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Rider's Almanac Blog

On Off The Clock

On/Off the Clock: John Cook

Posted by John Komarek | Monday, August 19, 2019 3:08:00 PM

Lives: Wayzata

Job: Project Manager of Disability for Transit Operations

Years of Service: 26

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

Metro Transit is my third career. I started as a Navy SEAL in underwater demolition and served in Vietnam. After my service, I got into the hair cutting industry, which took me to places like England and Italy. I cut hair for some high-profile clients, like rock stars Rodger Daltry and Keith Moone of The Who. When I returned to Minnesota, I dyed my hair purple and continued to cut hair. I even groomed former Minnesota Twins star Kirby Puckett. 

After 29 years, I got bored. But I'm not the kind of person who retires. I became a part-time bus operator in 1992 at Shingle Creek Parkway (now Martin J. Ruter Garage) and have been here ever since. In addition to being an operator I've worked in street operations and as an assistant transportation manager. My current role is project manager of disability. 

What are your favorite activities when you're working or "On the Clock"? 

I truly enjoy helping people, and I'm able to help employees transition back to work after an illness or tragedy. As someone who has battled cancer, had reconstructive or replacement surgery and has lots of battle scars, I can relate and help people through difficult transitions. 

Sometimes it's helping someone who's battling cancer return to work, other times it's a transgender employee and their co-workers acclimate to a new identity. Whatever the transition, I'm proud to help people overcome these obstacles. It's an emotional job – sometimes you lose people – but I wouldn't give it up for the world. Any chance to help people is worth the effort. 

My life experience and Navy SEAL training has taught me that you can overcome almost anything with the right mindset and support.​ 

What are your favorite activities when you're not working or "Off the Clock"?

I love spending time with my family. I have two daughters, seven grandkids and two great grandkids. My grandson Eddie (above right) and I are interested in tattoos. They're quite addicting, and pretty much everyone in my family has ink. 

Eddie's a talented tattoo artist and I've told him to consider me his canvas. He's touched up a few of my tattoos and is currently working on a large arm tattoo of a knight and castles – he knows that I'm big into that period. One of my favorites is a Griffin (a creature with the body, tail and legs of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle) that he designed as a symbol of the family patriarch. I've spent more than 20 hours in the chair and am ready for more whenever my grandson creates his next great design.