End of an Era

On Friday, Carys finished her last week of school for the year. It was a really sad day, because next term, she will have a new bus driver.

Edmund has been taking Carys to school for five years. Come rain, hail, fog, frost, snow or shine, he reliably turned up every morning with a smile and a joke, and there was no one else I would rather entrust my special little girl to. I always knew, from the first moment we met, that Carys would be safe with him.

He loved all the kids on his school run, knew them all well, their little moods and quirks and funny ways, what made them tick, when to pander to them, and when not. They all loved him. Carys was always happy to see him.

No matter how sleep-deprived the previous night had been coping with Carys’s needs or health issues, Edmund always cheered me up.  He loved the kids, and he loved his job. Where disabled children are concerned, being their bus driver doesn’t mean simply driving a bus.

He hasn’t retired. He isn’t ill. His bus hasn’t conked out. He hasn’t lost his drivers license, sold his bus or emigrated. Every year he dutifully put in his tender for Carys’s school run, and every year he was forced to shave it back if he wanted to keep the business. This year, someone somehow managed to massively undercut his bid.

Strangely, he’s not the only one, and there has been quite an outcry. It is yet another example of disabled children being treated without regard. And I am concerned that someone who can slash costs so readily may be more interested in pursuing their own profits than the well-being and safety of the vulnerable special needs children entrusted into his care.

I cried when I said good bye to Edmund. I watched him say good bye to Carys, and my heart ached. It might as well have been goodbye till next week, or next term as far as she’s concerned. Although her lack of understanding may protect her from sadness, which arguably could be a good thing, it also keeps her locked in the dark. In the future, she may well wonder where he is and why he has abandoned her, yet not be able to express it.

I know that people drift in and out of our lives as often as clouds drift across the sun, bringing their light, or shadows, with them. Some leave an imprint behind as they move on. And sadness fades with time. It’s all part of the process. But sometimes, it’s really hard to watch them go.

34 Comments on “End of an Era

  1. Thanks for sharing, The same thing happens in the UK all the time, the contract is given to the cheapest not the most appropriate. Because the profit margin are squeezed there is no money for training or even awareness course so the drivers and escorts have very little understanding of the students needs or how to manage them. I wish people understood value for money should just be about the actually costs, but the knock on effect of a bad service has for everyone else.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Unfortunately it all comes down to money in the end. I sometimes feel the world is so unbalanced… when will we ever understand and reprioritise? Human beings take so long to learn what’s really important.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Éilis. I always hope these people will grow to love Carys and stick around, but of course they have their own lives to lead, and I understand that. Still makes me feel sad though…

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  3. It is hard, and sad, Ali, and an example of how business decisions and actual needs don’t always dovetail. Love to you and Carys and best wishes to Edmund, and I hope the new driver pleasantly surprises you with care and regard for your special girl. It could happen. Be optimistic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Mark! I think I was so taken aback by the suddenness of it, that I reacted quite negatively to it. I do hate it when people who have made a difference in our lives move on, whether it is a natural progression, or as with Edmund, forced out by circumstances beyond our, or their, control. But you are right, the next driver could be equally as nice, and so we will gain, not lose. Edmund may be gone, but we have not lost, because we had 5 years with him… Gosh, time flies! PMA, Mark, that’s what I need to have, thank you for reminding me, and the new driver at the very least deserves that chance. Xxx

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  4. Everyone’s comments gave great advice or empathy. I helped initiate a rural transportation project in Scotland for people with disabilities which is now thriving but it cannot be done cheaply (the Scottish government funded it initially). If it doesn’t match your expectations then I would involve everyone who could help from politicians to social work and Carys’s doctor. Good luck!

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  5. Couldn’t agree with you more, Ali. It is so sad when this happens and it is such a sad state of the world when profits come before care. It’s happening everywhere at the moment. I’ve seen it happening with the care my mother needs. Companies blame the local authorities, who then blame the government, who go on to blame anybody but themselves.

    I hope when the new school year starts that the driver will be as caring and loyal as Edmund was.

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    • Thanks Hugh. You’re right, it is happening everywhere. People either aren’t aware, or don’t care, about the consequences. Unfortunately, these people are a silent minority. They can’t defend themselves, which is why it’s so easy to target them. It’s very sad.

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  6. Heartbreaking and sad, Ali. I’m so sorry for you and Carys, and the other kids who are going to be affected by this change. It just makes me so angry when money trumps the well being of kids, it’s a backward world. I also hope the driver you get next year is as kind and compassionate as Edmond. Even if he is, trust takes time to build, and that doesn’t replace the loss for Carys or your family. I was going to write, what are people thinking, but they’re not thinking, Ali, definitely not that, just reacting with selfishness. It’s wrong.

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    • Thanks Éilis. You are right, it does take time to build that level of trust. I think the worst part about it is that it came so out of the blue… I only found out a few days beforehand, so I’m still coming to terms with it. But I think people are thinking when they make these decisions, but not with compassion. Money is all they care about, unfortunately.

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  7. Where, in the evaluation of value is including information on the benefits of the relationships forged? There is more to providing a service than just money.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Ali, you are a fighter! Don’t let this go. If the new bus service and driver are good, I would still try to organize to get Edmund back. I once went up against the Archdiocese of Raleigh, along with some other parents, on behalf of my son’s second grade teacher. We won. If that service is bad, agitate. The squeaky wheel WILL get oiled!

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  9. Sorry to hear that as Edmund sounds wonderful.. I hope that your next driver is just as kind and perhaps a letter of recommendation for Edmund from all the parents might help him get back the run in the future. I am sure that the cutbacks have been met with over expenditure on something flashy and visible…hugs

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  10. Such a shame for you, Carys and Edmund. Another example of money being put before the well-being of others. I do hope that the driver you get next term is another Edmund, and that he or she shows the same care for the precious passengers they carry.

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    • Thank you, I hope so too. The whole process of bidding for the job makes it all about profit and budgets, rather than the welfare of children. It just feels so wrong. All children are precious and need to be kept safe, but those who can’t talk or understand are particularly vulnerable, and this is such a position of trust. I can’t help feeling that there must be a better way.

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  11. That is so sad. And empathising with your concerns for your daughter’s understanding of why he has gone makes it even sadder. Fingers crossed that whoever owns the bus that turns up next term, the driver is as compassionate and human as Edmund.

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    • I hope so, Geoff. We were so lucky first time around, and I just always thought he’d be around until Carys leaves school. Actually, I didn’t even consciously think it, it just was. In my mind, anyway.

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