The Star Tribune has the story of Silas Sharp, who in 1963 was a soft-spoken shoe shiner who talked his way into a $2.57/hour job with Twin City Lines, a forerunner of Metro Transit.
Five decades later, Sharp is being honored as Metro's first 50-year employee. He's watched the agency change names three times and serve its 3 billionth customer, the Star Tribune notes. Sharp recalls the days when the agency used duct tape to keep broken doors closed and he has watched new generations of bus fleets come and go. But he remained.
“I never thought I’d be here a half-century,” Sharp told the Star Tribune. “It’s rewarding to me because I am contributing something to society. It’s been a very good experience. I would not change it for the world.”
Sharp currently oversees 50 mechanics and employees as the maintenance manager of the Nicollet Garage, and he makes no mention of retirement in the Star Tribune story, calling his colleagues his family.
In the video below, Sharp recalls the days of flooded dirt floors in maintenance garages, how he helped oversee dramatically increased bus reliability – and how he led a fight to get anti-freeze in buses.
Metro Transit, with nearly 2,800 employees, including just over 500 mechanics and cleaners, and about 1,450 bus drivers, recently honored several hundred of its long-serving employees.
Among the other standouts recognized by Metro this year is bus driver Jerry Olson, who was honored for 39 years of service without a traffic incident – a first for a Metro driver.
At 50 years, Sharp would likely top the longest-serving list at just about any agency or company, although it's not a record. Kimball, Minnesota, school bus driver Dean Mozena, this year marked his 55th year in the job.
And Thomas H. Merrick, a station superintendent at New York's MTA, retired earlier this year at age 91 after 65 years on the job.