TBT: The One & Only Time I Took the Schoolbus

Have you guys ever had a teacher in high school that lets the class misbehave and act like animals the ENTIRE YEAR, and then sometime in June they out of the blue start pulling their bulls***: “No more iced coffees in home room” or “starting today I’m cracking down on the length of the jean skirts.” Look, I’m fine with the teachers that are strict all year. I can pull down my jean skirt to the tips of my fingers before I walk in the door and save my wisecracks for next period. But what doesn’t fly with me is when I parade in with my Dunkin’ french vanilla ice with a hot cup expecting to hold court, and Mr. or Ms. I’ve-been-the-token-chill-teacher-all-year sends me to the vice principle. 

So what does this have to do with taking the bus? Everything. Because circa 2001, my mother was the token chill teacher that unprecedentedly flipped on a dime, throwing her kids from the back seat of the Escalade with the portable DVD players to the jungle of the school bus. 

To set the stage: our elementary school was on average, 4 minutes away, maybe 6 with traffic. The day that my mother flipped our carpool paradise on its head, Mikey (little brother) was 1st grade, I was 3rd grade, and Jimmy (older brother) was 5th. Rain or shine, a little early or really late, the big 3 were watching a movie on the way to school. Unfortunately for my mother, we’d flip out and lose our marbles if she moved the car even an INCH out of the driveway before we were able to start the movie. Sounds ridiculous, but we were on a strict schedule. We wanted to finish one movie every two weeks, and we needed to maximize the 8 minutes a day on our way to school to accomplish this goal. 

My mom let this go on for the entire year, until one morning in may, just like the teacher that nobody likes, she ripped the rug out from under us. Months earlier we quickly figured out she wouldn’t move the car until we had our seatbelts on. So, we made sure we didn’t put our seat belts on until we were settled with our movie. At least once a week she’d threaten us and say, “I’m not dealing with this today. I have errands to run- if you try to put the movie on your taking the bus next week.” Haha, I thought to myself. Empty threats. The chances of my mother actually putting me on the bus were the same as me not getting a check-plus-plus on my cursive handwriting, and I don’t know if you’ve heard, but I could go to the olympics for cursive handwriting. 

Low and behold, in an unprecedented display of dictatorship, the next day Gina refused to unlock the car. She walked us to the corner of the street, put us on the bus, and told us to ask the driver if they had DVD players on the back of the seats with an evil smirk on her face. 

To say the three of us were RATTLED was an understatement. The bus was completely empty at this point, which effectively meant we would be the first ones picked up and the last ones dropped off. My mom probably called the school and demanded they reroute the entire thing just to punish us. However, we had no idea this would be the case at the time. My brother’s and I were wholeheartedly convinced that they sent a school bus to every street, and had no comprehension of the fact that you had to drive around for 30 minutes picking up all the other students before you actually went to the school. Sounds ridiculous, but let me declare my innocence and reiterate that this WASN’T OUR FAULT. All we’d ever known was direct routes, door to door service, wireless DVD headphones and sometimes happy meals on the way home. We were lost, ignorant, and scared, thrown into the fire of normal public school life and convinced we were being kidnapped by this driver who was driving around in circles. 

Fast forward to 3pm that day, when the big three were supposed to be on the school bus beginning our 45 minute, 0.5 mile drive home. But did we give in? No. I was the ringleader. This wasn’t happening on my watch. Gina may have dropped the hammer on us, but two can play that game, and I dug my heels in ready for a good old fashioned stake out. I manipulated my brothers into coming to the principles office with me and telling him that we were sick. Unfortunately for you Gina, I had baby Mikey double check with his reading specialist who confirmed that “in Winchester public schools, sick students are not allowed to ride the bus to avoid spreading any kind of illness.”

She was there in 15 minutes. 

Hey kids, sometimes it pays to have a brother a couple of years behind on his reading levels. As for the McCaffrey children’s school bus career? Let’s just say it abruptly came to an end. Don’t poke the bear, Gina.