Retirement affords new opportunities. You can travel places you always wanted to go, make new relationships with types of folks that you would never have been drawn to before, renew old relationships that dropped by the wayside as life took sharp turns along the way. You can decide to try new things, return to childhood fantasies, or try on new personalities or roles that you would not have felt free to explore in pre-retirement years. There is an incredible freedom to release yourself from the constraints of the past and reinvent yourself for your upcoming years.

A childhood dream was to someday be a bus driver, for Greyhound or Trailways. This however would require too much time on the road and away from the beloved city. So this writer decided to become a Grand Valley Transit bus driver. Colleagues are bunch of grade school dreamers, just like yours truly, who wondered what it would be like to operate big machinery and fell in love with public transportation.

There is an earthiness about the job of helping people get where they need to go daily. You meet all kinds, all ages and human conditions. There are children off for the summer, people heading to work or home again, young probationer, law enforcement officers, people out for a daily joyride, people on vital medical missions, or grocery runs, people with legal or social service appointments, college students heading for class or work. A single route finds folks sitting next to one another who would not be in close proximity were it not for their need to get where they are going.

There are panhandlers, pick pockets, prostitutes and pimps. There are butchers, bakers, candlestick makers. There are mothers with babies and families taking R&R. Passengers are richly varied. Some first timers and others pro. Some will never darken another transit terminal while others will make daily round as the year roll along. Most passengers are “down dressers”. No suits or ties, or party dresses. Few uniforms or spit-and-polish. Just folks casually heading for nonspecific destinations creating a silent rumble through the city.