Inspired by Humans of New York, #HeartBeatsYYC is a new initiative to share real stories from the heart of our city. Our Downtown looks a little different than we're used to, and while some doors are temporarily closed, the hearts within still beat.
(Author's note: HeartsBeatsYYC is now HowdYYC!)
Our very first HeartBeat is none other than Syd Banks, a nearly 50 year veteran driver for Calgary Transit. You might not recognize his face, but you'd probably recognize his voice. For the last 14 years on the LRT, Syd has been delivering Calgarians safely to their destinations and warming up our commute with his unique flair for announcements. We had a chance to talk to Syd and asked him some important questions.
What is your favourite thing to see out your window?
My favourite thing to see out of the train window are the people that smile and wave when they get off the train after I give my weather report and welcome them Downtown. I get lots of people who do that and they become regular customers.
Another thing I quite enjoy is in the summertime, how well the downtown is kept, how clean it is and how well the parks people take care of it. Seeing the blooming flowers and all the rest of it. I also love that they put the lights on the C-Train stations when they changed to four-car platforms. In the early morning and evenings when the lights come on and change colour, it feels like the warmest city.
I’ve done extensive travelling especially in my recent years and as far as I’m concerned, our city is second-to-none.
We’re in the middle of a pandemic and things are, understandably, kind of scary. What are you most afraid of right now?
The thing that scares me the most is seeing people who don't and aren't wearing masks. If it's going to protect us then that is the thing to do.
When the pandemic first started, I was really scared of catching the virus but as our City Hall officials and our Mayor put things in place to protect peeople, I don't feel as afraid anymore. Calgary Transit itself has put things into effect especially in the downtown area. We have people constantly cleaning buttons, the interiors of the trains, on the platforms, and making it as safe as possible.
When is the happiest you've ever been?
There are so many things to pick out from just one. I’ve had so many happy things happen to me in my life. One of the happiest things is when I decided to go from driving the bus and trucks to driving the train. I just love driving the train, it's one of my happiest places.
I’m also so happy to have grandchildren, and now three great-grandchildren. That’s real happiness. But the happiest thing to happen to me in my whole life is marrying my wife. That would have to be number one on the list. Number two is driving the C-Train.
Who is the most influential person in your life?
The hero in my life is my wife. She’s the one that I appreciate the most…her mentorship, and taking care of me in my older age. She’s the love of my life.
If you could say one thing to everyone in this city, what would you say?
I think Calgary is so unique and it has such a wonderful spirit. I see this all the time working on the trains; especially when people lose things and other people turn it in. Just recently I had $300 in a wallet turned into me and we were able to return it to the owner.
So I guess my one thing that I would say to everyone is: to stay positive and keep the spirit of Calgary going.