Upon graduating from college, I returned to Berlin full of life and ready to rock the summer. Conveniently (or otherwise), I neglected to find a job before shoving off for law school in late August. That ended with a thud when my father calmly, and politely, told me to "find a job before 5:00 p.m. today."
After he left for work, I whipped out the local paper and spotted a large ad for Mayflower Moving calling for "summer help." I made my way to the yard and within hours, I was on a truck, headed to a job in Fairfield County.
The 60-hour weeks were long and the $5/hr pay was short, but the work was honest...and never dull.
Mayflower had an old school bus, painted green with the company logo emblazoned on the side. When there was a large corporate move, the bus would take us to our assigned locations to complete the job.
One Friday morning a dozen of us were gathered in the yard waiting for the day's assignment...and...the tardy bus driver. Tick tock. The agitated boss pronounced that he needed one of us to volunteer...to be the bus driver. Tick tock.
Because, you see, the company was losing money with everyone just standing around like this, and the boss said the corporate client “was on his back” to get the move started. Tick tock. Now the bus was about 35 feet long, 9 feet high and 6 feet wide. Slightly larger than the '76 Nova I drove to work that morning. Tick tock.
Someone asked if a special license was needed to drive the bus. A mumbled answer. No one stepped forward. Tick tock. Someone asked about the location of that day's work. Up the interstate, 41 miles away. No one stepped forward. Tick tock.
Another guy asked whether he would have to drive the bus back to the yard at the end of the day, or whether the “real” driver would show up to take care of that. “Unsure” was the answer. No one stepped forward. Tick tock. The boss huffed and puffed, toggling between tough love and desperation. No one stepped forward. Tick tock.
Finally...I stepped forward. The boss threw the keys at me...and vanished. The motley crew piled into the bus...and off we went.
Up the interstate, with the lyrics from The Who's “Magic Bus” looping in my head (“I'm so nervous, I just sit and smile. Too much, Magic Bus.”). Anyone passing us must have thought the bus was the offspring of the buses in the “Partridge Family” TV show and “Dirty Harry” movie.
All's well that ends well, and that day ended well. I made it to Springfield and back without incident or law enforcement intervention, safely returning the crew...and the Magic Bus...to the yard after a long day.
Today, not so much. The Delta variant. Supply chain issues. Mask mandates. Bitter partisanship. Inflation. Lockdowns. Skyrocketing crime. Labor shortages. Tick tock.
If you're going to be a leader, you need to be present and in service to those who rely upon you. Today, more than ever.
You need to show up during the good times and the tumultuous times. You can't duck and cover; you can't run and hide. You need to step forward. You need to forge ahead with the utmost energy.
You need to drive the Magic Bus for others. If not you, then who?
Carl Ficks helps athletes and aspiring athletes set and achieve their goals. He once could not run two miles without stopping, but has since run and cycled thousands of miles and competed in dozens of road and bike races of all shapes, sizes and distances, from three to 100 miles. Carl moved to Berlin in the 4th grade but later ran away to practice law in New Britain for many years. He's also a proud member of The Generale Ameglio Society. When you're ready to get back in the game, go to carlficks.com.