POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Oct 12, 2012
For someone who earns his living in the driver’s seat, Scott Villarosa understands that control is a tenuous, fleeting, sometimes illusory thing.
For 13 years, Villarosa, 46, has been a city bus driver, a job that requires a Taoist ability to accept and work with the vagaries of traffic, weather and clientele.
“Some days, it just doesn’t seem worth it,” Villarosa allows. “But it’s the best thing I have going right now, and I give it the best that I have.”
For Villarosa, hard work has been a steadying force in a life of unpredictability.
Villarosa grew up in Kailua, the youngest of three children. His mother was a cafeteria manager at Kailua Intermediate. His father was an aircraft mechanic and later a vice president with Hawaiian Scenic Tours.
“They were eventually bought out,” Villarosa says of the tour bus company. “The new owners said they were going to keep everyone, but once the deal was done, they got rid of everybody.”
For Villarosa the incident, and his father’s reaction, was instructive.
“There are a lot of things you can’t control,” he says. “You just keep going and do what you can do.”
After graduating from Kailua High School, Villarosa worked a few entry-level jobs, eventually doing refrigeration work for Servco Pacific. He held the job for 12 years before his department was eliminated.
Villarosa, then with a young daughter, struggled to find work in a down economy. When he was finally hired by TheBus, he vowed to do whatever it might take to succeed.
Driving a bus is not easy, he says.
“It’s more demanding that it looks,” he says. “People think you’re just sitting around all day, but we’re constantly working against time. At the same time, you always have to be aware of what’s going on inside and outside the bus.”
Despite the pressures, Villarosa remains upbeat, helping lost tourists, welcoming his many senior riders and diffusing tense situations with empathy and a smile.
“The job can get to people, and sometimes drivers can be rude,” he says. “But I always think about the passengers. Sometimes at night I get people who take the bus because they have nowhere else to go, no one to talk to. … For a lot of people, it’s the only transportation they have.”
Villarosa wishes he had more control over his schedule, more time to ride his “local boy-style” custom Harley-Davidson motorcycle or hang out with his three grandchildren. Such, he says, is the life of the working man.
“I just keep it real,” he says. “It’s all I can do.”
Reach Michael Tsai at firstname.lastname@example.org.