Ever since my Kiddos have taken the bus, we’ve given the bus drivers cookies. Not knowing the history behind this nefarious tradition, the Kiddos like it a lot, and if I forget to make up a cookie packet for the bus driver, they’ll do it themselves.
I don’t give a lot of cookies: maybe three or four whenever I bake. I used to be conscientious about it too: I’d write a list of ingredients and include it with the cookies, highlighting that I thought they were nut-safe and therefore could be consumed by the bus driver while still on the bus.
The drivers enjoy the tangible proof of appreciation. Two weeks ago, in fact, the driver actually pulled over to tell me how much he’d liked the snickerdoodles. Last year, when I gave the kindergarten driver her first bag of cookies, the mentor-driver in the seat behind her (who drives Kiddo#1 in the mornings) started to laugh. “I told you!” she said. “I told you she’d give you cookies!”
So the other day, when my middle-schooler took the grammar-school bus home because it was more convenient, one of the other moms said, “Is that really allowed?” and I said, “I think it’s because I bribe the bus driver.”
In reality it’s because he’s a nice guy. But here’s the sad truth: this tradition did start as a bribe.
Back in Angeltown, I lived on a street that made a full loop around a fire station. When we moved onto the block, there were 55 children and two bus stops, one at the near end and one at the far end. By the time Kiddo#1 was ready to take the bus, though, most of them had gone to middle school, and only five kids would be taking the grammar school bus. So they reduced the stops on our block to one, putting it right in the middle.
The kids taking the bus were at house numbers 1, 3, 11 and 19. They put the bus stop in front of house #40, which was up the hill and around the block, out of sight of the other houses.
We petitioned to have the bus stop moved to in front of house 11 so the kids wouldn’t have to walk on unplowed streets in the snow. The coordinator refused. We pointed out that the kids could wait indoors on below-zero days. The coordinator refused. I even explained the layout of the block and said the bus passed both points anyhow, so it didn’t make a difference whether the bus stopped at one end of the block or the other. The coordinator refused.
So on the first day of school, we put the kids in front of house #11, all in a bunch, and stopped the bus ourselves. The driver said, “I’m not supposed to be doing this. I have my orders.”
I gave her a banana bread with cinnamon chips.
She said, “Well, it really doesn’t make a difference if I stop here or there…”
The next week, I gave her an apple crisp.
The hard-nosed coordinator who refused to move the bus stop got nothing.
And for the past eight years, I’ve given baked goods to the bus drivers, foul fiend that I am. May God forgive my evil apron-wearing soul.