Thursday, January 21, 2016

Beggars Can't Be Choosers

Moving back home in 1978 with no job and little money didn't worry me too much. I had a solid resumé with years of office experience. The NFO home office occupied three buildings on main street in my home town. They employed many people and while I didn't really want to work there, I figured if I couldn't find an office job anywhere else I would be able to get one there.
After several weeks job hunting and finding nothing and with the savings dwindling away, I applied for a job as a transit specialist with the Area XIV Agency on Aging. And got it. Again, not that it was the job I wanted, but if nothing else is on offer, you must be content with what you have. (Beggars can't be choosers!) Anyway, I figured it would be  a stop-gap measure until a real job showed up.

Driving the trolley, which is how my little blue bus was generally referred to, turned out to be one of my all-time favorite jobs. It was good to again see some of the people I had known all my life and to meet new ones I hadn't known before. I have always loved history and talking with people of my grand mothers' generation was like history coming alive.
I soon learned that being outside in all kinds of weather was preferable to sitting at a desk all day. Bonus - I got to wear my jeans to work!
In addition to driving the senior citizens to and from appointments and the meal site, I also took the children home after their mornings at head start.
In this July, 1980 photo, I am stepping into the bus, getting ready to leave home for another day of driving.

One day each week I went to the little towns of Carbon and Nodaway and brought riders to Corning to shop and go to the meal site. Once a month we took the bus to Creston for shopping in a bigger town.
And once in a while we had special trips like the one of the group here. I think we were just driving out and about in the countryside, enjoying the colors of Autumn, although they look a little dressed-up for joy-riding. Maybe we had been shopping first and then leaf-peeping.
I can still name all but three of the people in this photo even though they have been gone many years.

There were two incidents that I recall while driving the trolley, the first similar to my school bus snow story. Only this time it was ice which was the culprit. I was taking the head start kids home and only had one left to drop off. Even though it was icy, most of the roads were well-traveled and okay. But I turned onto a little-used gravel road, got part way down the hill and started slipping and sliding. I couldn't go forward or backward. After several tries I finally got out, got my little passenger out and we walked back to a farmhouse. The people there called a tow truck which came out from Lenox, the closest town. He winched the van back up to the main road and we went back around on the main roads to get the pre-schooler home.
The other incident happened again when I was taking head start children home (though not on ice). I was traveling west on a main county gravel road when I saw a car coming from the north. He had a stop sign, so I wasn't concerned. However, he didn't stop! I applied the brakes and horn. He didn't even look our way just pulled right out in front of us. I got stopped in time but it was a good fifteen minutes before I stopped shaking. Just thinking about what could have happened to those little kids in my care was enough to make me livid.
Like driving the school bus, driving the little blue bus was a job I totally enjoyed. If nothing else, it taught me that accepting a job other than what I thought I wanted to work at could turn out to be a very good experience.

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