Every weekday, between the hours of 5 p.m. and 2 a.m., he drives around campus. His job is to transport students to various locations, as he contributes to Lasell’s free shuttle service. He may not know every student on campus and every student may not know him, but Robert Davis will greet every passenger like a longtime friend. It’s because of this friendliness that Rob has become an icon among the student body.
“Hey man! How’s it going?” Rob said to a new passenger. He delivers a fist bump to the boarding student, having no knowledge of his name or background. It’s nothing out of the ordinary for Rob to welcome his riders with amiability. As the passengers get seated, Rob changes the radio station to dance music to get everyone on board in a positive mood.
At the next stop, a female student asks about a gray hat that went missing on the shuttle. Rob reaches over to the glove compartment and pulls out the gray hat. “You just made my day, Rob,” said the student. “I’m glad I could make someone’s day,” he said.
As the shuttle travels from Woodland Hall to Forest Suites, Rob is singing along with Maroon 5 on the radio. Once he arrives at Forest, he assists a passenger with her suitcase because she was “feeling under the weather.” The shuttle eventually makes its course to Riverside Station, where he notifies the passengers of the MBTA’s bus service that replaced the subway for the day.
It’s these small, friendly gestures that make Rob an individual who stands out on campus.
“I remember friends talking about him, and I thought to myself, ‘I have to meet this guy,’” says Freshman Skylar Beckerman. “When I met him, I was like, ‘Rob! I’m Skylar, what’s up, man?’ Now every time I see him, he’ll be like, ‘Skylar! What’s up?’”
“When I’m getting ready for work, I’m looking forward to it,” says Rob. “I spend more time with these students than I do with my friends at home. This is my life right now.”
The 54-year-old Hanover native has been a shuttle driver for the past two years. Before driving at Lasell, Rob was a facilities manager for several different biotech companies. For over 12 years, Rob oversaw daily operations, regular building maintenance, budgeting, and other daily operations of running a facility. Because of the recession, Rob was laid off and out of a job for a year and a half. He found his job on campus through a friend, who was a human resources director. “She said to me, ‘this seems like an interesting job. You’re a people person. I can see you working at a college interacting with students.’”
Although he makes less money now than before, Rob takes pride in his position as a shuttle driver. “The job for me is very rewarding,” he said.
Through various conversations ranging from sports to politics, Rob is able to make connections with the students. From casual conversation to cheering them up, he’s there for them.
Freshmen Kelsy Evje and Melissa Cooley have taken the shuttle several times, once after having their phones stolen in a Boston restaurant. “We told him we were all upset because our stuff got stolen,” says Cooley. “He cheered us up though.”
In some cases, students come to Rob for personal advice. “Sometimes I feel like a counselor,” Rob said. “They’ll come in and say, ‘Rob, my boyfriend just broke up with me and I’m really sad. Can I ride around and talk?’”
He listens to what students have to say, but understands there’s a limit to which he can give advice. Nevertheless, Rob lends an ear to help passengers feel better.
Growing up as the son of a Boston police detective and a housewife, Rob lived in several different cities, including Boston, Quincy, Braintree, and Hanover.
“It was hard for me [growing up],” he said. “I came from a broken home, but I was my own person and had to be strong and keep going.”
Because of the struggles he faced at home, Rob feels he can understand and relate to some of the students. “I have a passionate understanding of it because I went through it,” he said.
In his second year as a shuttle driver, Rob looks to continue his service to the student body. “Having a job like this, I can see myself…working until I [physically] can’t any longer,” says Rob.
Having no children and never been married, Rob is content with where he is in life. Rob is fortunate for the shared respect he shares with the student body. After retirement, he looks forward to traveling to warm locations such as California, Florida, or even Mexico. Until then, Rob continues to drive around Lasell, putting smiles on the faces of nearly every student along the way.