MODESTO — Britt Brackett knows exactly what motorists are doing on Modesto streets.
She sees them when they are texting, eating breakfast or applying makeup behind the wheel.
Brackett, 44, is a Modesto Area Express bus driver. She loves her job because of its variety. "I'm not sitting and looking at the same four walls all day," she said. "Every day is different. And I like talking to people, so this is perfect for me."
Brackett has been a MAX driver for 8½ years. She works for Veolia Transportation, the contractor the city hired to operate MAX. Brackett recently spoke with The Bee about her job.
Q: How did you become a bus driver and what had you done before that?
A: I had been working retail for years and was getting tired of being on my feet all day. When my sister-in-law told me she got hired to drive a MAX bus, I thought, "I can do that too, and I won't be on my feet all day." So I applied and here I am, 8½ years of driving for MAX.
Q: What do you like best about your passengers?
A: I guess I'd have to say the conversations the ones I have with them and the ones I overhear! Pretty interesting stuff gets discussed on the bus!
Q: What do you like least about them?
A: When someone gets on my bus and thinks they don't have to follow the rules.
Q: Can you describe the relationships you develop with your regular passengers?
A: I have passengers who have been with me from day one. I know their whole life stories, sometimes their families too! I watch their kids go from grade school to graduating high school. They share their happiest news and sometimes their saddest. They are the ones I look forward to seeing every day.
Q: What's your biggest pet peeve about Modesto drivers?
A: The rudeness of drivers. They see the bus trying to pull back into traffic and they won't give an inch. Sometimes a nice person will hold back and let you in, but that doesn't happen too often. Or they cut you off just to get one car ahead at a red light. I get it that no one wants to get stuck behind a bus, but people need a bit more patience!
Q: What's the most shocking or surprising thing you've seen a driver do?
A: I am constantly shocked or amazed at the number of drivers I see texting or talking on their cell phones like it's no big deal.
Q: What's the biggest misconception the public has about using the bus? For instance, it takes too long to get to your destination or all the passengers are homeless or poor people.
A: It's a misconception that our buses only run on main streets, when in reality with our vast amount of routes we cover many outlying neighborhoods and communities throughout Modesto.
Q: Because of your experience and training as a bus driver, is it hard for you to be a passenger in a car driven by a family member or friend?
A: This question made me laugh! I am the worst passenger! I am constantly telling my husband that he's too close to the other cars and that he needs to slow down!
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2316.