on the bus, it escalated to the point of calling the police because several of the kids were fighting and the attendant (yes there was only one) tried to break it up and he couldn’t handle it. This event happened last Tuesday (9/8/09.)

During this time, the student who started all of the commotion was totally out of control. He spit from the back of the bus (where he was being held by the attendant) to the front (which hit myself, and two other kids) and of course those two kids retaliated by trying to fight him. He also threatened to beat me up and to kill me! The police came, one of them called the boy’s mother and talked to her. It was so funny to me how they tried to act like little angels when the police were on the bus.

But, it didn’t take long for them to act up again after I was on my way to take them to school. The school was notified, but they didn’t take these things seriously. I think they try to weigh too heavily on their disability.

I cannot believe that boy threatened to kill me and since I take that seriously, I went to my manager and told him I could no longer do that route for fear of my safety. These kids also threatened the original attendant that was with me and she was so stressed, she couldn’t do it anymore. We both wrote these kids up several times and also wrote sworn statements telling of how these kids disrespected and threatened us.

My manager was on my side. He knew of the situation from a few meetings before this one. He called the head of investigations for transportation (he had him on speakerphone) and told him (paraphrase)”I have a driver here who just got a death threat from a student.”

The response from this person was (paraphrase)”Well, did she follow such and such procedures?”

Uh…did you just here what the man said? He said death threat! I thought this to myself.

My manager responds (paraphrase) “So you’re gonna let my driver get stabbed in the neck before this kid is removed?” (visibly getting angry)

My manager then picks up the phone and the head of investigations proceeds to ramble on and my manager rolls his eyes and tells him that he is going to call him back. Now, my manager sees the hypocrisy in this situation and wonders if this was a situation where a driver or attendant threatened a child, they would be removed from the route. He also told me that since I felt my life was in danger, he was not going to force me to do this route.

I have not done this route since then. I also went to my doctor and she took my blood pressure. Because I was so stressed out, she wrote me a note to give to my employer requesting me to removed from this route.

Since then, I’ve done other routes, and I thank God that I’m off. It wasn’t going to get any better, because these kids have gotten away with their behavior with little or no disciplinary action against them.

It took me a while to get my thoughts together to write this, but today my supervisor told me that this morning these kids  were fighting once again on the bus, which lead to the the police and ambulance being called, and a student and attendant admitted to the hospital!

I asked my supervisor what is going to be done about it? He said their going to have a meeting about it today.

I’m angry!

After all those write ups, sworn statements, meetings with my manager and union reps, the head of investigations being informed, police calls and now injuries something is being done about this?

I blame transportation (specifically those who knew about it)  for not taking the numerous situations seriously (especially a death threat!) Why did it get to this point before there was some action taken? It just shows me how much some of those who are leaders in this organization value their employees. They just want a job done! I had to protect myself because they wouldn’t have cared if I got injured by one of these kids.

These kids need to know whose the boss and have some consequences for their actions like suspension or being kicked off the bus permanently. DCPS need to have their disciplinary actions in concrete and abide by them.

I blame the parents for not disciplining these (troublemaking) kids (and giving them the proper medication), despite the fact they have a disability, they clearly know right from wrong. They need to be held responsible and take their kids to school (or find some other way of transportation for them) if they cannot obey bus rules.

I blame the school, because when these things were brought to their attention, they didn’t respond in the proper way. We all are supposed to be working together (transportation and school) to make sure these kids get safely to school. Some of the kids who didn’t do anything on the bus (or bothered anyone) have gotten caught up in the mess!

I’m in prayer for the injured persons and hopefully the culprits get the boot from the bus! I know the kids need an education and need to get to school. But when they don’t want to abide by the safety rules and are causing other kids harm, their needs to be another alternative for them.

The 09-’10 (I can’t believe I’m typing that) has started out on a sour note. After the ‘ease’ of summer school, I should have known the “storm was coming!” Some of the challenges I’ve faced since the first day of school are:

*Arriving to work on time, and encountering a long line (almost to the door) just to sign in and receive my trip sheet.

*Receiving a trip sheet only to see that another child has been added (who lives outside of the district) and read that I was supposed to leave 30 minutes ago.

*Asking for a bus (I’m still without one while others have their own) and having to wait around to get one (which makes me later). Also, having to deal with co-workers who steal buses (without reprimand!)

*Finally getting a bus and because they added a new child that lives out of the way of the others (in MD) it takes me an additional hour to get to my ‘regulars.’

*Getting to the ‘regulars’ homes late and my attendant telling me the parents are wondering why we are late (and why we have a different bus everyday?) Also, arriving to the school late since day one.

*Getting cursed out, and disrespected since day one by those who are on this route (there are 8 kids.) I had to actually return a child to his parent  (he hasn’t rode the bus since) because he didn’t want to put on his seat belt and sit by the window. Cursed out myself and my attendant because they are so used to doing what they want, when the rules are laid down, they don’t want to abide by them. It shocks me how some kids can’t even obey the basic bus rules. SMH…There was actually a fight today…thank God I had two attendants. I’m at my wits end with these kids and if God shows His mercy, I want to be off this one.  One good thing about this route is that the kids are not that far from each other and it’s easier to drive (most of the time.)

*Only God’s grace keeps me here. They are so dysfunctional it’s not funny at all. I’m hoping it’s get better, but changes need to happen. I know that budget cuts are causing challenges (we didn’t get any new buses this year) as well as other factors (mismanagement, incompetence) that are being bought to light. Also, an influx of new kids to the system is causing those who do the routing to put the kids anywhere and having a huge amount of kids per route. It’s a problem for me because I have alot of disobedient kids who are bound to react to petty things and cause all sorts of unnecessary drama on the bus. Unfortunately threatening them with a write up doesn’t put fear in their heart. One child even boasted about having been written up 16 times last year. (16 times???) This should not be. This system is broken!

I hope that it will improve in the coming days. There is a large task at hand, but it can be done. The only thing I can do is pray and show up. (which has been very hard lately.)

Meh… to year twelve.

I think this has got to be one of the best summers I’ve worked. Unfortunately, many of the attendants (that I mentioned in a previous blog) were furloughed, but some were called back. I think many of them made plans to take a vacation since they were not working. But, I talked to a few of them and they were extremely grateful to be able to work, because they had bills to pay! I still think there was a shortage, because many of the drivers were taking the attendants job this summer. There is always a reduced amount of routes in the summer, because many of the kids don’t attend summer school.

I only had two kids this summer. I was able to bid on my route and to get it for the summer. All of the children from the last school year was not on the list. For some reason, I thought they all would go. But, as I found out later, the school only approves a certain amount of children for attendance in the summer. Because they are a private school, they have their own policy unlike DCPS who allows any child whose parents want them to attend.

Summer school for DCPS started on June 29 and ended July 24. My school started on July 1 and just ended on July 31.

On the first day, I found out that one of my students was going on vacation the next day for two weeks. I found out another child on the roster (who was new) was not approved for summer school so he only rode the bus one day. I had one child in the PM (who rode another bus in the AM, but was on my bus in the previous school year) and he was pretty consistent.

He was out one week at the same time as the other child, so I didn’t have any kids to pick up for a week. It was kinda frustrating for me, because I still had to do some unneeded driving.

I was blessed to have an attendant who I met a few years ago. He remembered me and asked me did I have an attendant. I didn’t because my previous attendant was furloughed. They called her back to work, but she was on her way to visit her mother (which was long overdue!) So, he was able to hang with me for the summer and it was good! He did his job and is a friendly guy. He will be going back to his former lot (he was just on my lot for the summer).  I was also glad to have a newer bus with good air! Hopefully, I’ll be blessed with a good bus for the upcoming school year!

Our schedule was kinda unpredictable. Our supervisors liked to play games with us for some reason. One day they would let us go home early and somedays we had to wait out our time. I did appreciate those days when we were able to leave, though.

Now, it’s August and I think all of the schools are closed until the end of the month. So, normally we clean (which can be challenging), and gas up the buses. Sometimes we take buses through inspection and hopefully those buses that fail will be properly fixed.

I’m glad that summer school is through and I’m looking forward to what the 2009-2010 (wow I can’t believe it’ll be  2010!) will bring!

Yesterday, I received a letter from the school to let me know that the school decided to stay open two extra days. But, they are half-days! So, that’s cool!

I believe DCPS Transportation needs more competent, enthusiastic workers and that’s all I will say about that!

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