The John Smith response

God Bless & Happy Thanksgiving;
I writing this as hopefully an, end of the line-you can get off now statement regarding , SMART denies bus driver time off to deliver eulogy for co-worker’s funeral A family wishing to pay a final tribute to their departed loved one hits a roadblock. After SMART bus driver John Smith passed away, they hoped to have a fellow…

There are several thoughts that have emerged since the death of my friend JOHN THOMAS SMITH. But while driving to the Great Lakes National Park where John was laid to rest, I was meditating on all that transpired since his death and the LORD revealed one point, the biggest point, about John’s death. This is what HE said to me, “MAYBE NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF YOU, HOWARD LESLIE HAD BEEN MORE CONCERNED ABOUT YOU FRIEND IN THIS LIFE, THEN MAYBE JOHN WOULD NOT HAVE ENTERED INTO THE NEXT LIFE AT THIS TIME.” The Word says that we are the Body of Christ, the Church and one of our responsibilities is to lay hands on the sick and they shall recover. The LORD also gives HIS Church gifts of discernment to see behind the scenes when revealed by GOD to assist people in their needs. I know as for myself I never spent any prolonged time in prayer for John or with John, even when I saw him some weight losses and gains during the years I knew him. John did visit my church a couple of times years ago.

I am definitely not on a guilt trip here. God did not say this to me to go into some deep regret and lose faith. But HE did it to remind me to be MORE concerned about my fellow man.

When John died, I was asked to do the eulogy by his widow. I knew at that time that SMART had a shortage of drivers. I also knew that many coach operators were broke up about John’s death, as I was. Knowing this I intentionally did not put on my request form for the day off that I was doing the eulogy nor did I say this to any of my supervisors until AFTER I received my denial letter. I did that not to cause a firestorm, but to show that I was just another driver who wanted the day off to remember his friend.

Please look at the news reports and listen to what was said be me during both interviews.…

The day of the first news report, I was working doing the 450 route to Pontiac, John’s hometown. I got a text and when I read it at the end of the line, it said that Fox 2 news was at the church and wanted to talk to me and I responded Ok. I have NO idea who called the news about me being denied the day off to do John’s eulogy, but my plan was if I was denied a personal day off, I would just call off that day. Again, I intentionally left off that I was eulogizing John because I did not want special attention-because many people were grieving and wanted to be at the funeral instead of driving a bus that day. I also knew that if I chose to do it that way, SMART could demand I bring in a doctor’s excuse the next day-which for me would have been lying, so I was risking being reprimanded by SMART-and possibly still could be reprimanded for violating SMART policies.

My main point in doing it this was hopefully our union leadership and our local superintendant would see and hear how John’s coworkers and supervisors were so devastated by his death that they would call other terminals and request drivers to relieve drivers who wanted to attend John’s funeral.

As far as I know that never happened even though when there is a driver shortage at our terminal, drivers are routinely called in to fill in when there is a driver shortage at our terminal. I am NOT a union steward or a supervisor so I have no official so say so NOR can I or did I try to “negotiate” with SMART mine or anyone else’s time off for that day. I just thought it was very plain that drivers were hurting, wanted to attend the funeral and a way should have been made for them to grieve at the funeral that day.

The day after the funeral I returned to work, completed my assignment, no one from SMART approached me about anything regarding taking that day off. I will look at my pay check stub next week to see if I was paid for the day I called off and again when I called off I was not told to bring in any documentation when I returned to work. If I don’t get paid then, Hakuna Matata.

So, to recap, this was not an organized, “let’s show how evil SMART is” by not granting me the day off when I requested it in writing. It was not a “call the media on them” on my part. I do not know who called the media. This should be a wakeup call for those like me who are “saved, sanctified and filled with the mighty burning fire of the Holy Ghost” to look more intently at those around us who need what we have because GOD has given us something for the world.

The steps of a righteous are ordered of the LORD and HE delighted in them Psalms 37:23
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Pastor Howard Leslie
SMART line haul operator
Oakland terminal

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