Whether it’s been a late night at the library or a night out on East Fifth Street, there’s one thing that most Lehigh students know is a savior from a cold trek home: the Take a Ride Around Campus Safely service. One T.R.A.C.S. driver in particular has gained a reputation over the past few years – Jerry “The Smarties T.R.A.C.S. Driver” Guerriere. Known for giving out the iconic Smarties and letting students rock out to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” Jerry has been livening up T.R.A.C.S. for student passengers for the past few years.
On a frosty Wednesday, a Brown and White reporter met with Jerry to get a little taste of his experiences and hear what it’s like from the popular T.R.A.C.S. driver’s perspective.
Q: Over the years you’ve become popularly known as Jerry “The Smarties-Giving T.R.A.C.S. Driver.” How did the Smarties tradition start?
A: A young lady once asked if anybody had a mint, and when nobody did, I said, ‘I got some Smarties that I brought from home.’ She said, ‘Oh I love Smarties!’ And that’s how it started. I went to Wegman’s the next day and started giving out Smarties.
Q: What originally made you interested in being a T.R.A.C.S driver?
A: I had a job working as an armored truck driver. They only hired part time. It was a lot of coin and could get pretty heavy…it was starting to get to me. This job came up and it worked with the armored truck job and I liked it. Someone ended up leaving T.R.A.C.S. and I got an extra day, another did the same and I got a fourth day. I enjoy doing this. I enjoy talking to students.
Q: How long have you being doing it?
A: This is my third school year so far.
Q: What’s a normal night look like for you running T.R.A.C.S. route?
A: I drive Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Weekdays are library days. Most students are coming home late from the libraries. Friday and Saturdays I’ll be bringing home students from their social events.
Q: What are some of the things you like or dislike about driving the route?
A: The worst thing is on weekends when on East Fifth when kids jump out in front of the van. With all of the snow this big van can be dangerous. I just want to make sure everyone gets home safe, buy more Smarties, and do it again tomorrow.
Q: I’m sure there are times when you pick up students who are intoxicated and a bit boisterous. How are some of those experiences and how do you feel about them?
A: Normally, it’s fine. Well, if they’re too far gone, I won’t let them in. We have a new school policy this year, that I’m not sure if anybody knows about or not, but I see students who are…well beyond their capacity, I’m supposed to call the police.
Q: Is there anything particularly memorable or funny that happened to you throughout the time you’ve been running T.R.A.C.S?
A: Well, I had a fight in here once. It was pretty much one-sided. One guy suddenly started to go at another guy in the third row. So I called the police, and the one guy got out and another six guys left to follow him. The police came, and that was really the end of it.
Q: Is it difficult dealing with the drive, waits, and cold nights?
A: It’s automatic for me by now. I do eight laps on weekdays and 10 laps on weekends. It’s not bad at all.
Q: In what way can students be “good” T.R.A.C.S. passengers?
A: I mean just really stay in your seat. No need to be crawling over seats while I’m driving. Just be respectful and let me know where you’re going. I’ll stop wherever the student is going.
Q: If there was anything that you would want to share with Lehigh students what would it be?
A: Well if you see me coming and want to get on, just wave or signal me. Don’t step out in front of me, but just let me know so I don’t pass you by. Don’t be afraid to say ‘Hey’ either, it’s always good to meet someone new.
Next time you find yourself riding in the T.R.A.C.S. van, don’t be afraid to say hi to Jerry or the other drivers—you might just end up having a good conversation and some Smarties.