“A Driving Force at STA”
Dave Schultheis has learned a lot in his 33-year career as a coach operator for Spokane Transit. But some of his greatest life lessons have come from his son, Scottie.
“I try to encompass the same joy for life that my son has,” Schultheis said. “He gets up every morning, happy and excited to face the day. I want to be like that.”
Scottie has Downs Syndrome, and is a real blessing to Schultheis, his wife, Dorothy, and their other four children.
“I think Scottie has helped his siblings appreciate the gifts they’ve been given,” Schultheis said. “Also, he doesn’t worry about things like coronavirus, so we try not to dwell on such things too much either. You just need to have a little faith sometimes.”
Lately, Schultheis has been driving routes to Medical Lake and Airway Heights from the West Plains Transit Center. He likes that highway driving is involved – it’s reminiscent of the seven years he drove for Greyhound and NW Stage Lines before coming to STA.
He also likes working a route on a regular basis because it allows him to get to know his customers. They share jokes and have ongoing conversations that seem to brighten everyone’s day. That’s a good thing, particularly now, as his customers continue to cope with the stress of the lingering pandemic.
“Personally, I’m not overly worried about contracting COVID-19, but I do take extra precautions to protect my son, who would be considered ‘high risk’,” Schultheis said. “I change clothes as soon as I come home from work and talk to Scottie from a safe distance. That is really hard to do, especially considering how long this has been going on. But for now, Dorothy provides the close contact and protects him like a momma bear. For the time being, this is our new normal.”
So is wearing a mask. Schultheis wears one, and finds that it’s easier to ask his customers to wear one if he’s leading by example.
“If someone boards without a mask I ask if they forgot it. They’ll usually give me a confused look and that’s when I offer them one,” he said. “I think people respond better when you make it sound more like a friendly reminder than an order.”
Schultheis is grateful for the precautions STA has taken to safeguard both customers and staff.
“Crews have really worked hard to get driver protection shields in place on the buses. They’re kind of like what you’d see at a salad bar, and I’m thankful for that because they really do provide protection, especially if someone coughs or sneezes while paying their fare.”
Ever since STA resumed full-service levels, Schultheis has been working a lot of overtime. He’s worked six days a week nearly all summer, but he doesn’t mind. It’s money that will help build Scottie’s trust fund.
“My wife and I aren’t planning retirement for one or two people; it’s for the three of us,” he said. “I’m happy for the extra work, and I know that there are lots of people who are relying on STA and me to get them to work, too.”