Ever since I came to work at Wagner, in January 2007, the ferry shuttle service has been integral to campus life, offering nearly round-the-clock transportation between the campus and the Staten Island ferry terminal.
I myself have taken it often, whether on Wagner business or for after-work outings. For a long time, I have thought that a day on the shuttle would be a good way to generate a story for Wagner Magazine. You just never know whom you might meet, and I’ve often had interesting conversations with my fellow riders during these 10-minute trips. This fall, I finally picked a day and did it.
Here, I’d like to share a little more about the drivers. Most of them are retirees from government agencies, people who devoted their careers to public service of various kinds. In general, they aren’t chatty; they keep their eyes on the road and make sure everyone has a safe trip. But, they all have stories, and I was fortunate to hear some of them during my day on the shuttle.
On one ride where I was the only passenger, I took the opportunity to chat with shuttle driver Mario Colasuonno, a retiree of the U.S. Postal Service. I asked, “What do you prefer, letter carrying or driving the Wagner shuttle?” He laughed. “You know what, I had a good time being a letter carrier. I enjoyed it,” he told me.
He reminisced about walking his route in Brooklyn, picking up the mail to be delivered from the green relay boxes on the street corners. When he came to Staten Island in the late 1970s, he drove a Ford Pinto to deliver the mail. (Those vehicles didn’t work very well, he said. “How small were those? Very small.”)
“Being a letter carrier, you get to meet all sorts of people,” he mused. “The beauty in my eyes — it’s almost corny — you get to know them and they get to know you. ‘Come on in!’ Christmastime, Thanksgiving, New Year’s, you know, ‘Sit down and have a meal.’”
I appreciated the opportunity this story gave me to get to know the Wagner community. Like Mario, I’m glad I have a job where I meet all sorts of people. It is, indeed, beautiful to listen to others’ stories, sharing in the banquet of life.