This is the first article in a series on Copperas Cove occupations.
I made my way to Copperas Cove early Tuesday afternoon. It was a beautiful sunny day. Cars and trucks filled the streets, and with lunch fast approaching, gridlock was on its way.
Luckily for me, I could enjoy the sights and scenes of Copperas Cove from a different perspective: a HOP bus.
Boarding the green machine
At 12:40 p.m. I caught the HOP from the Copperas Cove Walmart pickup point. Here I met my chauffeur for the afternoon, a kind, soft-spoken woman decked out in the typical HOP uniform and a dark pair of Wayfarers. Her name was Sheri Goode-Brown, 33, a native North Carolinian who has lived in Killeen since 2006.
“I moved down here to help my sister out when she was pregnant,” Goode-Brown said. “She was in the Army and I decided, why not? I needed a change anyway.”
Goode-Brown is the driver for the Copperas Cove loop route. Her shift started at 10 a.m. Tuesday when she arrived to pick up her bus for the day.
“I don’t hang around the break room too much,” she said. “I grab my keys, start my route, and go from there.”
Although I grew up in Harker Heights and still make my home there, this was my first HOP ride.
I must say, I was pretty impressed that my hometown and the surrounding areas have such a great service available to it.
The bus I boarded was clean, the seat was comfortable, and the air conditioner was blowing full blast, a small detail that was greatly appreciated on a hot Central Texas day.
Making the rounds
We made our way along the route, stop by stop, Goode-Brown occasionally waved at passers-by along the street.
“I really enjoy this,” she said. “It’s fun, fairly easy, I like to drive, and you meet a lot of interesting people each day.”
A former bus driver for Killeen and Temple school districts, Goode-Brown admitted she was much happier driving for the HOP than hauling schoolchildren.
“This is much quieter than driving kids,” she said.
“While I enjoyed those jobs OK, this one has a lot less hassle. I never have to yell here.”
Goode-Brown has worked for the HOP for seven months. Before taking on the Copperas Cove loop route four months ago, she drove “extra board,” a position designed to fill in for drivers who are sick or on vacation.
“I enjoy this route much more,” Goode-Brown said, “I know every day what my route will be and what to expect. It’s a lot simpler than extra board.”
Enjoying the ride
Just as I kicked back and started enjoying the ride, we pulled up to my stop at Walmart, the end of the line for me.
I thanked Goode-Brown for her time, and I watched her pick up a few more passengers. I’m not sure when I’ll ride the HOP again, but it will be a comfortable journey.