Driving buses is ‘the best job I ever had’ says Brian Harris
Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 16, 2003
Brian &uot;Shuckey Duckey&uot; Harris says the secret to being a successful bus driver is to be a people pleaser.
And the 37-year-old Suffolk native -who’s known over the citizens band airwaves as Shuckey Duckey – would know.
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Harris has been driving tour buses across the country for the past 14 years. Although he drives for Eddie’s Bus Service in Chesapeake, he owes his start in the business to his best friend’s father, bus company owner Welton C. Gaines. In 1989, Harris drove one of Gaines’ buses on his first major trip to Montreal, Canada, and has been racking up the miles ever since.
&uot;This is the best job I have ever had and I hope to be doing it for a long time to come,&uot; said Harris, who recently drove the local social club, the Suffolk Les Gemmes, on its recent travels through the South. During their eight-day the jaunt, the busload of tourists visited Atlanta, Ga.; Montgomery, Ala.; Biloxi, Miss., and New Orleans, La.
Harris, a disc jockey on the side, has a way of making long trips seem short and full of fun: singing, jokes, even movies.
&uot;I love people, music and driving,&uot; he said. &uot;But most of all, I love entertaining people. With these careers, I can do a little of both.&uot;
Another asset to Harris’ driving career is his ability to keep the 57-passenger bus impeccable during a trip.
He begins each trip by telling passengers how he wants them to take care of the bus. If he scolds passengers for not following his rules, he always ends it by saying, &uot;Now after I told you this, I hope that I haven’t hurt anyone’s feelings, okay? Are we still all right?&uot;
When he is not on the road, Harris enjoys entertaining by spinning tunes.
&uot;I try not to charge much (for disc jockey services) because I love music,&uot; he said. &uot;But if I have to take off from my job to do it, I will have to charge.&uot;
Harris is the son of Evelyn West and the late Rudy West. He apparently inherited his musical talent from his father, a soloist and recording artist with the Five Keys, a group popular for its gospel, top 40 and rhythm and blues songs.
Skills required for long-distance driving include the ability to handle equipment, being a people person and knowing all your responsibilities, Harris said. He said it is also important to allow for at least eight hours of rest at home before setting out on each trip.
&uot;The best advice that I can give a person who wants to drive a bus is to remember that it is not about you,&uot; Harris said. &uot;It’s all about the passengers.
&uot;If it weren’t for Virginia and William T. Gaines, I wouldn’t have had the advantages of driving a bus like I am doing today. I would like to thank them for this opportunity and also Eddie’s Bus Service for giving me the opportunity to further my career,&uot; he said.
Name? Brian &uot;Shuckey Duckey&uot; Neil Harris.
Family? Wife, Sharell; one daughter, Tiffany Harris, 8; two stepsons, Donovan Clemons, 17; Kimani Wiggins, 20.
Education? Florence Bowser, Driver Intermediate in Suffolk; graduated from Western Branch High School in Chesapeake.
Career/Occupation? Bus driver and disc jockey.
Why did you pursue your career? Driving a bus was a childhood dream.
Favorite thing about your job? Knowing that I have done my job real well and seeing my passengers happy.
Least favorite thing about your job? When I’m sitting on the side of the road after the bus has broken down.
Volunteer activities? Playing music and participating in different functions at St. Mary’s COGIC on Nansemond Parkway.
Favorite thing about life in Suffolk? The area is peaceful and more settled than places that I’ve traveled. I also love its slower pace of living.
What accomplishments are you proudest of? Knowing how to do my job well. When I first started, people thought that I wouldn’t be able to do it because I didn’t look like a bus driver type.
Who or what motivates and inspires you? Welton C. Gaines, who trained me, and my mother, Evelyn West, who supports me.
Favorite way to spend your free time? Relaxing, going to the movies or going dancing.
What words of wisdom would you like to share with others? If you have a goal or plan, don’t let anyone stop you from reaching it. Go for it.
What ingredients are in a recipe for a good life? Love, happiness, not pretending to be someone that you are not, being the best person you can be and not taking any mess.
We all have our &uot;15&uot; minutes of fame. How would you spend your time in the spotlight? Singing to an audience, knowing that they are enjoying what I am doing to the point that they are feeling my music. We should be thankful for every moment in life. Spend each day loving and respecting for family, friends and humanity, regardless of race or creed.