From World Traveling Executive to Bus Driver

 In Blog

Imagine living less than eight miles from a beautiful park in the next town over and never having the time – in 30 years – to visit it.

That was Rick Bangham’s story. Look Memorial Park in Florence was so close to his Easthampton home, but his whirlwind life as an international executive kept him in the air more than 80,000 miles a year. Before he retired Dec. 31, 2011, he had no time to enjoy the horses on his Easthampton farm, go on hikes on Mount Tom or spend enough quality time with his wife, Deborah.

Rick worked as vice president of Global Solutions for France-based Markem-Imaje, an $800 million product identification company. The 3,000-employee business operated in virtually every country in the world. He was responsible for managing a team that provided product identification solutions for 40 big-name companies. Pretty heavy stuff.

I interviewed Rick for a piece I wrote for the Daily Hampshire Gazette earlier this year about life after retirement. I learned about his hectic work life and how he planned to live it once he retired. I admired his dedication to his job as he achieved much success and sacrificed the little pleasures in life that we all get to enjoy. He had the smarts to retire at age 60 when his company planned to move headquarters to France and underwent a restructuring.

As he got older, Rick lost his enthusiasm for all the long hours of work and the non-stop traveling.

“I basically wanted to build a local life, a sustainable life that had lower stress and focused more on my health and fitness and my surroundings,” he said. “Then I started with a short list of things that have quickly evolved into what I considered a nice, balanced mix of enjoying myself around here and still having responsibilities.”

Not wanting to be content with 100 percent free time, Rick looked into part-time job possibilities. But not just any job. It had to be something that challenged him, was far removed from his comfort zone and was something not everyone could do.

“Everybody laughs but one of my serious criteria was it had to be something where every time I showed up I was convinced that people were genuinely happy to see me,” he said.

Rick found a job that met his needs: a part-time gig as a bus driver for Strong Bus Co., just down the road from his house. He had to undergo training, get a specialized license and be flexible on when they needed him. A few months after retiring, Rick was driving seniors to casinos and the Boston Symphony, and young children to school and on class trips to places such as the Boston Museum of Science and Plimoth Plantation.

In 2013 he logged 700 hours on the road driving coach and school buses. So far this year he has been on the road 400 hours and is still enjoying it.

But don’t worry, Rick still finds time to enjoy all the things he missed when he was an executive, like gardening, bicycling, hiking, exercising, spending more time with his parents who live next door and learning how to enjoy time alone now and then.

It must be great to pay your dues and then get to really enjoy life when you’re in your early 60s.

Nicely done, Rick.

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