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The years on the bus go round and round

— Half a century in any job is a rarity, maybe even unheard of in some circles, but John Smith breaks the mold.

“When I finish in June, it’ll be 50 years,” said Smith, 75.

Smith has been a full- and part-time bus driver for the South Colonie School District since 1961, driving countless buses and routes. He doesn’t plan on quitting after this year, either.

It wasn’t easy finding any job in the ‘60s, said Smith, so once he found one he wasn’t letting it go.

“I like driving and it was a job that you could work other jobs along with,” said Smith, who worked full time for 36 years and part time for 14. “I worked nights in a gas station, I helped another guy who had furniture move furniture back and forth.”

Smith’s days start at 6:30 a.m. He finishes his morning drive around 9:30 a.m. and starts bus rides home at 2 p.m., with some midday field trips mixed in.

“It was a long day. Sometimes you had the same kids in the morning and afternoon and other times you didn’t,” said Smith.

With four children of his own, it might come as a shock that Smith was never their bus driver.

“It doesn’t work out too good, you having your kid on the bus, so I tried to avoid that,” said Smith.

The No. 1 attribute every bus driver should have is patience, said Smith.

“When you get 60 kids on the bus it only takes one to really aggravate you,” said Smith. “It’s the patience and it’s a stressful job; trying to drive, trying to make sure nobody gets hurt if they start fighting. You can’t be looking in the mirror all the time, you’ve got to be watching the road. Keep your eyes moving from mirror to mirror.”

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