Early in his career, Tim Dixon was driving a bus through the wash rack and got it stuck, a discouraging experience that caused him to rethink whether he was in the right line of work. But he stayed with it, moving from Cleaner to Fueler to Skilled Helper to Mechanic-Technician – acquiring skills that would eventually lead him to a first-place finish in Metro Transit’s Bus Roadeo. Looking back at his 36-year career, Dixon said he was grateful he stayed with it. “I’m glad I didn’t quit because it’s really been a blast,” he said shortly before his retirement. “I feel very fortunate.”
The fulfillment came not only from getting better at his work, but from the relationships he developed over the years. Dixon spent time at every service garage except for Ruter, and lived under a mile from East Metro. But he felt most at home at South Garage, where he spent the last 15 years of his career working as a Mechanic-Technician. “I put on more miles coming here one way than I would have all week going to East Metro, but it just felt like home here,” Dixon said. “It was a really tightknit group.”
The camaraderie didn’t keep Dixon from building connections throughout the organization, though. Over nearly a decade on the ATU Local 1005 board, he worked with management and union representatives to develop an employee resiliency program and other training initiatives. “I never really considered myself a leader but that kind of came with the job,” Dixon said. “You listen to people and see what you can do to help.”
There were plenty of light and memorable moments, too. When South Garage opened in the early 1980s, the facility was surrounded by undeveloped land full of wildlife, providing an opportunity to chase rabbits. During the blizzard that hit the Twin Cities on Halloween 1991, he spent 15 consecutive hours pulling buses out of the snow. And amid a massive rainstorm, he literally swam through the parking lot to close a bus window. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” Dixon said. “It was a deluge that never ended.”
At retirement, Dixon said he was looking forward to moving with his wife to a family cabin in Webster, Wisc., where he could devote more time to fishing and pursuing new hobbies like gardening, canning and smoking food. A lifelong lover of children, Dixon was also eager to spend more time with his four grandchildren. But saying goodbye still didn’t come easily. “The easiest part was getting hired on and the hardest part now is retiring,” he said.