Applying on a whim, Kristen Sowell had never thought to get behind the wheel of a TARTA bus.
“I wish there was a really good story behind it,” she said of her job search. “I just googled ‘jobs in Toledo.’”
It’s been nearly five years since that quick internet search and as it turns out, her job as a bus operator has turned out to be a great fit, much to the excitement of her mother.
“It was cool getting the job because my mom, she’s like TARTA’s queen,” she said with a laugh. “That’s what she called herself because she rode the bus all the time.”
Like any job, she admits that it isn’t always easy. But she says it’s the passengers that make it all worthwhile. Kristen is known to make connections with her riders; learning about their lives and making it a point to start conversations. Her attentiveness has paid off both in rider experience and in life-changing situations.
In late September one of Sowell’s regulars had a medical emergency on her bus and was taken to the hospital where he spent several days recovering. It’s possible that her quick thinking in that situation may have made all the difference in his recovery.
“I feel like I was placed there, and he was placed there, and we were meant to talk, meant to communicate and meant to be on a friendly-enough basis for me to notice,” she said of the experience.
It’s those acts of kindness and her dedication to her position that have caught the attention of her supervisors, passengers and co-workers and made her the easy choice for October Operator of the Month.
“Kristen has a fantastic personality and she loves her job,” TARTA superintendent of transportation, Tom Metzger said. “She has made an impact on her community and will be [with us] until she retires.”
Metzger adds that Sowell has had perfect attendance over the last three months and is a one-year safe driving recipient.
“Kristen is loved by her passengers is well deserving of being named Operator of the Month,” he said.
While the title is appreciated, Sowell says she’s just doing her job. She does however enjoy the dedicated parking near the door. From here, there’s no where for her to go than up.
“This is great, I want to be a driver, but my goal is to be – I want to be higher and keep going, keep going, keep going.”
When Sowell isn’t at work, she’s at home with her five children. She also calls herself an avid reader and loves everything the local library system has to offer.
Great work, Kristen! We’re happy to have you on our team!
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