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Meet Stanley, bus driver

16 Dec 2020

If you ever get the chance to ride Stanley Massaquoi’s bus, you’ll meet a very charming man. Despite the distance that separates us, he’s all smiles throughout our interview as we take a seat in his world.

When Stanley became a bus driver for the Société de transport de Montréal, he was living out his boyhood dream. He first explored CEGEP and university programs, then worked temporary jobs. His desire to grow and begin his career led him to reach for a goal he had had since his younger days: getting his Class 2 driver’s licence. Seven years later, he loves (and continues to love!) being a bus driver, where he feels he truly belongs.

His sociable nature emanates as he greets every passenger who climbs on board. His reward? When they take the time to thank or greet him, even if they go out the back door. These interactions, however quick they may be, mean the world to him. In normal times and even more so during the current situation, he’s aware that this kind of brief human contact may be among the only connection his passengers experience on a daily basis. It’s through his desire to brighten everyone’s day that Stanley stands out for his exceptional generosity and kindness. Imagine his shock when everything went into lockdown last March. “It happened so suddenly. When they closed the schools, it was a bit apocalyptic. There was no one on the roads or on the bus. I really didn’t like that period.”

While this past year has been a series of upheavals, Stanley believes it also brought out love. “I’ve been with my girlfriend for almost a year, but we’ve known each other for a number of years. We just bought a house together!” The couple considers themselves lucky to have been able to visit their future home—gloved, masked, and with sanitizer—when other buyers have had to settle for virtual tours. “It’s only once you’re inside that you notice things you can’t see in a picture and that you can imagine what you can do with the house,” Stanley believes.

Though the current situation has brought on its fair share of professional and social hurdles, he’s found it to be a valuable experience. “The pandemic is a good test for any couple! We don’t see anyone else; we are always together. With her, I realized that I had found a good partner; we make a very good team!” While he’s never felt the urge to decorate before, he feels like starting some new traditions this year with his girlfriend, stepdaughter, and dog.

In previous years, Stanley and his loved ones invariably met over the holiday season. “Since my family is Haitian, we eat Creole cuisine at Christmas. We enjoy griot, rice, kidney beans, fried plantains… and the traditional yule log cake for dessert. It is the best of both worlds!” 

Since they love having fun, they even found a unique way to spice up their gift exchange. Everyone draws a name to find out for whom they’ll buy a present. The difference in the Massaquoi family is that they also have to prepare a little performance so that the person they’ve picked knows the gift is for them.

Video clips, songs, animated films, magic tricks… they have carte blanche with the only limit being their own imagination. Not one for half measures, Stanley has already learned the song “Ma mère chantait toujours” by Ginette Reno... on the flute! “I took a class to learn the sheet music and practiced to be able to play this song that my aunt often sang when I was young for her in front of everyone!”

No matter the season or situation, we can’t always be with our loved ones. Humour, tenderness, and caring thoughts will always warm hearts and allow us to express our love in our own way.

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