Includes links to three podcasts and the video “Bus Stop Jobs”
Phillip Summers quit his public health research job to become a bus driver
One day back before COVID-19, one of my brilliant researcher friends at the medical school, Phillip Summers, came into my office to say that he had followed his research right out the door and into the driver’s seat of a city bus. And not just for a bit of immersive participatory research. He was quitting his job and becoming a no-kidding bus driver. What? If COVID has taught us anything, it is humble appreciation for the “essential” people on whom life depends, most of whom were too mundane to hardly notice before.
Turns out that our lives depend on the careful diligence of researchers who quietly assemble and reflect on data about how human communities work so that we understand ourselves at least as well as potential virus might. And what could be more mundanely essential than bus service? Curiosity and courage are essential, too. This book is also about that—one researcher turning on the lights that all of us need in order to understand who we are, how we are connected, and how we might find our way on the other side of COVID.
“I learned quite a bit about public transportation during my year behind the wheel,” reflects Summers on his bus and community health. “I witnessed the hardships of transit-dependent individuals. I saw the neglect the buses and passengers endure at the hands of policy makers who overlook their mobility needs. Doing adventurous things had always seemed glamorous to me, not frightening. Driving the bus would be an adventure, I thought. But it often beat me down and broke my heart.”
— Gary Gunderson