After my recovery from mental illness, my first job was delivering auto parts to customers for minimum wage. Then soon after i found myself promoted and becoming a parts buyer for heavy equipment where i once again excelled and was bringing in lots of new business. My boss ruled through fear and intimidation, i had a discussion about his management techniques and found myself handing out resumes once again. i started months of soul searching to explore what would bring me and others the most joy and happiness.
i started training as a school bus driver. Hired soon after, i began driving for a large new school in a newer part of town. Born in the 60’s, i grew up in a predominantly white, Caucasian society. My school bus was full of predominantly children of colour. Choosing to embrace what i was seeing, i decided to ask permission from the school principal if i could have a 15 minute early dismissal for all my children for the last two weeks of school. The plan was to provide these immigrant children with a little North American culture and teach them Dinah Shore’s classic 1950’s show tune “Shoo fly pie and apple pan dowdy.” The principal loved the idea, authorized the early dismissal and printed out a copy of the lyrics with recipes of the desserts in the song for each of my students. The children were eager to learn from me, so much so that we added some choreography.
After two weeks of rehearsing in “Studio 66” (my School Bus), the Principal asked if the children would sing their song with me at the year end school assembly in front of all 800 of the student body and staff.
After only three days of driving for this school a cute little girl gave me a handmade card with a box of smarties attached. it read:
“Hi Mr. Ludlow, thank you so much for being the best bus driver! And we had a lot of bus drivers who were not nice, by a lot I mean 2. So for being so nice, I made this card for you! Thank You. I love music and it is my passion, what is your passion? My passion is _______________”
This young student then asked me to the Spring wind-up BBQ, i had plans already but i told her i would be there. As I drove up to the gated school parking lot in my 1966 Mustang convertible the attending teacher told me that the lot was for staff only. I told her “I’m kinda like staff, I’m a school bus driver.” She says, “Oh, you’re the school bus driver” and opened the gate.