March Mustache Madness
A humorous look at city of Steamboat Springs bus drivers' mustache-growing competition.
Despite all the bad news emerging from City Hall lately because of painful budget cuts forced by a troubled economy, there is one sector of city government where spirits refuse to be dampened.
If you have noticed an uptick in the number of mustachioed men driving city buses, it's not just your imagination. It's March mustache madness.
"You don't see a lot of mustaches out there. Now, it's time to bring the 'stache back," said city bus driver Noah Rector who initiated the facial hair gag that coincides with the NCAA basketball tournament. "It makes you feel like you're living back in the '70s or '80s. : It makes you feel raw, man."
Rector is one of about 10 Steamboat Springs Transit employees - including drivers, supervisors and others - sporting a mustache this week. From bushy and broad, to thin and blond, the mustaches have provided plenty of laughs for co-workers and SST passengers.
"It's gotten very entertaining," SST staff assistant Kim Symalla said.
Bus driver Zek McDowell described his mustache as a "true symbol of boredom."
"I think it's really a matter of, we do get paid to drive around in circles all day," he said. "We've got to find some way to entertain ourselves."
Additionally, bus driver Aaron "Captain" Namura said March mustache madness has boosted morale and camaraderie.
"This has been a great group of drivers all year long, so I'm glad they're having some fun," Transit Operations Manager Jonathan Flint said. "If it breaks up things, I enjoy seeing them not only work together but have fun. : We like living in a town where mustache growing is newsworthy."
Noah's brother and fellow bus driver Jacob Rector said that he has received no good comments about his mustache thus far, and he's pretty sure it's destroyed his chances with women. He remains undeterred.
"It feels good. That's the great thing about it," Jacob Rector said. "It makes me feel like a man. It kind of creeps out girls, but I feel like I could wrestle a bear with this. : I'm all business about it, too. I don't like to smile with my 'stache too much. : I'm a small man, but this mustache makes me look big."
This is Jacob Rector's first mustache. He'd like to see it bigger, so he said he probably will keep growing it into April. Other participants, however, already have dropped out. Bus driver Bill Blackwell made it a few days before shaving his mustache off. He said it intimidated passengers and sufficiently freaked him out every time he looked in the mirror and saw his father looking back.
"Bill, I guess he went home after he rocked it for one night and said he could not do it," Noah Rector said. "He said it was filthy."
SST is coming off a disappointing February when it failed to set a 10th straight monthly ridership record. If SST rebounds in March, McDowell said he will keep his mustache in hopes of keeping the streak alive. If St. Patrick's Day is any indication, he'll have to make good on the pledge; Flint said SST carried about 300 more passengers Tuesday than it did on St. Patrick's Day last year.
"It's already paying off," Jacob Rector said.
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