Madelain Tigano–The Corsair
Photos by Richard Rodriguez
Whether it’s broken down, driving through a tornado storm, or just experiencing another day on the road, PJC’s 1985 MCI bus has taken college faculty and students all over the country. But it’s not just the bus that carries the people, it’s the man steering it.
John Noski, 53, is the only full-time bus driver for PJC and has been since 1990. Approaching his 20th year at the college, Noski doesn’t have a traffic ticket to his name.
His perfect record doesn’t come from a test, but from the experience of touring with his former gospel and country-western bands since age 16.
In the early 1970s he got a chauffeur’s license, which was later switched to a required state commercial license used for operating any type of vehicle with a weight rating over 26,000 pounds.
In those days, Noski played the bass and drums for a living. It wasn’t until he met his wife, Stephanie, in 1987, that he sought an occupation elsewhere.
“I enjoyed the music that I played and all the shows that I’ve done, but working for the college has been the best gig for me,” Noski said.
There have been good times on the job, but Noski is always aware of the serious responsibilities involved in keeping his passengers safe. He remembers the time in either 2001 or 2002 that he had to drive PJC’s softball team to Alabama Southern for a game right through a fierce storm.
“We ran across a tornado that had hail, and the hail was like the size of baseballs,” he said. “Luckily nobody got hurt. The bus got damaged; it broke a few windows, but we got through it.”
Noski remembers the girls hugging and thanking him after their safe arrival, and said it was probably the scariest trip he’s endured.
Noski’s efforts are appreciated by many on campus.
“I’ve known John, or ‘Dr. Noski’ as we all call him, for 20 years. He is the best I have ever seen, had, or heard of,” said Athletic Director Bill Hamilton. “I’m his boss, technically, but I call him a friend and I am honored to do so.”
Noski’s nickname, “Doc,” came about when Hamilton called him the “doctor of driving.”
Noski, in turn, has nicknamed the PJC bus the “Blue Goose.”
“I named it the Blue Goose because it’s bright, pretty blue and I feel like a pilot,” Noski said. “Over the years the bands would nickname their buses, and some students today call [this bus] the Pirate Bus or Pirate Ship.”
As the only driver of the Blue Goose, Noski makes sure the vehicle gets its weekly checkups at Goodtime Tours in Pensacola.
“They all ask me at Goodtime Tours, ‘How do you keep this bus looking so good?’ And, I tell them it’s because I take care of it,” he said.
The 25-year-old bus is built by Motor Coach Industries to last 30 years. It’s on its second engine with an accumulated 640,000 miles. Noski hopes that PJC invests in a new one soon “when the economy picks back up.”
Through it all, Noski feels he has the best of both worlds with his job. He gets to travel and he gets to watch sports. Past students still keep in touch with him.
“John took care of me and the Lady Pirate basketball team everywhere we traveled with a big smile on his face,” said Vicki Carson, a retired coach and now health and fitness teacher.
“I enjoy getting up in the morning and coming to work,” Noski said. “I would be lost if I didn’t have this job.”
View John Noski’s 2010 PJC Baseball and Softball route in a larger map