If you have ever taken a ride on the city bus, you may have noticed people with their heads down, scrolling through their phones, or with their headphones in.
The bus driver is at the front, separate from the other riders, focused on their route and mainly communicating during arrivals and departures. Most people seemingly do not want to be bothered during their commute, but what kind of people would you meet if you opened up the conversation?
Michael McMillan of Oklahoma City has worked for the city’s public transit authority, EMBARK, for what will be eight years coming up this September. Born and raised in Mississippi, McMillan moved to Oklahoma in 1985, following his brother’s lead.
“It’s a peaceful, quiet, slow, big country town. It’s easy living,” he said.
In his eight years of experience as a bus driver with EMBARK, McMillan has become familiar with our community and every corner within it.
“I’ve done this route for years, and I’ve met a lot of good people. I’ve seen some nice homes in areas you probably wouldn’t think. Areas of Southeast Oklahoma City—people think oh it’s the east side, but you would be surprised,” said McMillan.
Aside from driving buses for the city, McMillan also operates a party bus limo every other weekend. He has an extensive background in driving, which includes charter buses, semi-trucks and he even once owned his own street sweeper.
“I knew a gentleman from Fedex that had a street sweeper, and I bought it from him. I ended up getting a contract with Walmart doing parking lots and made six figures within two months,” he said.
Eventually, the vehicle began having mechanical problems, and the part he needed was nearly impossible to find. Still, he said he was able to make good money from the opportunity, and it was one of the best jobs he has ever had.
In recent years, the brother he moved to Oklahoma with, and had remained close with throughout his life, lost his battle with cancer.
“He didn’t know he was sick until he discovered he was already in stage four of his illness. He traveled, he enjoyed life. But he didn’t get to see his grandbaby, his son had just found out,” McMillan said of his brother.
While McMillan had endured his share of hardships, he continued to possess an optimistic outlook on life and moving forward. In 2017, he had a turn of luck when he purchased an Oklahoma lottery ticket, carefully selecting five numbers.
“They taxed me $29,000, but I won $100,000,” he said.
“You get five numbers, and I got four numbers right. Had I gotten all five I would have won $328,000.”
“And the number 69 is still haunting me to this day. I did 12, and it was 69. But I still have a picture of that big ol’ check,” added McMillan.
“2017, that was a good year.”