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Rider's Almanac Blog

On Off The Clock

On the Clock/Off the Clock: Jody Salen, Program Technical Specialist - Commuter Rail

| Tuesday, June 14, 2022 5:42:00 AM

Lives: Albertville

Years of service:13

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

During the Great Recession, I was among those laid off at The Opus Group, a design-build company in Minnetonka, where I was a project manager assistant. After many months, I applied for a senior administrative specialist position at the commuter rail division of Metro Transit in Big Lake and was offered the position.  

What do like the most about being “On the Clock?” 

Before working for Metro Transit, I was unaware of the culture of railroading. My favorite part of the job is when guests visit the Big Lake Vehicle Maintenance Facility for the first time and watching their reaction while taking them from the lobby into the shop. Somehow the trains seem twice as large inside the building, compared with when they are traveling on the rails along Highway 10. The other best part of my job is the opportunity to work with other people at Metro Transit through my role as the rail representative for the Equity and Inclusion team as well as representing Fit for Life at Big Lake VMF.  

What are your favorite activities when you’re “Off the Clock?’’ 

While recovering from knee surgery in 2014, I started writing a novel. It was a story that had been in my brain for a very long time, and I finally had time to get it onto paper. I was never formally taught to write and had no idea what next steps to take with the story, so I let it collect dust.  

In 2018, I came across a few YouTube creators who posted short videos about self-publishing and joined multiple Facebook self-publishing groups. I did some research and found that the indie-publishing world was a less threatening option than going the traditional publishing route. I finished the story, self-edited it and hired a friend who is a graphic designer to create a book cover. Writing under the pen name J.T. Salen, I self-published my first novel, “Apprehensive Heart,’’ in 2018.  

I then decided to create a series of contemporary young adult romance novels set in a fictional Stillwater. Book two of the Stillwater Series was published in 2019 and the third book in 2021. I am planning it to be a six-book series but have set it aside for now to work on a standalone adult romance and a young adult paranormal novel. For now, anyone who’s interested can find my books at 

Learn more about the unique off the clock pursuits of Metro Transit staff