Kathy Jones was working for a printing company when the woman living in the upper unit of her duplex told her she would soon be leaving the Metropolitan Transit Commission and that she should think about applying for her job. It was a chance piece of advice from a neighbor she’d never see again. But it opened the door to what would become a 40-year career for Kathy, who would soon leave the printing company and begin working for MTC.
When she began in 1976 Kathy served as a payroll clerk, reviewing trip sheets at the old Snelling Garage to help ensure operators were paid correctly. “It was really a serious job,” Kathy said. “Everyone was on edge because you didn’t want to make any mistakes.” Undeterred, she moved to the Finance Department, where she used a ten-key adding machine to balance farebox collections. After that, she spent about a year working as a transit information representative helping customers plan trips over the phone at a call center based at the old Nicollet Garage.
When she took a job as Maintenance Clerk at Nicollet in 1981, Kathy found a permanent home in Bus Maintenance. The job was a relatively new creation for the company, requiring her to keep manual records of timecards, inspections and repairs, all stored in three-ring binders. While she worked at a desk, the realities of the garage were never far off. Smoke built up and eventually filtered through the bottom of the door and into the office space where she worked. “It looked like the fog was coming in,” Kathy remembered. Kathy was also the only female in her work area. But while her clothes smelled like diesel at the end of each day, her co-workers treated her well and she enjoyed the work. So she persevered. “I enjoyed what I was doing, so why would I want to change?” she said. “I was having too much fun. I didn’t want to give that up.”
Eventually, though, the time to move on arrived. In January 2017, Kathy retired with 40 years of service and plans to spend her retirement traveling, visiting friends and with her family, including a son, daughter and three grandchildren. Looking back, Kathy said the thing she’ll miss most is the people she worked with at Nicollet, throughout the transit system and through the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005. “There’s a lot of good personalities” she said.