My journey into retirement was much like many other folks that have met or counseled over the years.I had been a United Methodist Clergy for 45 years and was ambivalent about  retiring when it became evident that a change needed to be made. I requested retirement from my superiors and was considered, but the only church they had for me was in a remote area of the state with no immediately available healthcare. I had developed a heart condition, while not life threatening, did require steady medical attention. I could not accept their offer, and no followup offer was forthcoming. Retirement, therefore, became my best option. as fI was faced with the reality that church retirement and Social Security combined were inadequate to my needs once the pay checks stopped flowing.

What, I wondered, was I going to do?  I was fortunate that my last position was part time and afforded me the opportunity to try out several part time employment options before going Cold Turkey. I tried my hand at cleaning, property management, house inspections, school bus driving and security.  When retirement finally came I knew that I needed a steady reliable income and a schedule I could plan around.  I called upon my interest in driving and relating to people  as I considered the  options that the Grand Valley had to offer.

The country  had entered the worst financial crisis since the great depression and options were severely limited.  My plight was worsened as I was forced into bankruptcy and went in to foreclosure. I registered with a temporary employment agency with no result.  I went from door to door and no one was hiring. I thought of returning to my former position as a school bus driver but did not like the two month summer layoff.  Finally I entered the First Transit office  (now MV Transportation), the contractor for Grand Valley Transit, and need met availability.

Driving a fixed route has enabled me to get to know my passengers and become interested in their lives. My natural interest in people allows me to develop brief relationships that deepen over time. During my first year I took advantage of a new Clinical Pastoral Training course being offered by Rocky Mountain Spiritual Caregivers. The two years of Saturday classes refined me people listening skills and allowed me to focus quickly without distracting me from the road.

I have also become fascinated with bus people and those I encounter on the street.  They have taught and inspired me to the extent that I have decided to begin sharing some of those inspirations with you. I hope that you will find this column as interesting as I find those with whom I come in contact.