2006_02_otto.jpgSchool buses are notoriously awful places. It's all the school-time ostracization but in a much smaller, enclosed place. That's why Gothamist reeled when we read about the Staten Island bus driver who created a "fight club" on his bus. And not just any fight club - a fight club named the "Death Cheese Bus," where bus driver Michael Cianci was the "Emperor" and all the kids were separated by a sort of caste system ("Lords," "Darths," "Sith Warriors," "Jabas," and "Speds" for the special- education kids). The Post printed some of the rules:

As hereby proclaimed by Emperor Mike of the Death Cheese Bus, unit five, sector seven of the gamma system, these laws are laid down upon us to hold order and restore power. The penalty for breaking this code is banishment. And for a ranking of master or above, the penalty is death or severe beating.

Part of the fun was putting other kids into headlocks and cutting up another's jacket. Cianci was arrested for child endangerment when the parents of two children (probably low-ranking Death Cheese Busers) found out about what was happening. He was released on $500 bail, and claims he knew the fighting was happening but says he didn't encourage them. But the best is what his mother told reporters, "I know my son. He's a family man and he's a working slob, your basic average worker." For every great school bus driver, Gothamist feels like there's another who is on the verge of sanity. There must be some reason why school bus drivers are portrayed as being out of it like Otto from the Simpsons and Mrs. Crabtree from South Park!