Hazel Wing compares her job to that of an air traffic controller.
As a station starter for RTD, Wing watches four monitors at her desk, tracking buses as they arrive or depart Union Station and Civic Center. She makes sure buses pull into the correct gate on time. She makes sure they leave on schedule but not too early, either. She nudges and cajoles 300 buses via text to the bus radio. If there’s a breakdown, she finds the replacement vehicle and keeps the customers moving.
“Sometimes it’s nice and calm, and other times it’s way hectic,” Wing said. “But I think I thrive on that because it gives me energy. And I like to see my customers happy when they are able to get on the bus and make their way home or wherever they’re going.”
Wing thrives on energy. That fact goes back to her high school days in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Growing up, she watched her father sing and play guitar in a band called The Four Falcons. Her cousin played music, too. Hazel dreamed of being a rock star. She liked Chrissie Hynde (from The Pretenders). She liked Pat Benatar, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, too.
So Wing concocted a plan. She would join the military. She’d find a way to get stationed in London and mingle with rock stars. And she would work her way into the scene.
The military turned out to be a great idea. She learned a new mindset about taking responsibility for her work. But the military was not her free ticket to London. Or rock stardom.
But it did give her the right mindset for success, years later, at RTD.
In the military, Wing said, “I grew up. I learned how to be self-sufficient.”
Wing says she learned to deliver what was asked by her superiors. “There was no crying. You had to man up, so that's what I did.”
Wing was a calibration specialist. She checked and adjusted readout counters, multimeters and oscilloscopes. Her service included a couple of years in Germany, where she learned the language. As with her station starter job today, Wing was behind the scenes but felt fully connected to the overall mission. She never lost sight of the fact that precision instruments were critical to soldiers on the front lines.