By most measures, getting older is a real bummer. You start losing friends you’ve known your entire life, you can’t walk or hear as well as you used to be able, and your kids are stuck visiting you in the nursing home once a week and playing Scrabble while you all drink tea together. On the non-depressing side of things though, you basically have a minimal amount of day-to-day responsibilities, have plenty of time to watch daytime game shows, and get chauffeured around to your errands by a lovely shuttle bus driver.
If you are extra lucky, that shuttle bus driver also happens to be a classically-trained and very talented opera singer who embraces the part of his job that allows him to entertain his cargo with a varied catalogue of songs. That is exactly the position that elderly residences of the Seabrook Retirement Community of New Jersey find themselves in with Mike Rabinowitz, apparently the coolest bus driver of all time. As told in a recent USA Today story, Mike trained as a singer but never quite hit the big time despite years of mid-tier success in and around New York City.
Who hasn’t known the frustration of constantly feeling like you are about to break through only to find yourself still waiting tables years later? Years of auditions and on-and-off stretches of success netted him only part of what he was looking for. The star-making turn at Lincoln Center did not come to fruition and he stayed balancing part-time work with singing as long as he could. As Mike tells it, after he was hit by a car when walking his dog a few years ago, he decided to switch up careers a bit and went from serving up plates of food to driving around Southern Jersey and continuing to chase his dream and take singing lessons all the way in New York City.
After receiving a job offer from Ryan Houllier, the transportation manager at the nursing home, his only worry would be that he could not sing on the bus. Not so, said Houllier, and the rest was history. So not only is he a super cool bus driver, he is also a dedicated singer as well, seeing as he still goes to lessons and auditions when he can. Plus, he has great taste in music based on his non-opera choices. Apparently he favors old hits from the traditional greats like Sinatra, but he also mixes in others as well to keep people happy.
“We love to get on the bus with him — it’s entertainment,” longtime Seabrook resident Audrey Grogan said. “On the longer trips it’s even better. It’s opera, we get modern stuff too, and he takes requests from some of the girls.”
When a simple drive from a nursing home to a local department store can turn into an incredible semi-private performance, it must make people’s day so much brighter. Maybe if he needs to add some more contemporary hits to his stable he will go full “Carpool Karaoke” and mix in a little Justin Bieber or One Direction.
(Via USA Today)