David Beach has enjoyed the view from the driver’s seat since 2005. He started driving a school bus when he turned 18 in his senior year of high school. He currently drives for Holiday Motorcoach in Salt Lake City. In the past, he’s driven for Smith Coaches and Le Bus, both in Utah, and HAP Alaska.
Bus & Motorcoach News caught up with Beach to talk to him about why he loves driving a motorcoach, his career highs and lows, and his passion for the business.
What’s the biggest tip you received and the story behind it?
It was $17,000 for a 62-day tour with 54 passengers, but that’s boooooooring. However, my best tip story is about a missed opportunity. Two years ago, I was driving a 70-ish-year-old lady on a 14-day tour. On day 3 or 4, she requested I have dinner with her and her friends at the Old Faithful Dining Room in Wyoming.
Apparently, she had been widowed for a while and kept asking questions about me. I usually answered. Her friends kept saying how loaded she was, and started calling me her tour boyfriend — to which I replied, “Aww, my mother would be proud.”
At the farewell dinner, she sat at my table and talked about how lonely she was going to be once she got home, and asked if I could keep her company. When I got up to my room, I opened her tip envelope and found a $700 check with a note saying, “There’s more where that came from, sugar.” Perhaps 2020 would have looked a little different if I would have taken her up on it.
What’s the strangest or most bizarre group you’ve driven?
Have you met me? I thrive on the strange and bizarre. I frequently drive Utah’s Big Gay Fun Bus
to West Wendover, Nevada, in full drag.
What’s your go-to phrase?
I got it, just watch.
How did you become a driver?
I was cleaning transit buses in Idaho when, on my 18th birthday, my boss pulled me in and told me I had to get a CDL so I could move and fuel the buses. I got my CDL, then two weeks later, a bunch of drivers walked out. I came into work to clean buses, had a map thrown at me and the rest is history.
What are your previous careers?
I’ve driven school buses and motorcoaches since I was 18. It’s the only career I’ve known. In
high school, I drove potato and grain trucks during the harvest. At first, it was a gig to get through college, but here I am. I did go part-time for a bit to work as a juvenile justice treatment
How many miles or states have you driven a bus?
Every state but Hawaii, and parts of Canada and Mexico.
What’s your favorite destination and why?
Obviously, I love the Canadian Rockies, but I unexpectedly fell in love with Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Mackinac Island. I loved the island because there weren’t any cars and it was so peaceful. The UP was just so beautiful I didn’t expect it. It wasn’t on my radar.
From your experience in the driver’s seat, what’s your favorite bus feature?
I love the MCIs spiral entryway and handrail. My tour directors give me hell that I “glide” up and down the stairs.
What’s the best compliment you’ve received?
You should marry my granddaughter/grandson.
What’s your funniest travel story?
I was on day seven or eight of a fairly high-end tour. We had done a Vegas-by-night tour optional and got back late, and had an early bag pull and departure for the Grand Canyon the next morning. I woke up, packed my suitcase, jumped in the shower and was singing along to my “morning get-ready soundtrack.” When I got out of the shower, my suitcase was gone. So, I had to call my tour director who I wasn’t on the best of terms with and ask her to go to the bell staff, ask them to look through the suitcases, find mine and bring it up to my room so I could get clothes out of it and get dressed. We laughed about it for the rest of the tour. We are now close friends, and she incorporates that story into her spiel about bell staff and bag pull.
What’s your best piece of advice for a newbie?
Set yourself up for the worst scenario and think two steps ahead. That way, you’re not surprised, and you have room to maneuver and compensate. And make sure you find a company that cares about you as a person, not only as a driver. There will always be another tour or charter, but you don’t know if there will be another family trip, birthday or whatever.
From your experience in the driver’s seat, what’s your favorite bus to drive and why?
Don’t get me wrong, I love a new shiny bus, but none of them compare to the old 1960 Crowns.
That’s why I own two of them and will eventually live in one one of them.
What’s your career highlight from your years in the driver’s seat?
Graduating from the International Guide Academy and starting my own tour company.
What question should we have asked and what’s your answer?
What have you done to keep busy during the pandemic? Luckily one of the school districts had convinced me to come sub last winter, so they have been able to keep me busy delivering lunches and driving high-risk special needs kids. I also started hiking and getting skinny-ish.
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If you are a motorcoach driver and would like to be featured in From the Driver’s Seat, contact Shandra Martinez at firstname.lastname@example.org.