The Trivia Man challenges his passengers

Posted on March 23, 2009

At 70, John Doman, a retired executive, has learned to relax and enjoy the ride — behind the wheel of a college shuttle bus. For the past seven years, Doman has been ferrying students between the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, two Catholic liberal arts colleges located about 5 miles apart near St. Cloud, Minn.

Doman spends about 6 hours each day working for the intercampus bus service between the schools, which have a shared academic program. He started the job in 2002, after retiring as president of an international non-profit organization for children. “Retirement wasn’t my thing at all,” he said. “I wanted to have something productive to do.”

Doman applied for a couple of jobs, but was told that he was overqualified. He could have found a position in administration, but wanted to do something different. “I wanted to be around young people,” he said. “I’ve been around young people my entire career.”

So he applied for a bus driver position at the College of Saint Benedict, which he found suited his needs. “I have summer and the holidays off and still have time for other hobbies, like fishing and golf,” he said.

Doman isn’t just a bus driver, however. He’s taken the vocation a step further by challenging his passengers with daily trivia questions, with the winner receiving a lollipop and the recognition of fellow students.

“About six months into my tenure, I thought we should do something to stimulate conversation on the bus and help people to get to know each other,” Doman explained. “I wanted to make it a fun kind of experience.”

So Doman came up with the idea of a trivia contest. His first trivia question involved one of his favorite radio shows, the Lone Ranger. Unfortunately, the question drew a collective blank. “They hadn’t heard of the Lone Ranger,” Doman said, laughing.

Still, it was fun to test the wits of his passengers, and Doman continued to pepper them with questions. His granddaughter helped to provide questions of a more recent vintage, while Doman drew upon his general knowledge of history, geography and world affairs to stimulate the brain cells of his captive audience.

“It’s very rare that I completely stump them,” Doman says. “If they don’t get it, I’ll start giving clues.” Some of the more competitive passenger will call friends or family on their cell phones in search of the correct answer.

Doman’s trivial pursuit has earned him the nickname of Trivia Man, and he has cultivated a loyal following. He said that some trivia-hungry students will skip an earlier shuttle bus just to ride on his. “They all know what I’m going to do, and some will wait just for me.”

Doman shares more than trivia with the students. Upon request, he’ll also give advice about homework or answer questions about his background in administration. “I’ve also shared a number of books on administration management from my personal library and talked with students about assignments,” he said. “I feel good about that.”

Doman also does occasional charter runs and has been asked to take on more ceremonial assignments – doing wedding charters complete with matrimony-related trivia questions.

“This is just a lotta fun,” Doman said. “I have fun with the trivia questions and the students do, too.These people are an extraordinary bunch. That’s what makes it so enjoyable.”

Not surprisingly, Doman has no plans to retire from his current position. “I’ve always had a philosophy that I should always feel like I’m contributing something and that I’m having fun on the job,” he said. “As long as those factors are there, I will still be working.”

To view a video of Doman challenging his passengers with trivia questions, click here




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