We're a healthy family, despite our weak links

Steve Hirano, Editor
Posted on February 1, 2001

It would be laughable, if it weren’t so outrageous. Two school bus drivers allegedly conspired with a kindergartner to cheat on a drug test. According to reports, the drivers gave the boy $5 in return for a sample of his urine, which one of the drivers apparently substituted for her own during a drug screening exam. I’m sure you read about it in the newspaper, heard about it on the radio or saw the story on the evening news. Unfortunately, all of America probably did, too.

Those of us involved in pupil transportation likely had the same reaction: pure disbelief and, of course, embarrassment. Many of you probably felt the need for a group hug. Or maybe a group cringe. So what does this say about the character of the people who drive America’s 450,000 school buses and transport 23.5 million children each school day? Nothing, really. Yes, these two bus drivers are a couple of bad apples, but I don’t think they spoiled the whole barrel. They were incredibly irresponsible and possibly criminal, but they eventually will be forgiven — as former bus drivers.

They’re not alone
Let’s face it, every profession has its transgressors. We’ve all recoiled in disgust after hearing stories about how doctors, lawyers, police and even priests have used their positions of authority to take advantage of clients, citizens, parishioners and anyone who wandered into their paths. Why should we think that school bus drivers are any different? Without hesitation, this industry takes pride in its safety record, as it should, but we must accept that many among our ranks are not perfect, or in the case of the two aforementioned bus drivers, not even moderately intelligent. After all, they plotted the scheme inside one of their buses — while the video surveillance camera was capturing sound and image. Sounds more like a segment for “America’s Dumbest Criminals” than the scourge of a profession.

It’s a family affair
The family of bus drivers is probably no different from your own. If you went back 18 generations (about 450 years), you would have approximately 320,000 direct ancestors in your family tree. Among those ancestors, I bet you would find a fair number of murderers, robbers, cheats and run-of-the-mill scoundrels (if you dared to look closely enough and had a treasury of genealogical information). But you would also find ancestors who were decent folk, comporting themselves virtuously throughout their lives. And these people would far outnumber their unwholesome counterparts. You might even find some bona fide heroes, people who risked their lives to save others, sacrificed themselves for a lost cause or accepted incredible responsibility for minimal monetary gain (like a school bus driver). Rather than bemoan this latest embarrassing episode, we should take a few minutes to silently give thanks that so few of the hundreds of thousands of people who transport millions of children are criminally irresponsible. This isn’t a call for complacency. You should be doing everything you reasonably can to ensure that your drivers are trustworthy, honest and decent. But if your great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather could be a thief or a scoundrel, so could one of your drivers. The driver situation could be better, yes, but it could also be a lot worse. And it will never be perfect.

Related Topics: drug use/testing

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