Rich is interested in what you have to say.
On Tuesday night, I rode the bus circuit with him for about 45 minutes. I couldn't formally interview Rich because of Livingston Area Transportation Service media policy, so instead I just talked with him.
It quickly became clear that Rich loves his job. He especially likes night runs, because students are more willing to talk when they are not preoccupied with classes. And that's the whole thing for Rich - he likes talking to people. He remembers students' names and where they're from.
Two years ago, Rich remembered that a student missed the bus at Eastview Mall and had to take a cab back to campus. She later told him about it. Though he bears no responsibility for her missing the bus, he still remembers her - and her return cab fare to the dollar. He's the kind of guy who asks how you are and will listen to what you say. This was unexpected.
Rich often drives the bus on weekends after midnight. I thought I would hear about breaking up fistfights and kicking people off the bus. I expected a frustrated driver who was going to vent about his bad days. After talking to him, though, it sounds like Rich doesn't really have bad days.
The stories Rich told were about people he found really interesting. He thinks it's cool that they come from different parts of the world, and he likes learning about it. He asked me questions too, about what I want to do in life and where I want to go.
Rich told me about himself also. He talked about his family and past jobs, mentioning that he was once a welder and loved it, and that when you're driving near Highland Park you need to watch for deer.
Sometimes, Rich said, students use the bus not because they have somewhere to go but because they just want to ride. This reasoning became clearer as the night went on.
How many people just sit and listen to what we say? Rich isn't required to listen. It's not his job - he is not obligated by friendship, and he doesn't get paid for it. He really wants to though, not because he's a bus driver, but because he's a nice guy.
According to Kathy Trainor, a staff associate of Student and Campus Life, Rich is not the only LATS driver eager to have good conversations with students. Bus timetables are available at the concierge desk in the College Union and also in Milne Library.