Saturday, August 1, 2009

Local SPARTA Transit Authority Hires Elderly Bus Drivers

The Spartanburg Area Regional Transit Authority has recently announced their elderly driver employment program, hiring senior citizens to drive their Sparta buses within the city. After a two week training program, some 30 applicants have been narrowed down to seven drivers, all over the age of 75.

"We here at Sparta think this is a great way for our community elders to see that we care." says Sandra Gambino, spokeswomen of the local transit authority. "We understand how hard it is for them to get by on the meager budget that a social security check provides, and considering they probably have been driving since before most of us were born, we feel they are more then qualified. We're thrilled to help those that wish to come out of retirement to find gainful employment."

Ester Reno, one of the new elderly drivers, was available for comment, "When I was a little girl my daddy would let me steer while he worked the pedals. We had cars with cranks on the front back in them days." When asked how she felt about keeping the fairly punctual schedule that the Sparta buses are known for she replied, "I may have Alzheimer's, but at least I don't have Alzheimer's."

Another of the new drivers I was able to catch up with is Angus Byron, an 82 year old war veteran from Clifton. "I drove a tank back in WW2, I killed'em all at Normandy. I love driving, it keeps my mind off of all the killing I've seen." When asked if the two week training program was a challenge for him, he had this to say, "We mostly sat around and shared pictures of the grandkids. The teachers were doing their own thing, and they'd just let us know when it was time to go home." Shocked, I asked him if they did any actual driving in the training sessions. "Well, they showed us the buttons and switches and all, said we'd figure it out. I didn't have my specs on that day, but it reminded me of my ol' Lady Snake, which was what I named my tank back in the war."

I got back in touch with Sandra Gambino at the transit authority and asked if these drivers were really prepared for driving buses of unsuspecting passengers around the city. "They'll do fine." she said, "They may scrape a curb or two at first, but it'll work itself out. We're up for an award with all this, and a hefty grant, which will allow us to refurnish all of our offices, so don't screw this up for us kiddo, capiche?"

After a scowling look, and explaining that maybe this article wasn't the kind of press this project needed, Gambio called security and had me escorted from the building. It's this reporters sincerest hopes that no 'accidents' will befall him after the release of this article. I do hope the people of Spartanburg take care in keeping an eye out for these buses as they travel through the city, and pray for all the pedestrians on foot.

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