7 Days Left on a Groome Van

I am extremely grateful for the summer job with Groome Transportation, as a shuttle van driver in the Macon, Georgia office. I’ve driven oodles of miles, a wide and interesting collection of passengers, and some of the heaviest baggage I have ever handled – and that’s not including the luggage!

This is the sort of job where the one intangible – sitting on your butt, keeps you coming back for more. Doesn’t pay but minimum wage, but it can be fun. Just don’t think about the 12 hour shifts and the fact that a fry cook at Krystal is probably making more than you right now. Blessings come in odd packages sometimes.

I will say this much though. When you think about it, transporting ten passengers,and a load of luggage in a rear compartment, in an old Ford van (most of which have anywhere from 300,000 to 800,000 highway miles on the odometer), is a risky and dangerous business. The odds of something not good happening, over the course of hundreds of miles driven a week in 50+ hours get better the longer one drives. Groome drivers get no raises – ever. Minimum wage. And other than whatever tips they receive, get no benefits. They do get a gold colored steering wheel pin annually if they havent gotten a ticket or killed anyone.

So my benefits from this summer job? Getting paid to drive long hours in an air conditioned vehicle – since my summer home with Dad in Macon had little to no AC at all. Plus, although I had to juggle bills like a circus clown this summer, I was able to get them paid – somehow. (Thanks to friends and family for additional support!) And I met some fascinating people every day. I literally carried at least one person from every continent in the world to or from Warner Robins this summer – and even one who had spent time in Antarctica! I met some interesting drivers. Several of whom were former or retired military. One retired Navy man always came to work with his electronic gadgets – iPhone, Nook, iPad, laptop. He personally knew and served with one of the Medal of Honor Chaplains I must memorize from my CH-BOLC Smart Book. Also, during breaks I read two Army books, completed one journal from start to finish, and made CH-BOLC study flash cards. I also began using military time and walkie talkies, and worked long and odd hours. Met many military members and ministers who encouraged me and even tipped me. Ministered to some passengers in need of basic counseling, guided a couple drivers towards better nutrition, and tonight, in just a short moment in Atlanta at the airport, introduced myself to an Army Lt who, with her unit, was about to go right back to Iraq. She said, “Seriously-pray for me Chaplain. Say a prayer for us because I believe in the power of prayer and I am always telling my soldiers to go see a Chaplain for prayer.”. I laid my hand on her shoulder and offered a quick prayer and blessing. I got back onto my Groome van and told them who I was and that my head was with the van riders but my heart was with those troops. It started an amazing conversation that lasted the trip back to Macon. And I got decent tips too. An elderly woman who struggled to get onto the van stood tentatively once we arrived in Macon. I told her not to worry and asked her if she enjoyed hugs. She said yes. So I gave her a big hug and lifted her down off the van onto her feet. She was happy and safe. Her daughter, also on the van, had shaved her own head to show solidarity with her sister (who, even with advanced cancer, met the upon arrival) who had lost her hair due to chemotherapy. This is the sort of experience that driving for Groome provides. Pays little. But it is fun and the benefits God provides are priceless. I have seven days left and honestly, I will miss it. Never thought I would say that. But I am a people person, and I could go on and on with passenger stories. But those are for me. Every driver’s experiences are unique and meant for them. Learn from them. Embrace them. Let them shape who you are.

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