Starting the day
I’m Beau Avery and being a shuttle driver is by far the best job I’ve ever had.
Before my shift I sleep in a healthy amount, drink a cup of coffee (typically from a gas station), and head to work. The last six and half years have been repetitive for me, but I wouldn’t trade them. I mean, I get to talk to students all day. And they’re all awesome.
I used to drive a city bus, but I was ready for a change of pace…something a bit more relaxing. I get to my shift 15 minutes early to inspect my bus, clean it out and make sure everything is running properly. I often find trinkets like earrings or pins that people leave on my bus, so I stick them to the roof above my dash — it adds character. You can spot me driving the blue route around campus in shuttle #17 from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday.
I’m thankful that my bosses are my friends. My supervisor is my best friend at work! That’s even more valuable than having the freedom to adjust my schedule when I need.
I’ve trained most of our other drivers and I make it a point to interact with them, like chatting over our radio. Not every personality is the same, but I can adjust to people’s quirks in their personalities no problem.
Why I do what I do
Driving students is my favorite because I can help ease their stress. My bus is a safe place. I mean it’s a safe place as far as safety is concerned.
My number one priority is safety. I wish people understood how big and heavy my bus is. It’s about 17,000 pounds without passengers, so it takes me a lot longer to stop than a regular vehicle. Sometimes people try to run in front of my bus, but they don’t realize I can’t just come to a complete stop quickly.
But shuttle #17 is also a safe place in the sense that you can take a breath when you’re aboard.
A student in her first year had a meltdown on my bus when she got her first B. She had never received any grade below an A before and her world was shaken. I was there to tell her it wasn’t the end of the world and college is hard but she should keep her chin up and not be hard on herself.
Memories with students
I’ve had some great times on this shuttle with my regular riders or “roadies”. Twenty to thirty students from Towers would pile into the shuttle around 6:00 p.m. for me to take them to the dining hall. They were a fun crowd, so I’d play bus karaoke with them. However, the frat boys didn’t enjoy the Disney songs. Apparently, they thought they were too cool to sing “Hakuna Matata”. I call them “dude bros” —- because that’s the bulk of their language. But everyone jammed out to “Bohemian Rhapsody” which was memorable.
One time a group of girls told their friend who had never been on the shuttle that if she pulled the cord the bus would stop. She took this literally. When my passengers pull the cord, a light pops up telling me that they want to get off at the next stop. But when she pulled the cord I hit the brakes and the look of shock and embarrassment on her face was priceless. “I can’t believe I actually stopped the bus,” she said, shaking her head. We all had a good laugh.
My riders treat me well too. One couple remembered that my birthday is in August so, when they came back to campus for the start of the semester they gave me a teddy bear who always rides with me as a loyal passenger along with another stuffed animal and snake skeleton that decorate my dash.
Lessons I’ve learned
Never make assumptions about people
Lately, I’ve learned to never make assumptions about people. I see some people quite a lot and it’s easy to meet somebody new and go off first impressions. You get to know them a little bit and you can still make assumptions over the course of getting to know them. Those can sometimes be hard to drop, but I’ve been learning to drop them.
It’s not all about how people dress or how they appear. It can be about how they talk or how they behave because we all come from a lot of different backgrounds.
I think every person should have the opportunity to invest some time in self exploration. We all have personal baggage, and it helps to learn more about yourself and other people. I think we’d be much better off if we did.
A piece of advice I’ve been told that I tell other people: “Don’t panic”. It’s not worth it.
I had to tell this to a student I befriended who would climb on my bus and ride around the route with me just to talk. He was a ball of stress and kept saying he was going to drop out of school. I told him the reality is that life isn’t easy, but you can’t give up. You must keep pushing through.
Work hard and don’t give up
I finish college. I went to a junior college and quit a couple semesters in and my life hasn’t been a bowl of cherries. I married young, had five kids and was always broke even though I worked hard. You just keep your head down and work hard. Like cows with their heads down eating grass — don’t stop eating.
I’ve been here long enough to have students fresh out of high school hop on my shuttle and see them grow and learn all the way to graduation day. I love seeing students graduate.
That student who was a ball of stress on the verge of quitting made it to graduation day. When I saw him he practically ran through my window to give me a hug.
Ending the day
Sure, it’s a repetitive job, but it’s only boring when I don’t have people on my bus to talk to. Every time I drive my route, it’s slightly different because I notice new things or have new people aboard. I’ve watched all the trees change color and the campus get updated. It’s beautiful.
After a long day, I’m not physically tired, my brain is tired from having to focus and be alert all day. I relax by kicking my feet up, have a beer and hit the sack. When I’m not working, I like practicing guitar and going to church on Sundays.
I might be getting too old for bucket lists, but I want to go to Europe if I have the chance. I’d like to go overseas because I’ve never been outside the country. I might not be walking as well by the time I go, but I believe it’ll happen.
But for now, I love traveling around the Boise State campus for my passengers — my friends.
Check out the following clip to watch Beau travel his route across campus!
Want to tag along on the blue route with Beau, or learn more about other Bronco Shuttle routes?