The night before the mid-term elections I put out a post on Social Media asking where to find an American Flag pin. Through that post I met a Lubbock man who’s story was unexpected.
Every school day Steve Barker picks up and drops off kids in the same East Lubbock neighborhoods he grew up in. He’s retired now and tells me what he does, “I drive a bus for LISD well Durham Transportation for LISD.” And loves what he does. Saying, “I’m doing that because I saw all of these signs for bus drivers, my granddaughter rides a bus, so I thought you know why don’t I go do something and make a difference.”
What you would never know is that isn’t the most exciting job he’s ever had in his career. Before Barker retired he was Secret Service Agent Barker, protecting President’s as they traveled all over the world. “So I was with Carter on those kinds of trips, Ford on several trips, met Nixon. I think to look at it now, I didn’t work with Obama or Trump because I was out by that time but then I’ve worked with every living President before and even some that have now passed.”
After 22 years as a Secret Service Agent Barker speaks about his time with President Reagan, “you get close to some of them, I got close to Reagan especially after he was President. With Reagan I learned to horseback ride, and go riding with Reagan and having some private conversations with him about the old movie days and things so that was kind of neat.” But he’s not willing to give up any juicy details he learned about any of the Presidents he worked with telling us, “a good agent never talks about what happens because it’s kind of like someone following you around 24 hours a day, seven days a week they are going to know a lot about you, some things you might not want them to know, so I cherish those things and I don’t talk about those things that happened.”
From the Philippines with President Carter to seeing the Coliseum in Rome with President George H. W. Bush, Barker has gotten to see the world. “You get to do a lot of things, be a lot of places, for me growing up in Lubbock to be able to go to New York City and stay in the Waldorf Hotel in a suite one time because they didn’t have any regular rooms for me, I was there for two weeks during the UN.”
And you might be surprised at his best memories as a Secret Service Agent. “I was with George H Bush when he went overseas and he got really sick in Japan, I was with him on that trip. That was the first time I got to ride in Air Force One and that was amazing. You can ride first class all you want but when you get on Air Force One there’s just nothing like it.”
With every job there is a downside. “It’s very tough on a family being in the Secret Service. On Sunday, I could get a call saying we have booked you a flight for Monday morning to New York and you have to be on it. You miss a lot of birthdays, Christmases, holidays.”
It’s Barker’s passion to serve that encouraged him to continue to protect in his retirement. “I thought driving kids to school and making sure they get safely to school and get safely home each day and that’s my priority, and it’s Durham’s priority too.”
So from Protecting Presidents to Protecting Kids. It was a pleasure meeting Steve, his wife Cindy, and one of their grandchildren. I just want to point out that you never know another person’s story, and there is magic in every person you meet. Communication is still critical in the age of technology and I’m so glad Steve was willing to share his story with us.