I always knew my job was important. Because you’re the first one that kid sees in the morning when he leaves home and the last one in the evening before he gets home. But when Covid-19 hit, I felt really bad because it was the first time in 30 years I wasn’t able to provide service to children in some way, in some form.
Then my boss, the head of the transportation department, asked me to take part in a new program started by the district, a bus tour. We went out in the neighborhoods, gave out school supplies, books, boxes of vegetables. We did laptop exchanges. We gave out information about a lot of things going on that a lot of parents didn’t even know existed in Baltimore City.
One day, the organizer of the tour said to me, “One thing I like about you is you don’t sit down and just drive a bus.” We loaded the bus and unpacked it ourselves.
When I was on that tour, I wanted to leave a great impression. I like to see the kids happy. And if giving them a notebook makes them happy, I wanted to give it to them. Parents were happy, too. We heard a lady say, “I’m ready to go home and make some soup with this box of vegetables.”
And I got involved in more of the district’s outreach activities. We did a re-engagement for dropouts, who were invited to come back to school. They got like four or five kids back into the 12th grade. It was nice to be a part of that.
I saw the impact all the time, especially the smiles on little people’s faces. You ask them sometimes, “What are you planning on doing once you graduate from high school?” And some kids will tell you exactly what they’re planning on being, and some kids just say: “I haven’t thought that far. But the next time the bus tour comes around, I’m going to be able to tell you.”
And they’re used to seeing us now. I can be in a market, and a kid will walk up to me and say, “I know you from somewhere.” I tell them, “I’m the bus driver for the bus tour.” And they say, “Oh, yeah!”