‘Just magical’ — Lessons from an extremely talented bus driver

School_20Bus_20-_20Cartoon_207It’s the early-morning rush and my 15-year-old son Ben is wolfing down Honey Bunches of Oats.  He glances at the clock ticking toward 7 a.m.  “Gotta hurry,” he mumbles.

“Man,” I say. “Your bus driver is never late.”

Ben pauses for a moment. “Oh yeah,” he says. “He is extremely talented. He’s amazing.”

Now few jobs are as important as safely transporting our children to and from school.  Still,  “talented” is a word typically not associated with the bus-driving profession. So I’m intrigued.  As someone always looking for ways to build and improve my writing business, I’m fascinated by people who’ve found ways to excel and impress their customers, regardless of their line of work.

I dig a little deeper.

“So what makes him so… talented?”

Ben looks up from his cereal bowl with a slight frown. He senses a teenager’s worst nightmare has arrived — a full-blown morning conversation.

He shrugs. “Like you said, he is always on time. If I leave the house at 6:58 I’m OK. If it’s 6:59, it’s too late.”

And then he adds this: “I think that because we live in the biggest neighborhood the school sent their A-game to drive the bus here.”

Makes sense I tell him, although I harbor serious doubts that much thought went into matching drivers with their routes.

“So what else?” I continue.

“What else what?”

“What else makes him an extremely talented bus driver?”

“I don’t know,” Ben says.  “His “hi’s” and “bye’s” are, like, perfect. And when he passes another bus he always waves. Always. I’ve never seen him miss.”

“So does he ever yell at you guys?”

“No, but I could see it happening if we were really messing around. He does have a rule of no cell phones on the bus. If he sees one, he will just look up in the mirror and say, ‘can you please put the cell phone away. No phones on this bus.’”

“Why?”

“He told us once but I don’t really remember.  I think he might just want us to, like, actually talk to each other or something.”

A novel concept indeed.

I continue the interrogation. “So, from a technical standpoint, is he actually a good driver?” I ask.

By now, Ben has had it. The clock is nearing 6:58 and he’s a flurry of activity, pulling on his jacket and stuffing books into his backpack.  The look he flashes me says this conversation is over. “Dad, I gotta go. I really don’t know what to tell you. It’s just magical.”

He sprints out the front door as we hear the roar of the bus heading our way.  I’m left standing there thinking that Ben just told me everything I need to know.

Think if “just magical” was how our clients and customers described their experience when doing business with us. They’d be our customers – and advocates — for life.

Be on time.

Be consistent.

Be friendly.

Be fair.

That bus driver. Extremely talented.

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