Today I got to attend Metro’s Operator of the Year ceremony. Since childhood, I’ve been seeing the pictures of winners in the ad slots inside buses, but I’ve never actually met an Operator of the Year, or (that I know of, anyway) had the privilege of riding on a bus that was driven by one.
To be selected as Operator of the Year is a huge honor. Winners are chosen by their peers (all of the operators of the month from the past year) and are celebrated (and roasted) at a fairly big ceremony, complete with blown-up photographs and specially printed napkins.
This year’s winner, John Fabre, is an OG Seattleite and has been driving buses in the city since 1970, back when Metro was still Seattle Transit. He currently drives route 99, also known as the Waterfront Streetcar, but he’s driven every type of vehicle that Metro operates–including (back when it was still under Metro’s jurisdiction) the Monorail.
John’s family (including his grown son*, who flew in from the East Coast) attended the ceremony, and so did the county exec, lots of Metro muckity mucks, and most of the previous operators of the year. Each of the different Metro departments gave John a gift (from Maintenance, a clean bus every day, from Facilities, a prime parking space with a special sign, etc.). He even got a ring, and (I kid you not) several people kissed it.
I got to meet John after the ceremony (didn’t kiss the ring, though). Today was also the first time I actually got to go inside a Metro base. (I can’t tell you what I saw, or the Busfather might send someone to rough me up.) Did I mention there were three kinds of cake? Except for the abundance of balloons (which I happen to have an irrational fear of), it was this bus chick’s fantasy party. I hope they put me on “the list” next year.
* This post was corrected on December 4th. I originally wrote that John had two sons.