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The article below is one in a series called Bristol at Work that profiles employees of the City of Bristol Tennessee. Please follow us on Facebook to see other profiles in this series.
In any given week, Bradey Tankersley travels hundreds of miles, making dozens of trips to grocery stores, big box retailers, and doctors’ offices that provide everything from routine care to specialized treatments. Her primary duties as the driver of Bristol Tennessee’s Paratransit Bus are to help passengers board and deliver them safely to their destination, but sometimes – quite often, actually – they strike up meaningful conversations along the way.
“I spend 70 percent of my time with these people, so I get to know them pretty well,” she said. “I’m kind of a people person, and I’ve been told I’m easy to talk to. It’s really nice to have their trust.”
From her seat behind the wheel, Bradey listens as her passengers fill time with stories about the jobs they’ve held, their adventures through life, their families and more. They sometimes complain about people or situations, she laughed, confiding in her as they make their way through the city. It’s all in a day’s work and one of the reasons Bradey loves her job so much.
“I’ve gotten to experience some wonderful people,” she said. “As I get to know them, they get to know me. Many of the people I work with are limited to what they have and to what they can do, so the bus is really a godsend for them.”
Brady grew up in Bristol and graduated from Tennessee High School. After driving a school bus for a time, she joined the City as a driver for one of the full-sized transit buses that operates on a fixed route throughout the city. Three years later, she became responsible for driving the Paratransit Bus, a handicapped-accessible van for passengers with disabilities. She now has between 200 and 300 regular passengers, she said, who schedule rides for a variety of reasons. Some may just need a gallon of milk, but others depend on her to get to lifesaving medical appointments.
When her final passenger has been dropped off, Bradey heads to her second job. Equipped with a vacuum, a mop, and a variety of other cleaning equipment, she spends the evening cleaning medical facilities, financial institutions, and other offices throughout the area.
“I guess I’m a little bit of a workaholic,” she admits.
Still, she finds time for fun.
She loves music of all kinds – from rock to country to heavy metal – and loves attending festivals that feature some of her favorite bands. She’s planning a trip to Nashville’s famed Ryman Auditorium with family members, and has a number of favorite performers on her bucket list. She also loves the outdoors, especially camping and kayaking and enjoying the scenic beauty of the region. She’s often accompanied by Opie, her 9-year-old dog, who is “the most precious thing in the world.”
And if she rolls up her sleeves, you might also notice that Bradey loves tattoos. There’s a large rose on one arm, a tribute to her beloved grandmother. She loves the beauty of the artwork and the opportunity to tell her story in colorful images.
Her friends even talked her into trying roller derby, where she dubbed herself “Brady Punch.”
“I’ve still got all my equipment,” she said. “I just haven’t been able to find the time.”
Shout out to Bradey Tankersley – a trusted driver to community members who need help reaching their destination, a lover of music and the great outdoors, a former roller derby queen, and best friend to a beloved pet. She’s another great example of Bristol at Work.