Wednesday, April 2, 2008

How Doug Became a MHC Bus Driver

Doug’s Philosophy of Driving for Mount Holyoke College

“I did a calculation once while I was in the tour bus industry and it indicated that if a driver were to drive a tour bus for 30 years, then that driver would come in contact with a quarter of a million (250,000) people. When you think about that, well, what an opportunity to touch that many people in a positive way and how many people in this world have that kind of opportunity?”

“I drive primarily for the athletic teams on campus and of course my primary responsibility is to provide safe travel for our teams and coaches. To me, however, there is more than just driving the teams to and from colleges. I treat all of the athletes as if they were my own daughters. They are very precious people and I treat them that way. I am interested in their competitions, their aspirations, their studies, and their outlook on life. I greet them with a smile and kind words and offer a lot of encouragement. They inspire me with their strong work ethic and sacrifice and their desire to represent Mount Holyoke College and the Athletic Program in a very positive way. I look forward everyday to my next opportunity to be with them and their excellent coaches and staff. It’s as if I am part of the team and I enjoy that immensely.”

“The teams I have had the opportunity to drive for and have come to know in this way are the following: Crew, Cross Country, Track & Field, Swimming, Soccer, Riding, Tennis, and Volleyball.”

“Other groups I have proudly driven for are: Admissions, Eliot House, Alumnae, Class Reunion members, Summer Math for Teachers, Summer Math for Students, Public Safety, and Student Programs.”

“Thanks to all of you for making my childhood dream come true.”

The Impressions of a Young Boy

Doug has always wanted to drive a “Greyhound” type bus since he was 10 years old. He can remember riding on a 1955 Scenicruiser Greyhound bus that had 2 floors on it (see picture below). He would travel with his mother and father and his younger brother from Boston, MA to Scranton, Pennsylvania to see his grandmother and grandfather Cunningham. His grandfather was a coal miner in that area for 50 years and Doug and his family lived in Medford, MA so whenever they could, they would travel to Scranton by bus and later on in a car to see them.

Anyway, the Scenicruiser had 10 seats on the lower level and an additional 33 seats on the second floor. You can see in the picture below that there is a windshield on the second floor which allows the passengers in the first row of seats to see over the blue roof below allowing for a beautiful view of the bus going down the highway and pulling into the bus slots between other buses at the Greyhound stations. Doug would not sit down but instead would stand up and enjoy the view all the way from Boston to Scranton. This excited Doug so much that he wanted to grow up to be a Greyhound bus driver. It didn’t happen right away, however, in fact it took 44 years before his dream came true.

The Responsibilities of a Young Man

After graduating from high school he joined the U.S. Air Force because he was influenced by President Kennedy’s famous quote which was “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country!” During his first few weeks of Air Force basic training, the Gulf of Tonkin incident took place in Vietnam which started a huge buildup of troops in Vietnam. After serving his 4 years, and the war still going on, he re-enlisted for another 4 years serving 8 years total from 1964 to 1972. Although he never went to Vietnam, he felt strongly that he should remain in the Air Force during that period of time.

The Beginning of His Career and the Path Towards Mount Holyoke College

After his discharge from the Air Force Doug started his career as a Logistics Administrative manager at Honeywell in Lexington, MA and then continued on with his career taking advantage of opportunities at Raytheon, Federal Express (now called FedX,), 3 computer companies (Cambex, Intertel, and IPL Systems, all along the 128 corridor in the Waltham/Burlington/Lexington area of Massachusetts). He attended night school for 5 years at Massachusetts Bay Community College in Wellesley, MA studying Business Administration while maintaining his employment.

Since layoffs were common in high tech companies in the 70’s and 80’s, he saw that people were getting their pink slips and eventually Doug got one. Being a family man with a wife and 3 children Doug decided to take the opportunity to get his tractor trailer commercial driver’s license to put food on the table between jobs in the computer industry. He realized that if he had his Commercial Driver’s License that he could find work just about anywhere.

After graduating from Allied Tractor Trailer School in Walpole, MA he decided this type of work would be a pleasant change from the corporate world he was used to so he applied for a tractor trailer job at a big construction firm in Andover, MA. When the owner of the company read his resume he was convinced that Doug would be more beneficial to his company if he would become his Office Manager and run the day to day operations instead of driving one of his dump trailers. Doug did drive a dump trailer for about a month as well as getting experience in all aspects of the business. The owner wanted Doug to learn the business and also gain the respect of the workers before he took over the office job. Doug spent 10 years there and the only reason he left was because of a change in management and the death of his wife Janet.

Eventually, by chance, he met a woman named Joanne from Hadley who lost her husband and was left with 3 children, 7, 12, and 16. Eventually he sold his house in Billerica, MA and moved out here to find work and also to marry Joanne.

One day he took a tour bus from Hadley to Worcester to watch the Hadley basketball team compete for the Division III State Title. Doug had not been on a tour bus since he was 10 years old and it brought back pleasant memories for him being with his Mom and Dad traveling to Scranton, PA in that Scenicruiser. Doug was very much impressed with the tour bus and the driver. Since Doug and his wife sat up front near the driver, a conversation with the driver led Doug on his new path in life.

Finally The Opportunity to Drive A Tour Bus

“In 1999, Doug decided to enroll in Motor Coach Driving School at Peter Pan Bus Lines in Springfield, MA. Upon graduation he had an opportunity to drive a tour bus for Morgan Coach Lines in South Deerfield, MA. After driving for a year or so he was offered a job within the company as the Charter Sales Manager. He continued to drive when he could but his main responsibility was now with his new administrative job in the office. The company went out of business in 2005 and Doug found himself out of work along with a lot of other people.

There was a part time driver for Morgan Coach Lines named Tom who also worked as a Public Safety Officer and motor coach driver for Mount Holyoke College. Tom became aware of Doug’s situation and he thought that Doug would be a good candidate for driving the buses here at Mount Holyoke College as well as becoming a Public Safety Dispatcher. The college was looking to hire such a person in 2005 and Doug was eventually hired in February of 2006.”

Doug is very appreciative to Officer Tom for giving him the opportunity to achieve his long time dream to drive a “Greyhound-type” bus for a wonderful community of people here at Mount Holyoke College.

Doug is also a dispatcher for Public Safety when he is not driving our buses.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for being so great and for getting the swim & dive team to all of our meets safely!

Carol Stafford said...

The swim team loves Doug! Thanks for all the fabulous trips and keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

Doug is amazing! He is always upbeat and encouraging, and you can tell that he really loves what he does. He treats us all with a ton of respect and shows us all how much he cares.
Thanks Doug, for your steadfast support!
-A crewton

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading this additional information about one of my favorite co-workers!