“When I was young I was trouble,” admits Albert. “I was a gang banger and drug addict and thought I knew better than everyone else. Finally I found myself brought up before a judge facing three years of jail time. He gave me a choice: either join the military or go to jail. So I joined the Marine Corps, thinking that I could be wild and see the world. Then Vietnam happened, and that changed me.”
“I had to grow up fast. I saw things most people don’t get to see, and I learned to take responsibility for my own mistakes. It made me become a man. I served 2 years active duty and 4 years in the reserves.”
After his honorable discharge from the Marines, Albert found it a struggle to find long term employment.
“Without a high school diploma, all I could find were menial or short term contract jobs,” Albert explains. “I worked hard and had several commendations and letters of recommendation from different places I’d worked, but still I couldn’t get ahead. People constantly told me that I was qualified for certain positions, but that they couldn’t hire me without a high school degree.”
Finally, years later, Albert is working to obtain his GED. His wife Anne is his biggest supporter and helps him with his studies. He’s also a proud member of the San Bernardino Adult School student council.
Because his wife is retired and uses the family car for errands around town, Albert relies on sbX to get back and forth to his classes. Catching the sbX Green Line at the Hospitality station, he makes the quick trip to Baseline and E near the school.
“I really enjoy riding sbX and have nothing but high praise for it,” says Albert. “It’s convenient, comfortable and has free WiFi. It also attracts a different kind of passenger from the regular buses. You get a lot of students and professionals. The drivers are very pleasant too and always say good morning.”
But what really excites Albert is the Omnitrans veterans fare which launched in January.
“As a veteran, the vet discount make a big difference for me. I used to have to pay $3.00 a day. Now it only costs me $1.50. When you’re on a budget, every little bit helps.”
When he’s not busy with school, Albert enjoys baking. His dream job would be to own a little neighborhood bakery/deli where people could relax, hang out, and enjoy good food. For now he’s content with honing his skills through Wilson cake-decorating classes at Michaels in Redlands.
“I like learning new things and being creative,” he says with a smile. “It keeps me young”
Since the launch of the veterans fare on January 5th, Omnitrans is proud to have served more than 25,000 veterans fare passengers.
Juno Kughler Carlson