Operator Xauvier Knazze gets a lot of fan mail.
Every month, he receives multiple commendations from customers who are amazed by his big smile, cheerful demeanor and attention to safety.
“He is a positive, safe driver and a perfect ambassador for not only your company but the human spirit,” one Route 4 customer wrote this summer.
Knazze (who pronounces his name zah-vee-ay kuh-nah-zee) has had the opportunity to make a lot of impressions, too. In his eight years with Metro Transit, he’s driven nearly every single bus route and briefly served as a train operator.
His recipe for a positive on-board climate: sincerity, with a sprinkle of humor. Knazze has joked that customers who stand too close to the front of the bus should do 50 push-ups and flattered older riders by guessing they were much younger.
“When people are out and about, they have their guard up,” Knazze said. “I love to help people lose their edge and smile…When I can help lessen that weight with a smile, it helps not only them, but everyone on board.”
Despite his best efforts, conflicts can still arise. When they do, Knazze says the best remedy is to simply listen. When an upset customer confronted him, he defused the situation by carrying on a conversation.
“I did everything to protect myself, including calling police, but I kept talking to him,” Knazze said. “It finally came out that his mother died, and his brother wouldn’t help.”
Later that same week, the customer returned to apologize and thank Knazze. “Never take away the dignity of a customer,” Knazze said. “They’re people and deserve respect, even when there’s a problem.”
Conversing with customers is one of Knazze's favorite parts of the job. After serving as a school bus driver, he worked an office job where he had no view of the outdoors and limited interactions.
Now, Knazze wishes he’d started working at Metro Transit even sooner. “I think I should have come here right after high school,” he said.
If you like working with people and want to make a difference in your community, come help us run our growing transit system! Learn more about what it takes to become a bus operator at metrotransit.org/drive.