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Posts in Category: On Off The Clock

On Off The Clock

On/Off the Clock: John Cook 

Posted by John Komarek | Monday, August 19, 2019 3:08:00 PM

Lives: Wayzata

Job: Project Manager of Disability for Transit Operations

Years of Service: 26

How did you come to work at Metro Transit and what do you do? 

Metro Transit is my third career. I started as a Navy SEAL in underwater demolition and served in Vietnam. After my service, I got into the hair cutting industry, which took me to places like England and Italy. I cut hair for some high-profile clients, like rock stars Rodger Daltry and Keith Moone of The Who. When I returned to Minnesota, I dyed my hair purple and continued to cut hair. I even groomed former Minnesota Twins star Kirby Puckett. 

After 29 years, I got bored. But I'm not the kind of person who retires. I became a part-time bus operator in 1992 at Shingle Creek Parkway (now Martin J. Ruter Garage) and have been here ever since. In addition to being an operator I've worked in street operations and as an assistant transportation manager. My current role is project manager of disability. 

What are your favorite activities when you're working or "On the Clock"? 

I truly enjoy helping people, and I'm able to help employees transition back to work after an illness or tragedy. As someone who has battled cancer, had reconstructive or replacement surgery and has lots of battle scars, I can relate and help people through difficult transitions. 

Sometimes it's helping someone who's battling cancer return to work, other times it's a transgender employee and their co-workers acclimate to a new identity. Whatever the transition, I'm proud to help people overcome these obstacles. It's an emotional job – sometimes you lose people – but I wouldn't give it up for the world. Any chance to help people is worth the effort. 

My life experience and Navy SEAL training has taught me that you can overcome almost anything with the right mindset and support.​ 

What are your favorite activities when you're not working or "Off the Clock"?

I love spending time with my family. I have two daughters, seven grandkids and two great grandkids. My grandson Eddie (above right) and I are interested in tattoos. They're quite addicting, and pretty much everyone in my family has ink. 

Eddie's a talented tattoo artist and I've told him to consider me his canvas. He's touched up a few of my tattoos and is currently working on a large arm tattoo of a knight and castles – he knows that I'm big into that period. One of my favorites is a Griffin (a creature with the body, tail and legs of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle) that he designed as a symbol of the family patriarch. I've spent more than 20 hours in the chair and am ready for more whenever my grandson creates his next great design. 

On Off The Clock

On/Off the Clock with Mark Koran 

Posted by John Komarek | Friday, July 26, 2019 3:18:00 PM

On the Clock/Off the Clock features provide an introduction to the people who spend their days working at Metro Transit and their free time involved in a variety of interesting hobbies. Read more On the Clock/Off the Clock features here

Lives: St. Paul

Job: Mechanic Technician, East Metro

Years of Service: 2

How did you come to work at Metro Transit and what do you do?

The timing of a different job and my prior transit experience aligned perfectly. I’d always ridden the bus as a child and young adult, and it seemed fitting to be able to use my knowledge to keep the fleet running.

Where are you from originally? Tell us a little bit about your background.

I was born and raised in St. Paul between Frogtown and the Midway area. I split my time in the industry between automotive (Toyota, Subaru) and transit.

What is your favorite part about working for Metro Transit?

I enjoy my general work classification because it allows me to do something different every day. I also enjoy going out on road calls and helping rescue stuck buses in the winter months.

What are your favorite activities when you’re not working or “Off the Clock”?

I’m an angler and certified “river rat,” targeting sturgeon and catfish practically year-round. I enjoy cooking, mainly slow smoking barbecue. And I recently became a probationary firefighter for our town’s volunteer fire department. I completed my first responder training and will be trained in-house before enrolling in firefighter school this fall.

My children Evelyn, 6, and Dean, 2, are my pride and joy. I have an amazing wife, Theresa, whom I’ve been married to for six years. 

On Off The Clock

On the Clock/Off the Clock: Fleet Supervisor Tabin Hinck 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Wednesday, June 05, 2019 5:08:00 AM

On the Clock/Off the Clock features provide an introduction to the people who spend their days working at Metro Transit and their free time involved in a variety of interesting hobbies. Read more On the Clock/Off the Clock features here

Lives: Brooklyn Center

Job: Fleet Service SupervisorLift/Brakes

Years of Service: 9

How did you come to work at Metro Transit and what do you do?

I was looking for something different and a place where I could develop professionally. I started as a Mechanic Technician and worked on the second shift at Heywood Garage. After that, I worked as a mechanic on the Northstar Commuter Rail Line, then came back to Heywood to be a garage supervisor. Today, I work in the fleet services where we find solutions to common performance issues.

Where are you from originally? Tell us a little bit about your background.

I was raised in Brooklyn Park then went to the North Dakota State College of Science where I got my associates degree in diesel technology. Since then, I’ve always been around big and small rigs. My first job was at a Peterbilt dealer, where I worked on medium- and heavy-duty trucks. I also worked as a car shop supervisor for Canadian National, a freight rail company out of Proctor, Minn.

What are your favorite activities when you’re working or “On the Clock”? 

I enjoy being handed problems, rolling up my sleeves and getting to work on a solution. The problems can be small and easily taken care or balloon into something big that involves talking with parts suppliers or vendors about manufacturing defects. We also review how we maintain the vehicles and our procedures.

It’s a nice atmosphere to work in. There a lot of people with different skills, so there’s always someone with a different perspective on how to tackle a problem.

What are your favorite activities when you’re not working or “Off the Clock”?

I like to work on my house, cross-country ski, play with my dog, and, most of all, sail. I’ve been sailing with my family since I was four years old. We sail a 1975 Ericson 35, which is a standard rigged sloop that can comfortably sleep five people. It will go about 7 miles per hour (6 knots) with favorable wind and has a small internal engine we can use when the wind isn’t blowing.

One of my favorite places to sail is the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior. If you haven’t been, I recommend paddling through the sea caves on Devil’s Island and taking a break to walk through the old light houses.

Sometimes we’ll also go out with a smaller crew for more than a week. When we take longer trips, we’ll go to Isle Royale or into the Canadian waters, where a lot of the islands have saunas. There is very little light pollution and we’ll do plenty of night sails with just the moon and stars lighting the way between the islands. The fresh air and tranquility is why I truly enjoy sailing.

On Off The Clock

On the Clock/Off the Clock: Mechanic Technician Dan Aasen 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, May 09, 2019 1:45:00 PM

Mechanic Technician Dan Aasen with a Metro Transit electric bus.

On the Clock/Off the Clock features provide an introduction to the people who spend their days working at Metro Transit and their free time involved in a variety of interesting hobbies. Read more On the Clock/Off the Clock features here

Lives: Rock Creek, Minn.

Job: Mechanic Technician, Heywood Garage

Years of Service: 25

Where are you from originally? Tell us a little bit about your background.

I grew up in Coon Rapids and attended North Hennepin Technical College to become a diesel mechanic. I worked for Medicine Lake Lines as a driver and mechanic for ten years. While I grew up in the north suburbs, I’ve always been a farm boy at heart. Since 1996, my wife, son and I have lived in Rock Creek, Minn. It’s a long commute (approximately an hour) but worth it to have a chunk of farmland.

How did you come to work at Metro Transit and what do you do?

Twenty-five years ago, a friend of mine mentioned a job opening for a skilled helper at Heywood Garage. I got that job and, six months later, moved into a mechanic position. You’ve been able to find me at Heywood Garage doing general repairs and maintenance on the hoist ever since. 

What is your favorite part about working for Metro Transit?

I work with great people who are dedicated to sharing their knowledge and cross training so we’re able to keep our buses ready for the street. And as a mechanic there’s no shortage of projects that make work more challenging and interesting. From diesel to hybrid, and now to electric, technology is always changing. Today, most of my days are spent on the electric bus team. It’s a welcome challenge to be a part of the team ensuring the electric bus fleet is prepared for the opening of the METRO C Line.

What are your favorite activities when you’re not working or are “Off the Clock”

I’m a mechanic on and off the clock. Except off the clock I work on vintage tractors, like my 1929 McCormick Deering tractor or 1951 Farmall. I find understanding these old machines interesting and so do a lot of other people. We get together at old time tractor and thresher shows in Almelund, Rock Creek and other places throughout Minnesota. It’s a great community of people who not only share their love of tractors but the stories around the machines. My son shares a love of vintage tractors, too. Between the two of us, we have eleven vintage tractors!  

On Off The Clock

On the Clock/Off the Clock: TCC Supervisor Meredith Tvrdik 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Tuesday, April 16, 2019 2:29:00 PM

On the Clock/Off the Clock features provide an introduction to the people who spend their days working at Metro Transit and their free time involved in a variety of interesting hobbies. Read more On the Clock/Off the Clock features here

Lives: Big Lake

Job: Transit Control Center Supervisor

Years of Service: 15

How did you come to work at Metro Transit and what do you do?

I began as a travel booth agent and trainer at the Transit Information Center (TIC). Six short years later, I was promoted to work in the Transit Control Center (TCC). At the TCC I help bus operators with any problems they experience. On any given day, I could be dispatching police, sending a technician for repairs, calling the shop if the bus breaks down or making sure trips are filled so we deliver trips on time to our riders. 

Where are you from originally? Tell us a little bit about your background.

I was born in California but I grew up in the Iron Range. After graduating high school, I moved to the Twin Cities to pursue a degree in animation. That’s when I met my husband and started a family. I’m a proud parent of a 12-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son.

What is your favorite part about working for Metro Transit?

The people I work with. They make me laugh every day, even though the work can be challenging at times. Every day is different, so this job never gets old. 

What are your favorite activities when you’re not working or are “Off the Clock”?

I enjoy spending time with my family when we go camping and traveling, but I also enjoy "me-time" when I go for a run. While running is still new to me – I started running a little over 2 years ago – I recently completed the 2019 Los Angeles Marathon.

I ran to commemorate my father who died from a heart aneurysm when he was 37 years old, the age I am now. As a kid in California, I fondly remember going to Dodgers baseball games with my dad. It was meaningful to me that this marathon starts at Dodger stadium, a place we shared so many memories. 

This commemoration was even more special when another TCC supervisor, Belinda Hanson, surprised me the morning of the race. I knew she was coming to be a spectator but she surprised me with the news that she planned to run by my side and encourage me the whole 26.2 miles! Like I said, the people I work with are one of the many reasons I love my job! 

Want to share your story or suggest a co-worker for an On the Clock/Off the Clock profile? E-mail insights@metrotransit.org​​

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