Cheryl Kienietz-Hall always thought of her employee number, #360, as a symbol of coming full circle. And her career did eventually come to a close in almost the same place it began, at least geographically. That’s because Kienietz-Hall finished her career at Metro Transit as an Instructor, working just across the street from the site of her first job at the since-shuttered Shamrock Neatway Plastics factory. “I worked a lot of places in between but I find it really kind of ironic that I’m retiring just across the street from what was my first job,” she said.
While her career began and ended on the same block, Kienietz-Hall collected plenty of experiences during her 38 years as a bus operator and instructor at Metro Transit. Her career began in February 1979 when, after nearly a decade of riding the bus, she resolved to see what it was like to be in the driver’s seat. The decision came after Kienietz-Hall had graduated with a degree in psychology, ruled out furthering her education and was searching for good-paying, steady work. “I didn’t want traditional women’s work, because it was traditionally low pay,” she said. When Kienietz-Hall interviewed, she was surprised to be asked how she’d commute without a car. But she made it work, riding the bus and roller-skating to the old Northside Garage.
Not long after she started, Kienietz-Hall moved to the old Snelling Garage and began working as a driver for Project Mobility, serving residents unable to use regular route transit because of their disabilities. Kienietz-Hall was in part drawn to the work, she said, because her mother was in a wheelchair. She was also among the first operators to volunteer to drive buses with lifts, which at the time were available on only a portion of the fleet. “It was important to me to have the ability to pick up anybody,” she said.
Kienietz-Hall was later among Metro Transit’s first group of full-time instructors. While taxing, Kienietz-Hall said she enjoyed helping new operators and that the work was a good match for her personality. “Training has really been the best fit for me,” she said. “It takes a lot of energy, but I’ve always been able to put myself out there.”
Kienietz-Hall retired in March 2017, just over 38 years from her first day on the job. At the time of her retirement, she planned to take a few months to think about what she wanted to do next. But more time reading, attending theatre, learning how to cook and several home improvement projects were among the activities she looked forward to.