The Absent Uncle:The day that was

D.C. Schultz, Guest Columnist

It was sometime in the school year of 1976-77. Doesn’t really matter what day. I was a special education school bus driver for the San Diego Unified School District. Driving a Chevrolet Van with three-row bench seats, a floppy lap belt over each row, a sliding passenger side door, and no radio or communication with the outside world.

This route had 10 students assigned, I think all were aboard that afternoon. Each were dropped off at their home. The route from school to last drop off was about an hour and fifteen minutes. I also took these kids into school in the morning.

An interesting group – some very verbal, some not so much – but all in all it was a really good route. Long hours, pretty easy kids, and some interesting areas to drive through. 

My first pick up and last drop off was Rickey H. The route book given to me gave no indication of what to watch for. I had met and had a good relationship with Rickey’s parents, so all seemed just another day of a SPED driver. And I had driven this route for a few months, but today proved to be unlike any other day.

About a block from his house, Rickey became so agitated and started to hurt himself by hitting his head on the windows, the ceiling, his fists, the seat backs, and making sounds I had never heard him make before. 

As I said, I was about a block from his house. I flipped on my overhead school bus lights to let his dad know something was happening – dad was always there to meet him – and took off my seatbelt to go back and try to calm Rickey down. Long story short, I calmed him down, had my glasses broke, and suffered a black eye.

Dad arrived, helped Rickey off the bus (now completely calm), apologized profusely, and even gave me a beef steak for my eye – plus tape for my glasses! (I fried up that beef steak later in the evening!) 

But that was the day that was. I will never know what caused Rickey’s eruption. But that day I started to learn about kids, relationships, and the depths of love of a parent for a child. 

And hey, Rickey – it’s always been OK.



The Brandon Valley Journal


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