Thursday, September 02, 2010


So, I mentioned that D's school was working on getting him a bus. On Monday, they called us to tell us that the bus would start on Wednesday. Pick up time, of course, is 6:20 in the morning. God love them.

But fine. Fine. D. is up early anyway, and we can handle that. So, Wednesday, the bus came, and D. went off to school, and all was well. Later in the morning, I called the school to schedule our follow-up conference. I spoke to the assistant principal, and we set the conference for Tuesday (We both tried to set it for Monday, marveling at our empty calendars, until we realized that, duh, Monday is a holiday.), with both of D's regular teachers, either the principal or the assistant principal, and possibly the resource teacher as well.

Towards the end of the conversation, I thanked him for the bus and said, "Could you please let D's teacher's know that he will not come home on the bus? My housekeeper picks him up every day because her son goes to school there also, and there's no need for the hour-plus bus ride in the afternoon -- he's just as happy in her car."

"I will let his teachers know," said the AP.

Can you see where this is going?

At 3 yesterday, my housekeeper left to get D. and her son. I was working with S. at the dining room table when I heard a horn honk. I ignored it -- there's all this construction next door, and I figured it was related to that. The honk came again, and I guess my mom instinct kicked in, because I went to the front door... and there was the bus. I ran out, retrieved D., told the driver that he wasn't supposed to come home on the bus in the afternoons, and she said that a teacher had put him on the bus, so....

D. and I came back in the house, and of course my cell phone was ringing. My housekeeper was beside herself with worry, because NO ONE KNEW WHERE D. WAS. "He's here, he's here, I told her. He came on the bus, it's okay." She hung up, relieved, and I went to tell Mr. WG. The phone rang, and I thought it would be the school, but it was my client. I took the call, but 30 seconds in, my cellphone beeped to tell me someone had left a voicemail on the home line, and the cell phone rang a nanosecond later. I told my client I'd call her back and took the call from the panic-stricken assistant principal.

"He's here," I said. "He took the bus home."

"Well," said the AP, "I am so sorry. That should not have happened, and we are taking steps to ensure it never happens again." They're assigning an aide to D. at dismissal, among other things. We talked for another few minutes, then hung up.

Here's the thing: yes, it should never have happened. I should probably be really upset, but the truth? I'm not. Obviously, because D. was fine, but also because of the school's immediate willingness to take responsibility for the mistake and to apologize for it. I'd be MUCH more upset if D. were supposed to come home on the bus and they instead sent him with someone in a car. Yes, it was a little bit scary, if you think about the fact that I might not have been at home, no one would have answered the door, and they would have... taken him to CPS? I think that's their policy. I don't know. He still would have been safe, if perhaps traumatized. But, as I have always counseled clients, organizations I'm involved in, and anyone else who is interested in my opinion, people are generally willing to forgive mistakes IF YOU OWN UP TO THEM AND APOLOGIZE.

So. That is all.


Cate said...

yeah, I agree. you can get outraged over this stuff, but if everyone's okay and appropriately apologetic and all, why bother? it's done.

If no one is home, our bus drivers return the kids to the school and then they start calling emergency contacts to find someone to come pick the kid up.

moplans said...

you are a wise woman WG. I have a long list of people who need to get that message about apologies.

The Empress said...

Amen. and tell it.

If you own up and apologize, exactly.

This year sounds like such a better start than last year, in so many ways.