I've taken public transportation to and from work for almost twenty years. In all that time, I never knew the name of my bus driver.
Until this year.
His name is Don.
And today, Don retired.
I suppose in all those years I could have done more to get to know the drivers better. I'm sure they would have told me their names. I mean, I could have learned them myself--they wear a badge with their name printed right on it. But I didn't get to know them like that. Almost all of them were nice, pleasant people who had the right temperament to take the responsibility of other's lives in their hands. Good for them--good for us.
But none of them were like Don. He was something special (I guess he still is--just not as a bus driver...). Back in May or June of this year I moved to another building and therefore, had to take a new bus to work. I think within a day or two of taking his bus, Don knew my name. He knew everyone else's name, too.
Don's not your usual bus driver. I work where there are several state offices. Don's a fellow state employee so once he drops everyone off, he parks the bus behind his building. I was riding his bus one day and I complained that my building wouldn't allow us in until just after 6:30am. If I got off at my usual stop, I'd be early and couldn't get in the building. The problem was, if it was cold, snowing, or raining, I'd have to wait to get in.
"You can just stay on the bus and I'll get you to your building right on time," he said. So I rode the bus until everyone had been dropped off. Don would then drive back to where we worked and he'd stop and let me off basically at the building's front door, and I could just walk right in the building--no waiting.
That was cool.
Also, I could walk to the bus after work and get in as he started his route. It allowed me to choose any seat on the bus, have more time to read, and kept me once again out of the elements.
Today, Don retired. He'll be replaced by another drive who I'm sure will be competent, friendly, and who may even get to know our names. Time will tell. But I do know, we'll all miss Don.