Deshaun Washington couldn’t help but notice how often his neighbor seemed to be out helping people, lending a hand or offering guidance. And if he wasn’t helping someone, James Leonard likely was working.
“He’s a good man,” Washington said of Leonard, the Transportation Director at the Franklin County Board of Developmental Disabilities. “A good, hardworking man.”
Leonard also is straightforward, punctual “and doesn’t play,” Washington said with a smile. “So when he said there was a place for me, I had to be ready.”
Washington joined FCBDD as a bus mechanic last year. He’s part of the small, close-knit crew that keeps the agency’s fleet in top condition and ready to safely transport children and adults with developmental disabilities.
How do you like the job so far?
I like it a lot. I’ve always loved fixing stuff, ever since I was a kid. First it was Legos, then gas motors, now diesel engines and propane buses.
Before you came to FCBDD, you were a mechanic at a relative’s business. Did you have any experience with the disability community?
Not really. Now I’ve gotten to know the guys (from ARC Industries) who help clean the buses, and they’re my buddies. I understand that people might not have the same abilities, but we all have feelings. We’re all different, and we all need each other.
Your boss jokes that because you live nearby, he’ll know whether you’re late or not.
I am not a morning person! That’s why I start at 10 a.m.
Do your kids think it’s pretty cool that you fix school buses?
They’ve never been on one. My daughter is still young, and I drop my son off at school. But my daughter loves school buses.
You not only fix buses, but you can drive them, too.
I was the first mechanic here who also had to have a bus license. I had to take the driver’s class and test. The (state) rules changed just when I got here.
Anything so far you haven’t been able to figure out?
I don’t want to admit to being stumped. Because I always win in the end.