Reflections and Expectations: Short Turn

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What an interesting last few months it has been. Join me in a look back at these last three months in the latest Reflections and Expectations.

April, May and June 2017

Birthday, April 4 – I turned 28 that day. That was pretty much about it.

Relay for Life of Mission Viejo, June 3 to June 4 – For the second year in a row, I participated in this local American Cancer Society-sponsored event to support the Canedy family — friends I’ve known for almost seven years.

Each year, the event raises money for cancer research in a variety of fun ways put on by the dozens of teams that participate. I was part of the Green for Bean team that the Canedy family has had going for more than a decade — taking turns walking laps around the track at Saddleback College, raising money for our own team and supporting others as well. I’ve financially supported the team since 2011 before finally being able to join them in the annual event last year. It’s always a great feeling and a great time being there.

MTI convocation ceremony, June 17 – This year, I attended the graduation ceremony for graduates of the Master of Science in Transportation Management degree program, administered by the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University. I was in attendance to cheer on my former classmates graduating after me, as I officially graduated last December. I already had my turn at last year’s ceremony, even though I had to return in the fall semester to finish out one more course. Still hasn’t hit me that I’m an alum of this program. I’d give it some more time.

VTA coach operator training, May 3 to June 13 – For a six-week period, I was among the class of initially 30 students who were training to become coach operators (bus drivers) for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA). This intensive nine-week program is conducted a few times each year, preparing students to become part of the next generation of bus drivers to fill vacancies created for any number of reasons (retirements, deaths, terminations, promotions among the common reasons).

During week six of this nine-week program, I was dismissed. That brought the number down to 27 students who remained standing as of that day I was cut (two students before me left on their own volition weeks before this).

This opportunity was months in the making. The recruitment process opened up for applications in late January, initial written exams took place in early February and interviews in early March. I spent the remainder of March and April obtaining a Class B driver’s permit, getting fingerprinted, submitting to a physical exam among other administrative matters before officially being on-boarded in early May.

I always knew this would be a challenging endeavor, perhaps the most challenging of my lifetime. But it was one I very much anticipated and looked forward to taking on once that day came. In my interview and throughout the training program itself, I often talked openly about how my lifelong experience and appreciation for taking transit would be an asset in this capacity once — and if — my roles reversed from passenger to operator. I went into this program with a genuine interest for the work at stake, even though I possessed no previous professional experience as a commercial vehicle driver.

When it was all said and done, I progressed as far as I did but not enough to the point where I could have become a full-fledged coach operator. I truly did give it my best shot in this expectedly challenging program. I learned a lot from this experience, some of which could be applicable in other areas of my life and career as well. 

I am heartbroken and disappointed that I wasn’t able to make it all the way through and possibly beyond. Nevertheless, it truly was an experience of a lifetime. I’m grateful to VTA, its training personnel and my former classmates for making this experience one that I will never forget. Hopefully not before long, I’ll get to see some of my former classmates welcoming me onto their buses one of these days. I’ll look forward to that.

July, August and September

Job search – That last item made this the third time in the last year and a half where I lost a job. Where will I go next? God only knows.

It’s summertime – No big plans yet. It’ll probably be a series of small things to keep me going. I’ll go find some more books to check out at the library. Yes, I started doing that again recently. First time in years, really.

Let me hear your stories. How have you been in these last few months? Any fun summer plans ahead? Share your thoughts below in the comments. I would love to hear from you.

O.C. Bus Drivers Take to the Skies for a Good Cause

OCTA coach operators Nelson Rosenberg and Joseph Levy

Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) coach operators Nelson Rosenberg and Joseph Levy both share some things in common.

They both drive buses for a living but are also pilots and have lost loved ones to terminal illnesses.

In December 2009, Rosenberg and Levy came together to establish the Hope Wings Foundation.

The Hope Wings Foundation is an Irvine-based non-profit organization which provides children will terminal illnesses such as cancer and leukemia free air transport to medical facilities throughout southern California at absolutely no cost to their families.

“I lost my third child and my parents to cancer,” said Rosenberg, the founder of the organization and a licensed pilot of 20 years. “I love kids and I felt this is a good way to give back and help others who are suffering from ailments that affect their lives.”

Levy, a fellow OCTA coach operator who works with Rosenberg, experienced similar tragic losses that resulted in the two coming together to help others.

“I’ve also lost loved ones to terminal illnesses,” Levy said. “As a student pilot with 10 years experience, Nelson and I decided to put our piloting experiences to good use to help save the lives of sick children out there.”

As a member of the Freemason society, this compelled Levy even more to really take actions to help others.

“As a member of the Freemason society, my goal is to help as many people as I can,” Levy said. “Providing a way to reduce the stress and burden of families who have terminally ill children by getting their children to where they need to go to get better is how we like to give back to society.”

For the month of December, the foundation is hosting the Kids for Kids campaign. All funds donated in the month of December will go towards purchasing toys and gifts to children in hospitals throughout Orange County.

For more information on the Hope Wings Foundation and how you can make a contribution to the foundation, please visit http://www.hopewings.org.

On a personal note, I personally donated $100 to the organization earlier this month. After interviewing both Levy and Rosenberg, I was very inspired by everything they had to say. They run a good service for children and I would encourage everyone to contribute to this cause during this holiday season.