Martin Martinez Jr. is marking his 18th year with Pacific Coachways in Garden Grove, California. He was motivated to apply for the company after spotting one of their buses.
Previously, he had worked in the transportation business, driving semis and a wheelchair van.
“I worked in the Long Beach area and I had just dropped people off at the university there when I saw a Pacific Coachways bus. The wave design caught my attention,” said Martinez, who applied for a job and got his passenger endorsement so he could join the company.
“We’re like a family. While the drivers are different, we work well together. The Giddens family treats us well and works around our schedules. They keep us involved in things. I was even asked to speak at a United Motorcoach Association event.”
Bus & Motorcoach News caught up with Martinez 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?
The coolest thing I received as a tip was a special gift from the student orchestra of Pacific Lutheran University, outside of Tacoma, Washington. They gave me a poster with the 49 players of the orchestra, and they put me right in the middle. They drew themselves with their instruments. That was one of the coolest things. I would say it’s priceless.
What’s the strangest or most bizarre group you’ve driven?
I had a group of geology teachers from Slovenia, and they didn’t really have a sense of time. If they had a dinner set up for eight o’clock, they weren’t worried about running behind schedule. They were just, like, that’s OK. We’ll get there when we get there. They said, “We don’t mind eating at 10 o’clock at night.” But the restaurant might not be opened then.
What’s your go-to phrase?
I don’t think I have one.
How did you become a driver?
I began driving semi-trucks, but I preferred driving people because I like talking to people. I enjoy telling and hearing stories.
What were your previous careers?
I started off in the medical field. While I was saving to get into a medical training program, I worked at the Paramount Swap Meet as a security guard/EMT.
How many miles or states have you driven a bus?
I’ve driven through 15 states and parts of Canada.
What’s your favorite and/or least favorite destination and why?
My favorite destination is Yosemite National Park because it’s so beautiful. My least favorite place is San Francisco because of the parking situation.
What’s your favorite bus feature?
Improved power steering. It makes it a lot easier to drive the bus.
What’s the best compliment you’ve received?
I had a lady on a tour who cross-stitched during a 13-day trip. She said it was one of the best trips she had ever been on because of my smooth driving. It was so smooth her knitting bag never moved around, she said.
What’s your funniest travel story?
I was on a 14-day trip when we had a few issues, including a tire that blew out. One particular guy always seemed like he was upset. We tried everything to make it up to him. I handed out water and oranges, trying to keep everybody happy. At the end, the guy gave me an envelope with one of my biggest tips. He wrote a really nice note, complimenting me on how well I handled all the issues.
What’s your best piece of advice for a new driver?
Before you apply for a job, research the company to see how many breakdowns they have. You can find information on the Department of Transportation website. If they don’t take care of their buses, they aren’t going to take care of you.
What’s your career highlight?
In 2016, I was Trailways Transporation’s Bus Driver of the Year. And in 2019, I was the California Bus Association Driver of the Year. I really appreciate that Pacific Coachways nominated me for both awards.
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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.