After years of exhaustion working two jobs to make ends meet, Shamara Baggett decided to upgrade her career to achieve a work/life balance as a Metro Transit bus operator.
Whether she put on the uniform of a nursing assistant, private care provider or school bus driver, her weeks would consist of working eight hours overnight, then followed by six during the day.
“I made it to work, but I was exhausted,” Baggett said. “It got to the point that my life was work, and I couldn’t remember the last time I slept well.”
It was in one of those tired moments she remembered Metro Transit and the good pay and benefits they offer.
“It’s something a lot of young people just don’t think about,” Baggett said. “Being able to work one job and go to the doctor are very important, especially as you get older.”
She started the application process, but quickly found out that even with a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and school bus experience, becoming an operator can be difficult. “It was a lot harder than I expected, but I was determined to get this job,” she said.
It took three tries to earn her uniform, but she was bound and determined to get the job -- and the set hours, good benefits and pension that came with it. Becoming an operator allowed Baggett to to purchase her first home.
Baggett's persistence served as an inspiration for a customer who similarly aspired to land a job as an operator. While driving Route 4, a regular rider named Willie Moses shared his story about failing the operator test and said he was going to give up.
“I told him I failed it three times before passing, but I learned from it, and I’m here now,” Baggett said. “I told him to go back, that he can pass it!”
Years went by and she started to wonder what happened to Moses. By a stroke of fate, as she was walking down the hall in South Garage, she stopped and did a double-take. She was standing across from Moses and they were both wearing Metro Transit uniforms.
“A big smile immediately came to my face,” Baggett said. “He made it!”
They still see each other often on the job and are happy talk about the conversations they’d have when she drove him home each night on the Four.
However, she likes their new job-related arrangement better. “I’m glad he’s driving someone else now. Maybe he can inspire another person to keep trying, too!”
Operator at a Glance
Name: Shamara Baggett
Hired: May 2013
Routes: 14, 113, 134 and a Relief Garage Instructor
Lives: North Minneapolis
Family: A 4-year-old daughter; expecting a second child in 2019
Hobbies: My daughter is my life and it’s great! Whenever I’m not at work I spend time with her. We love going to the park or the Children’s Museum.
Best Advice: “Persistence pays off” and “Don’t hold on to things – let them go.”