Ron DeLeon: Be kind, always
Rin (left) and Ron's son, Thiago (right), smile with Ron.
To say that Ron DeLeon enjoys his work is a significant understatement.
“I love driving, I love transportation, I love dealing with people,” Ron says, practically unprompted.
“I love my job!”
Ron has been driving for CATA going on 21 years. The Sexton High School grad is an animated guy with a passion for life, laughter and storytelling. And his passengers give him a steady stream of tales to share.
In the span of 10 minutes, he bounces from one story to another, including one from 2016 about a then 4-year-old immigrant boy named Rin who loved chewing gum.
“That one really got me,” he said.
Ron often drives routes through Michigan State University’s campus. For a time, when he drove past Bessey Hall in the morning, he saw a young boy and his mom waiting for the bus. The boy would always wave.
“One day, I stopped and gave him candy – I asked his mom first,” Ron said. “So, it turned into, whenever I saw him, I stopped to give him gum, candy ... whatever.”
On one particular morning, Ron pulled over with his usual treat, but Rin gave Ron a pack of gum instead. His mom took a picture to commemorate the moment. She shared the post on social media, along with a story that got Ron’s attention.
She shared that she and her son had only been in the U.S. about three months, and her son was having a hard time adjusting to everything – including learning to speak English.
That morning, he didn’t want to go to school, but his encounter with Ron made his day, his mom wrote.
“You never know how you’ll impact someone’s life,” Ron said. “A kid waving at a bus – you wouldn’t assume he was having a difficult time.”
Now Rin has play dates with Ron’s son, Thiago. He has adjusted to his new school and enjoys going every day.
What prompts riders to share so many pieces of their lives with Ron?
“I just enjoy talking to people,” he said. “I didn’t expect that when you’re that warm and receptive, you’re like a bartender or a therapist. They tell me everything.”
Ron mostly drives bus routes through Michigan State’s campus and is well-known by many students. He's also been named Best CATA Bus Driver in the City Pulse’s Top of the Town contest for four years in a row.
“I take my responsibilities seriously,” Ron said. “The safety of the riders is in my hands, but I love what I do.
“I’ve never had a bad day yet.”