Growing up, Russ Dixon’s father taught him to be more than a bystander. The lesson stuck with him through adulthood, leading Dixon to get involved in a variety of different activities during his 30-year career as a bus operator. Dixon served on the Transit Safety and Security Committee, a group that regularly met to discuss diversity and spent 18 years as a steward with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005. “My dad always used to talk about how important it is to get involved in whatever system you work in, so that’s what I did,” he said.
Dixon’s career path was also influenced by family. After growing up in Chicago, he followed his brother to Minneapolis and applied at the Metropolitan Transit Commission on the advice of his brother-in-law. A month after submitting his application, he got a job as a part-time bus operator at the old Shingle Creek Garage. A few years later, he went full-time, briefly working at the old Snelling Garage before moving back to Shingle Creek. When a favorite dispatcher retired, Dixon transferred to Heywood Garage. The move led to more opportunities to engage with the community, which became something of a specialty. One of his most memorable experiences was the years he spent driving the specially-decorated Twinkle Bus in the annual Holidazzle Parade (including one year in which he took the bus through the community, following the Route 5).
While Dixon enjoyed the unique opportunities that came his way, he got just as much enjoyment out of his day-to-day work. He spent most of his time driving routes that served North Minneapolis, where he lived. “What was fun about that was how you got to know people,” he said. “I looked forward to seeing my customers. We’d laugh and joke all the way until they got to their stop. It was really a blast.” Dixon had just as good a time with his co-workers, whom he treated as family. That closeness led Dixon to become a strong and vocal advocate for his peers and to take his role as a mentor seriously. “I always used to preach that you had to give the best eight hours you had because this could be not just a job, but a career,” he said.
Dixon retired in February 2017, with plans to spend more time traveling. At his retirement, he said: “The people here are more than co-workers, they’re family. That’s what I’m really going to miss.”