Adventures in Autistic Parenthood

Friday, November 11, 2011

Transportation Issued:

Like many parents I entrust my son to the vagaries of the public school transportation system. Unlike most parents, when something goes wrong there's no way for me to tell if the story I'm getting has any relation to what actually happened.
    Almost every District in our county sends their special needs kids to the same school, so the only thing we depend on from the local school district is transportation. Recently Randy, our usual bus driver had to take a leave for health reasons. So we had to deal with a series of substitutes. Somehow I was under the mistaken impression that the 'professionals' that drove the bus were just that. Professionals. Somehow these stalwarts of transportation have managed to wreck the bus twice in about 4 weeks. No injuries (that I know about) but it's made me a bit nervous about what was a nice steady routine that I thought I didn't have to think about anymore. It kicked me out of a rut, in other words, and we all know how disturbing that can be.
   I leave for work 45 minutes before the bus picks Dude up, so Raine has to deal with the grumpy bus lady and the whirlwind of substitute bus drivers while still suffering through her own caffeine deprivation every morning. Raine doesn't normally have a problem with this, because Randy, our transportation hero, knows he needs to be by the house before a certain time in the morning. I (usually) have just enough time to get home after work to be there to greet them. With subs you get sub-standard understanding, and timing, so there's been a bit of extra added aggravation for both of us not knowing when the bus is going to show up, or which of the Jerry Springer Show rejects we'll have to deal with when it does.
    Usually when something goes wrong New Horizon's Goddess of Reception, (I'm not being facetious, she's a wonder) Carol rings one of us up (in the correct order) and the problem is dealt with. But 'sub' is the root word of 'sub-standard' and the School District Nurse fit that bill to a tee. At 1:00 in the afternoon, I happened to be in the bathroom at work when my cell phone rang. Recognizing the prefix, but not the number (and having finished my business) I decided to answer the phone.  There was an unfamiliar voice on the line telling me that she's the 'Quippa School nurse and there's nothing to worry about, but there was an accident with the bus. Right away I'm thinking, 'Why do people say that? It just makes people worry.' Then it occurred to me. David wasn't due on a bus for 2 more hours, so whatever I shouldn't worry about actually happened six and a half hours earlier. Now I'm worried. Then she starts telling me about how the police where there, and the EMT's checked all the kids out, and how she went down and checked them out, and then how they were checked out by Ann, the NH nurse, and how wonderful everything was and the kids.. blah blah blah. Then she proceeded to tell me that she left 2 messages on MY HOME PHONE!!  It's the second day of the work-week, in the middle of the day and she's leaving messages at my home, despite the bushel of paperwork I have to do EVERY YEAR to tell everyone from the Principle to the gardener where I am at any given moment of the day. And completely disregarding the fact that my cell-phone number is on every third piece of paper that I fill out for the school.
     I've always been a bit conservative about the whole cell-phone thing. Not because I'm old-fashioned or anything, but because I figured it was just a way for people you probably don't want to talk to anyway to disturb you where ever you happened to be instead of just at home. Also, after dealing with a fatal case of 'phone-Alzheimers' (You've had it too. Remember when you were supposed to call your parents and tell them what you were doing?) for most of my life I was pretty sure that a cell-phone would negate my favorite 'I couldn't find a phone' excuse. Due to David's School's initial inflexibility about traditional gender roles I was yanked into the more-or-less modern age. No matter how many forms I filled out, when something happened they'd inevitably think 'Mom' and call Raine at work. Raine didn't mind being called, but not being any relation to Dude there were many things she just wasn't allowed to do. And when David came back from his mother there was much to do. And many calls. So Raine insisted that we get cell-phones so that the school could reach me where ever I happened to be....  Evidently only if  'where I happened to be' was at home.
  Why are educated people so stupid?
   So, knowing that the acoustics of a tiled industrial-sized bathroom are perfect for screaming maniacally (don't ask me how I know that) I was all set to start roasting her verbally when she said that she had finally called Ann and had gotten my cell number from her, and she hoped that was ok. Like she was breaking some bureaucratic rule to get a number that she should have already had. I have a difficult time berating people that actually seem to be trying... even if they are idiots. So I told her to keep the number in case it ever needed to be used again, and hung up.
    I walked back to my machine and stared at it for a few moments getting angrier and angrier at the situation, when I realised that being in the midst of tons of steel with crane access might not be the perfect time to go into a psychotic rage. So I talked to my boss and drove to Dude's school, because I already know that the highway is a perfect place for a psychotic break. That's where everybody does it.
   The people at Dude's school were understanding, if slightly puzzled, about my appearance and the fact that I was yanking my son out of the clutches of the Bus System. At least for that day. No one there seemed to know anything beyond the fact that the bus had been late, and some amorphous story about a 'crazy lady running a stop sign'. As we're walking out the door it occured to me that there needs to be something done about this 'crazy-stop-sign-running-lady' as that's the second time in around a month she's done damage to my harmony. Not to mention school property.
   David is a (mostly) wonderful kid, charming and cute and all that, but if you want information from him you don't already possess you are, as the Bard used to say, 'Shit out of luck.'  So, other than him laughing about the 'bus is broke!' and something about 'The hip is okay now!' (I checked, no bruise), I got nothing from the former tyke. Knowing that the kid bruises up like an over-ripe peach, I wasn't too worried after a quick inspection. And remembering how he needed 'to go to the hospital building' and 'There could be internal bleeding' after falling down on his butt. I was pretty sure he'd be yelling for Emergency Personell if he was in any sort of pain. Or if he thought it was funny.
    We stopped by a River Park on the way home, mostly so that I could finish calming down. I'm sure David had no idea what the big deal was. As far as he was concerned the only reason for me to come pick him up from school is so that I can get him Wendy's and then take him to his games an hour (or more) early. To ease my mind, Randy is once more at the helm and I haven't even seen the old grumpy dude that was driving the day of the 'wreck'. No lurid headlines in the paper, no 'film at 11' about the bumper-car busses we seem to have around here, but my mind will take some time to settle about the issue of transportation.
   Now, not only do we have Randy back, but the Grumpy Bus Lady has been replaced with the Nice, but not very talkitive, New Bus Lady. And the Crazy old Stop-Sign running Lady has evidently been run out of town, because there have been no further incidents, so far. I'm not actually getting my hopes up yet, she may just be out of town visiting relatives. And through it all not a bit of it has effected Dude one way or the other. The only time he likes the bus is when it brings him to the Land of the XBox 360, (home) Bumper Busses is just a fun game (that we don't play anymore), and Dad is still the guy that occasionally grabs him out of school, for no good reason, and takes him to get Bacon-Cheeseburgers. All is well in the Dude-verse.

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