Saturday, October 28, 2006

Killin' Time

If you haven't read the previous blog, do so now.

Now, what does the bus driver do when he's dropped the load of students and teachers at a museum or a petting zoo and faces 4 hours of sitting around? Well, I have 3 courses of action, "action" being a poor word choice.

1. I read. I always have at least one religious book I'm plowing through, plus the latest Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, or Texas Monthly magazine.

2. I listen to the radio. If it's a daytime trip, I usually can get all of Norm Hitzges' program.

3. I try to nap. It used to be easy for me to sleep on a school bus. That was back when I was teaching. Anytime I got a chance to nap, I was usually mentally fatigued...and sleep came easily. Now, since most of the stress is gone from my life, I find that I can get locked into the same position, same seats for slumber as last year, but it doesn't come easily. My mind is just too fresh, too sharp. So I pray a lot.

I enjoy field trips. They pay well. I may be slightly crazy, but I like the challenge of taking kiddoes across the city in rush hour traffic to specified destination. I know I'm carrying some parent's Zachary, Maddie, or Ethan on board. That part is humbling. That's what makes me focus to the max on being a safe driver.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Everything you wanted to know about...

field trips but were afraid to ask.

Among Dallas County Schools bus drivers, the only things more highly prized than out-of-court felony settlements are field trips. They are a great way to earn big bucks while sitting on your big butt.

Some trips are highly sought after, some not so. Most attractive are the 9 AM to 2:30 PM trips. If you have one of those, you eliminate the costly trip home after your normal morning bus run, plus you earn an easy 5-6 hours of pay. The trip to be avoided is the two-hour high school swim practice at a local natatorium...too much trouble for the small payoff.

DCS assigns trips this way. You show up at your bus lot at 5:30 on Wednesday morning to bid on trips for the following week. At exactly 5:30, an administrator starts calling names of drivers, beginning with the most tenured driver and proceding down the experience list. When your name is called, you get to sign up for any trip that is still available. The rookies tend to get the swim practice trips.

I'm #13 in seniority at our lot but some of the ones above me don't do trips. So I usually have any trip I want. At 4:30 on Wednesday afternoons, another hour of bidding takes place. Once again, they start with the older folks. On this 2nd go-round, the day trips and Saturday trips are gone...leaving the weeknight trips. I usually opt for whatever Woodrow Wilson High trip that's still on the books. I'm partial to them since that's where I graduated 40 years ago; also, their kids are well-behaved and polite.

So that's the system. I'm not a big fan of Wednesdays since I have to set the alarm for 4:15 those mornings. Seems like I spend the rest of the day looking for time and space to take a nap.

My next installment will be on what I do when I'm sitting on the bus with 4-5 hours to kill (but still making $18/hr.). I know you can't wait.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Where Have I Been?

Okay. I'm tired of telling you how much I enjoy retirement.

I have no new airport stories.

The Rangers' season is over.

I have trouble expressing myself about spiritual matters, so therefore the process makes me reticent about launching into religious discussions.

Help! Please leave me any suggestions.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Add this to your prayer list...

The Rangers have fired Buck Showalter as their manager. Idle thought: I don't recall ever seeing him smile in four years. There are about four candidates to take his place. One of those is Trey Hillman, a guy who currently manages the Nippon Ham Fighters (great name) in Japan.

I knew nothing about Hillman prior to today. But I googled his name this morning and found out that he is an incredibly strong witness for Christ. Go to this spot and click on either of the two videos on the right and you will discover a man with no hesitation in announcing his allegiance to Jesus.

I don't know whether God would rather have Hillman in Texas or Japan. All I know is that he would immediately have an incredible platform to spread the good news here in the Metroplex.

BTW, the UT quarterback, Colt McCoy, is also a believer.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Most Uncomfortable Question

I love my new life. When I stepped out of the classroom, the major stressor in my life disappeared.

The uncomfortableness arises when well-meaning young people, particularly my own kids, ask me if I'm enjoying retirement. And I'm sure they are pleased to hear how much I love it. But I know what they're feeling when they query me: "Retirement is so far away, I can't even comprehend it. The Lord will come before I clock out for the final time."

I feel for them. The deal is that I was right there once. I even remember one slow day in the classroom in the late '80's when it dawned on me that I had probably passed the halfway mark in my career. I almost floated the rest of the day, as though I had crested Everest and could now ski downhill.

Best advice I have if your job is tedious and stress-filled is recoup your zest and energy by really, and I mean really, taking refuge in your family. Carole and I poured ourselves into our kids...and suddenly the years were flying by.

And here I am.