“It’s a lot higher pace, a lot more area to cover,” Gross said. “It’s important. We all want to work because the community needs us. … The importance is the main ingredient and motivator. Everybody’s important and they’re doing something to combat something we can’t see so you have to be very diligent about it.”
Tanika Thompson, a bus driver for RTA for 19 years, said it’s been nerve-wracking at times working during a pandemic. But the importance of her job and her belief in a higher power has let her put any fear aside, she said.
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“I know that we have a job so I feel a little anxious or nervous but I get my boot straps up and get to moving,” Thompson said. “We have a job to do. There are people going to dialysis, going to grocery stores, going to get tested — we move the city so I got to do my part.”
Sometimes a car horn in traffic will blast to applaud her work, sometimes it will be a child boarding her bus that says thank you that reminds Thompson she is doing the right thing.
As much as riders have been showing extra appreciation, Thompson wanted to remind people to please cover your mouths either with a face mask, scarf or even T-shirt when riding.
“You may be comfortable with not covering yourself but always think of the next person,” Thompson said. “We have to look out for everybody because you never know what you have.”
To reduce any risks as much as possible, RTA employee Davonna Jenkins has temporarily switched from driving to voluntarily cleaning buses after her mother tested positive for COVID-19.
Even when the virus hit close to home, Jenkins never considered not coming to work.
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“It’s really a different than what we’re used to,” Jenkins said. “You don’t really hear people dying of the common cold but this is more scary even for me. Even if I don’t think nobody is touching something, I’m still going to wipe it down. I will spray a door knob 50 times and let the stuff drip just to know it’s covered.”
Jenkins, Thompson and Gross have certainly been shining examples, however, Cathy Garner, administrative assistant, said they are representative of the entire RTA family.
In her own way of going the extra mile, Garner has made more than 500 masks to give to RTA employees and their families. She now teaches classes of colleagues how to make their own masks.
“It’s always been a team of us,” Garner said. “Whenever I look at us when we’re on the map, It’s not one person it’s ‘us’ doing this.”
Stories of Hope
We all need inspiration in these difficult times. And as always, this community delivers. We are sharing these stories of hope in action, every day in the Dayton Daily News.