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Posts in Category: On Off The Clock

On Off The Clock

On the Clock/Off the Clock: Billy Le 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Monday, November 11, 2019 2:41:00 PM

Lives: Richfield
Job: Schedule Technician
Years of service: 6 

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

After earning a degree in civil engineering, I entered the job market during the Great Recession. I found myself working as a dispatcher and trainer for the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District (DID) and as a part-time weekend bus operator for Metro Transit. As a lifelong transit rider, I always felt like transit was calling me. I even took a course on transit planning. 

After five years as a full-time bus operator, I became a schedule technician. Schedule technicians take data about trips and organizes them into blocks that become new schedules. As a former operator, I understand some of the frustrations they can have. As a schedule technician, I try to make good schedules for the routes I work on. Specifically, I help schedule work out of Ruter Garage. 

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

I live in the city where I grew up in riding transit: Richfield. My wife doesn't drive, so we made sure to buy a house near transit offerings like the 5, 18, and the 515. As a kid in Richfield, my mom didn't drive either, so I would take the bus everywhere around the city. My routes were the 4, 6, and the old 15. I continued my bus riding throughout college until I got behind the wheel myself. I enjoyed my part-time weekend work, and even more so my full-time extra board work, which puts you on-call for open work on any routeon any route and makes every day different. 

What is your favorite part about working for Metro Transit? 

My co-workers and managers. Whether it's in a garage or in the office, there's always someone there who can help answer any question. I'm new to the scheduling team, but there's people with decades of experience who are more than happy to help whenever I have a problem. And, the little kid in me that loved to ride the bus is still grinning that I found a job in transit.

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

My childhood hobby, Legos, has become an adult obsession. When I got this new position, I treated myself to a new Lego set to help decorate my new office. I'm a huge Star Wars fan, so most of my collection are Star Wars ships. A Y-Wing now sits proudly in my office next to a Tie Interceptor. It took a while to complete this 2,000-piece set, but believe it or not, I've done more, like a Star Destroyer, which has tens of thousands of pieces for a four-foot long piece. 

And my passion is rubbing off on 7-year-old daughter, Mara. She wants Lego sets for birthdays and Christmas. I am more than happy to shop for those! It's great daddy-daughter time when we can work on a project together. 

On Off The Clock

On the Clock/Off the Clock: Theodis Turner 

Posted by John Komarek | Thursday, October 03, 2019 11:03:00 AM


Theodis as his rap alter-ego, "Juice G" in a music video for the song, "SKOL."

Lives: South St. Paul
Job: Bus Operator
Years of Service: 6

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

Growing up, I split my time between Minneapolis, where my father lived, and Marianna, Ark., a small town where my aunt lived. I hoped to get a scholarship and play college basketball but that didn’t work out so I moved back to Minnesota. I knew about Metro Transit but had heard stories and wasn’t sure it was for me. About ten years later, I decided to apply. The pay and benefits are good, especially for a father of five. It didn’t take long to see that my fears were overblown.

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

I enjoy my role as an extraboard operator. It’s great because not having a specific route makes every day different. That variety, I find, helps keep the job fresh and interesting. There’s never a dull moment when you clock into work.

Of course, your co-workers are a great part of this job. Without them the good days wouldn’t be as good, and the bad days would be worse. Even if you think you’re the first person to experience something, you find out by talking to other operators someone’s been there already and can help you work through it.

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

I’ve been rapping since high school and am still recording. My first stage name was “OJ” which was short for “Otis Jr.,” after my father. That nickname morphed into “Juice,” which I thought sounded better with a “G” at the end. I’ve recorded one album and have a second on the way.

Recently, with a little encouragement from my daughter, I made a splash with my song “SKOL.” To my surprise, the video got picked up by KFAN and KDWB. I wrote “SKOL” because I’m a Vikings superfan and wanted to help fire up fans before a game.  I hope this song does just that and inspires fans and the Vikings to take home the championship ring this year.

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 Billy Le 

Posted by John Komarek | Thursday, August 08, 2019 9:00:00 AM

Name: Billy Le
Lives: Richfield
Job: Schedule Technician
Years of service: 5

How did you come to work at Metro Transit and what do you do?
After earning a degree in civil engineering, I entered the job market during the Great Recession in 2009. I eventually found myself working for the Downtown Improvement District (DID) as a dispatcher and a trainer and as a part-time weekend bus operator for Metro Transit. Even though I got a degree in civil engineering, as a lifelong transit rider, I always felt like transit was calling me, even taking a course in transit planning.

So, I decided to pursue one job at Metro Transit. After being promoted to a full-time bus operator for about five years, I grew into a new position that supports bus operators: schedule technician.

A schedule technician takes data about trips and organizes them into blocks that then become the new bus schedules that appear every quarter.

As a former bus operator, I’ve been on the receiving end of scheduling and understand the frustrations operators can sometimes have. As a schedule technician, I work to lessen those instances with good schedules for the routes I work on. Specifically, I help schedule work out of Martin J. Ruter (MJR) garage.

Where are you from originally? Tell us a little bit about your background.
I live in the city where I grew up in riding transit: Richfield. My wife doesn’t drive, so we made sure to buy a house near transit offerings like the 5, 18, and the 515. As a kid in Richfield, my mom didn’t drive either, so I would take the bus everywhere around the city. My routes were the 4, 6, and the old 15. I continued my bus riding throughout college until I got behind the wheel myself. I enjoyed my part-time weekend work, and even more so my full-time extra board work, which puts you on-call for open work on any route, which gave you something different every day.

What is your favorite part about working for Metro Transit?
My coworkers and managers. Whether it’s in a garage or in the office, there’s always someone there who can help answer any questions. I’m still new to the scheduling team, just under two months in, but there’s people with decades of experience who are more than happy to help whenever I come across a problem. And, the little kid in me that loved to ride the bus is still grinning that I found a job in transit.

What are your favorite activities when you’re not working or “Off the Clock”?
My childhood hobby has become an adult obsession: Legos. Once I got this new position, I treated myself to a new Lego set to help decorate my new office. I’m a huge Star Wars fan, so most of my collection are Star Wars ships. I just finished a Y-Wing, which now proudly sits in my office next to a Tie Interceptor. It took a while to complete this 2,000-piece set, but believe it or not, I’ve done more, like a Star Destroyer, which has more than 3,100 pieces and is four feet long.

And my passion is rubbing off on my eldest daughter, Mara. She just turned seven and wants Lego sets for birthdays and Christmas. I am more than happy to shop for those! And, it’s great daddy-daughter time when we can work on a project together, like her recent set: a coin operated kiddie ride that looks like a rocket ship.

 

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. 

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