Tuesday, December 01, 2015 2:28:00 PM
To continue receiving unemployment assistance, Bonnie Green needed to prove that she was making efforts to find a job. So when her husband, already working as a bus driver, suggested applying for the same job, she took the advice. To her surprise, she got the gig. “It wasn’t like it was a lifelong dream or anything, but I said ‘You have a job, and I need one,’” she said. Even so, Green didn’t think it would last. When she started in June 1979 she intended on staying only long enough to avoid being charged for the army green uniform the job required. “It would have cost me $250, and that was a lot of money for an ugly uniform I’d never wear again,” she said. Though it might not have been her original plan, Green ended up spending more than 33 years behind the wheel. Green retired in 2006 and returned in 2009 for another six years of driving (her first retirement came on April Fools’ Day, allowing her to brush that initial exit off as a ruse). A lifelong St. Paul resident, Green was the first part-time operator at the old Snelling Garage; when that garage closed, she move to East Metro. She drove every route in and around St. Paul, and was particularly fond of the old Route 5, with service between St. Paul and Inver Grove Heights, and the old Route 29 that went through West St. Paul. Green said she stayed with the job because she enjoyed driving, getting to know her fellow operators and visiting with customers who seemed to appreciate her friendly demeanor. “A lot of people are really grateful for any little help you can give them,” she said. Among her more memorable moments was the time she pulled up to a women in labor, covering her legs with a sweater until an ambulance could arrive. And while initially intimidated by the size of the bus, she turned out to be a natural, recording more than 25 years of safe driving. Green retired in December 2015 with plans to visit several national parks and stay active by going to the gym, golfing and bowling.