On one of my first visits to the transportation department I ran into my old friend William “Bill” Bane. “At least everyone wouldn’t be a stranger,” I thought.
School started in a few days, and there was a lot to learn: my routes and duties and school policies, and I wanted to become acquainted with my fellow drivers. Bill was a big help in those early days of school that year.
The drivers room in the transportation building is where drivers gather for meetings or hang out until leaving on their routes. The room has a large conference table with chairs positioned around it. I quickly noticed that most of the drivers had their special seats.
After a few days I spotted an empty seat and started sitting in it. It was interesting to visit with 10 to 15 new fellow workers at that table. Sometimes it seemed like everyone was talking and no one was listening.
One day during a rare quiet moment, I heard a female driver ask if anyone had change for a twenty. I dug into my pockets and counted my cash, but I only had about $17. However, I had a plan. I held up my fist full of small bills and coins and told her I had change.
Upon returning to her seat and counting the money, she appeared a bit startled. I was sure that she would look in my direction, so I looked away. I watched as she started counting it again. I figured she was considering the possibility that she had miscounted.
The woman now faced the dilemma of challenging a new employee and accusing him of shortchanging her $3. I’m not sure if she knew my name or vice versa. I watched as she started counting that pile of money for the third time.
After that third count the lady looked up with total distress showing on her face. When we finally made eye contact I exploded in laughter. She knew that she had been had and quickly filled the room with words unfit to be published here.
We both were laughing in a couple of minutes. I apologized and told her that I owed her $1.50. She quickly and loudly corrected me.
Michele Atherton and I became good friends over the years and are still employed by the transportation department. I often ask her if she needs change, but she never does.
During that time I had several friends and family members named Michelle, including our daughter and her friend. When I started working with Michele Atherton, I need to separate the Micheles when having conversations with them.
Our daughter remained Michelle; her neighbor became “Little Michelle,” and my co-worker became “One L,” which she is still known as. Bill Bane is still Bill Bane.