Monday, August 8, 2011

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round

It would be hard to say how my bus test could have gone any better. Maybe by remembering that the funny little part is the "steering box" rather than the "steering doohickey", but that's about it. Oh, and I don't think "brake thingamabob" is part of the manual, either.

The maneuvering was an unqualified triumph. Each of the three exercises  I did, backing the bus up in different patterns, was done perfectly and in one shot. The last one, called an alley dock, I had to back the bus up at a 90 degree angle to my starting position, and stop with the rear end within an 18" margin. I got it to where I thought I was pretty close, and hopped out for one of my allowed peeks. Just to make sure.

I met the instructor walking toward the front of the bus, already carrying most of the cones. "You got it," she beamed.

Then we were down to the drive test. The kind superintendent had already shown me where the main track ran through town, so I was ready. Determined not to crash or run over anything, I followed each of her directions. "Have you already been driving school bus for a while?" she finally asked. "You seem so comfortable."

"No, just a truck," I blushed modestly, grateful beyond words she hadn't seen me less than an hour before.

Back in May, I got to go for a short test drive in one of the short buses. At the end of 20 or 30 minutes, I was getting pretty comfortable with it, if I took my test right away. It didn't work like that, and to make matters more interesting, the bus they rented in Glasgow for my test, was a large school bus. With scads of bells and whistles the other bus didn't have, and almost all the gauges and switches mixed up. I had about an hour before the test to memorize the new placements and procedures.

Finally, the superintendent suggested, "Why don't you take the bus for a spin around the parking lot?" Then  he went back inside. 

On my own! I checked the gauges and switches, checked them again, put the bus in gear, carefully released the parking brake, and took off. It was great! The wind ruffled through my hair as I pulled forward. The wind ruffled my hair. Something was wrong.

GAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH the door!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Woops, just lost my passengers.

With a hasty glance around to make sure no one was watching, I snatched the door shut. 

Note to self: When taking test, make sure door is closed.

Since I passed the test in the big bus, painstakingly shutting the door even sometimes when I didn't have to, I now have my passenger bus endorsement, as well as school bus. That means I could even drive a Greyhound bus if I wanted. (Which I don't. Even though the blogs would be to die for.)

If there was a slight shrill edge to my laughter as I thanked the instructor for the compliment, I'm sure no one noticed but me. And just when I thought life couldn't get any better than passing the exam, the kind lady in the office took a new picture of me to replace the one from a few months ago where I resembled a golden retriever just sighting a duck. 

Two weeks from today I will be on duty, whether as a route driver or an alternate. Stay tuned for an update next week.

Keeping my doors shut,
Noni Beth

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