Roosevelt “Rosie” Carey has enjoyed the view from the driver’s seat for 28 years. He is currently employed with Louisiana Motor Coach, based in Marrero, where he has worked for eight years. He previously worked for Dixieland Tours and Hotard Coaches.
“It’s the only job where you can take people on vacation and be on vacation, too,” he said.
Bus & Motorcoach News caught up with Carey 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?
In 2016, I spent three weeks in Canada with a large group of Cajun French from Lafayette, Louisiana. Collectively, they gave me my biggest tip of all — it was close to a month’s pay. It was a Catholic group trip with 33 passengers. Our three-week journey began in Lafayette and proceeded to Memphis, Tennessee, and Detroit before arriving at the Canadian border in Windsor. They appreciated how I went out of my way to give them a good experience.
What’s the strangest or most bizarre group you’ve driven?
The most strange and bizarre trip was when I traveled to Memphis with a group for four days. The passengers were very quiet and didn’t interact much. They spent most of their tour awkwardly sitting in their seats. It definitely was a trip to remember.
What’s your go-to phrase?
My go-to is the Rosie Exercise. I love to use this as an ice-breaker with my large groups to make everyone comfortable. (See video)
How did you become a driver?
Traveling often with family and friends, I was always the designated driver. My tolerance for a long-distance drive was higher than most. In 1991, at age 25, I realized I wanted to change career paths, and driving was it.
What are your previous careers?
My previous career was in retail. I had moved from store manager to district manager for an auto retail chain. I learned customer service and management during those years, and those skills carried over. Before driving, I developed the skill set to work with others and maintain the professionalism I possess.
How many miles or states have you driven a bus?
I have driven more than 510,284 miles in 33 states and three provinces of Canada.
What’s your favorite and least favorite destination and why?
My favorite destination would be Quebec City. I love the fresh air. There are areas with hills and mountains that are so picturesque. My least favorite would be Memphis. It’s is a cool place, but it is very small to tour with large groups.
What’s your favorite bus feature?
My favorite bus features are the high-rise and low-ride steer axle and being able to turn on Bluetooth features through the radio system.
What’s your favorite bus to drive?
My favorite bus to drive would be the MCI J4500 and Setra 416. They are the cream of the crop. It’s like driving a Mercedes with all bells and whistles, including a remote door opener.
What’s the best compliment you’ve received?
A group complimented me for how effective I was during their travel and how I went above and beyond to assure that they were going to have a safe and enjoyable ride.
What’s your funniest travel story?
On a previous Canadian trip, a passenger wanted to impersonate me. So he bought a shirt and hat like I was wearing and greeted people as they boarded the bus. He sat behind me like he was driving. We even gave him the mic a couple of times to talk to the passengers. They enjoyed it, also. It was funny. He made me laugh.
What’s your best piece of advice for a new driver?
Have patience with the passengers, take the time to learn the equipment, and always dress neat and professional. And finally, when in doubt, always ask a senior driver for advice.
What is your career highlight?
There were three ladies going to a Coors party, and they didn’t know how to get there, so I went out of my way to drop them off. Then my supervisor says he got a call asking me to pick up the young ladies in the shuttle. Turns out, they were Carolina Panther cheerleaders. They spread the word to the other cheerleaders, and I was invited the next day to drive the entire squad to the stadium. They insisted on taking a photo with me. Unfortunately, I lost the photo in the flooding from Hurricane Katrina. Another highlight was completing MCI’s course to become a Master Motorcoach operator.
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