In his 28 years working for the Cape Elizabeth School Department, Ray Michaud has done it all, from maintenance, grounds and janitorial work to plumbing and trouble-shooting boiler problems. But when Michaud, who will retire June 18, began subbing as a school-bus driver a couple of years into the job, the former truck driver knew he had found his calling.
“After all, what other job can you get where the cargo unloads itself?” said Michaud, 75, whose previous truck driving jobs had been for asphalt and heating oil companies.
After two and a half decades of full-time bus driving, Michaud, whom Community Services Director Janet Hoskin calls “Ray of All Trades,” could write a guide to Cape Elizabeth bus routes, streets and neighborhoods.
“During his tenure, he has driven every bus route to or from school, so he has driven into each nook, cranny and neighborhood of Cape Elizabeth,” Hoskin said.
Michaud’s words of wisdom for future school bus-drivers?
“As long as you control the kids at the start, you’re all right,” he said. “The kids try to see how much they can get away with: swap seats, get loud, get up on the back seats and bounce around. They challenge you.”
For years, Michaud had another Cape bus-driving gig. He drove senior citizens to and from Mill Creek in South Portland on Tuesdays and to the Maine Mall and back on Fridays during the years when Community Services provided that service.
“All those who used this service loved him,” Hoskin said. “He would carry their bags for them and treat them with the respect and T.L.C. they deserve.”
Michaud felt good about those rides, which were eliminated four years ago.
“That was a good duty,” he said. “The older people needed a way to get around and do their grocery shopping, and there was no cost, so that was a good service for the people. They were very appreciative.”
The son of a West Winthrop farmer, Michaud, who lives in New Gloucester, hopes to spend a lot of time back in the garden after he retires. With land to clear on his property and a “good-sized” vegetable garden, he will stay busy while his wife, Deborah, who is “quite a bit younger,” works as an aide at Maine Medical Center, he said.
But he won’t be growing many green beans in his retirement.
“Didn’t have pickers back when my father had his market garden, so had to do the picking by hand. Worst job was picking string beans. Back-breaking work, really. Seemed like the bucket never filled up.”
The trips back and forth between New Gloucester and Cape Elizabeth may not be back breaking, but Michaud looks forward to the end of all the commuting.
“It’s 26 miles from my house to Cape Elizabeth, and it takes 40 minutes one way, and it has gotten to be quite an expense,” he said.
Michaud will miss Cape, however.
“Nice town. That’s why I stayed here. I’m going to miss the people. They’re all good.”