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Rider's Almanac Blog

On Off The Clock

On the Clock/Off the Clock: John Coleman Jr.

Posted by John Komarek | Thursday, February 6, 2020 10:10:00 AM

Name: John Coleman Jr.
Lives: Minneapolis
Job: Bus Operator
Garage: Heywood
Years of service: 32

How did you come to work at Metro Transit and what do you do?
When I was 21 years old and in college, my first son Jurell was born. To provide for my family, I dropped out and found work at Metro Transit. What drew me here was great pay and benefits. I thought I was going to be here for a few years and now I’ve been here half my life. This job has helped me provide for my sons Jurell and Jhamar and buy a house. And, today, I’m one of the most senior bus operators in my garage.

What do you like the most about being “On the Clock”?
The best thing about being a bus operator is that the world comes to you. A bus is a place where people from all walks of life encounter each other. When I’m driving, I can interact with people with different backgrounds, ethnicities, and languages. In one day, you can meet a doctor on their way to work or an immigrant from a far-away country. Driving a bus can be like a mobile school, everyone has stories and information to share, if you’re willing to talk to them. Some riders even suggest books, which I read voraciously during breaks, especially if they’re non-fiction books about history.

What are your favorite activities when you’re “Off the Clock”?
Due to my baritone voice and love of singing, my nickname around the garage is “Barry White.” I credit my dad for my love of music and my talent. He was a blues singer from New Orleans who re-located to Minneapolis. My dad was my favorite singer and I think he had a million-dollar voice. 

For the last four years and counting, I’ve performed “Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing,” or the Black National Anthem at Heywood to celebrate Black History Month. It’s truly an honor to sing this song each February. The spirit beckons me to do something that can help give a voice to millions who struggled and sacrificed to make life better for me. When I sing this, it’s my small contribution and recognition of their struggle, from the sacrifices of people generations ago to my own father who recently passed away.



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