Despite The Pandemic: Every Mountain Can Be Conquered

Being a service writer for Atlanta Public Schools Transportation Department requires patience, technique and attention to detail.

Zachery Robinson is by far the perfect person for the job. Robinson is essentially the expert his colleagues call when there is an issue with a school bus. He describes his position as a hybrid role, servicing buses as well as operating them when his team needs a hand.

Passionate about his role, Robinson is revered for his commitment to excellence. He has a technical background and began his career at AT&T, working for the company for 13 years before being laid off.

Shortly thereafter, Robinson began his journey in APS as a temporary employee in the Transportation Department Call Center. He applied for the service writer position twice, striking luck after the second attempt in March 2017.

The pandemic was a shock to the world and just like many employees at APS, Robinson learned how to pivot.

“We were out for a month and a half until they asked us to report back to work. I worked from 6:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The morning shift was new for me since I normally worked the later shift,” says Robinson. “My job consisted of housekeeping, working on buses that needed maintenance, and helping with the Monday food distribution. Every week, our entire team loaded buses to help prepare for food delivery. I love being a part of the effort to help feed our students,” he exclaims.

Robinson’s team is important to him. He credits the family bond among his colleagues for getting him through one of the roughest seasons of his life.

“It seemed like a normal day at work. I received a phone call saying that my stepson, who is more like a son to me, had been shot. I was shocked! I rushed to the Lakewood Bus Barn to drop off a bus and then left for the hospital,” Robinson recalled.

“I was told that my son was responsive and thought to myself I would have a chance to talk to him. When I arrived at the house to get my wife, my eldest daughter who was already at the hospital placed the doctor on speaker phone. At this point, we are not as panicked because we felt he was alright, but then the doctor explained that the medical team did everything they could to save him, but unfortunately my son did not make it.”

Robinson paused after sharing such a difficult personal moment.

He continues by stating, “My son was killed after a guy attempted to rob him. He was shot at a very close range, but my son had enough strength to run to an officer who was working a funeral precession. Some of my son’s last moments were caught on that officer’s body camera.”

Robinson normally knows how to express himself. He is adept at comforting others, but this tragedy rendered him speechless. He and his wife, who is also an APS employee, are both still dealing with the sudden loss of their son.

Zachery Robinson is pictured with his wife and colleague.

When asked how he has been able to move forward, Robinson isn’t shy to share how he has begun to heal.

“God has gotten me through. He speaks to me when I don’t know what to do,” he said. “I write and help others. Serving other people helps me. I have a great support group and set up boundaries with people who don’t add value to my life,” says Robinson.

His support system at work consists of his team members. Robinson hasn’t been alone, and is thankful to have a team of brothers who have encouraged him.

Zachery Robinson pictured with his brotherhood of colleagues.

“They’ve been my support system since I’ve been here. They talk to me and acknowledge my hurt. They helped me and my family as we struggled going through the funeral process and constantly tell jokes to make me laugh. It has helped ease my mind,” he said.

Even in the midst of a parent’s worst nightmare, Robinson continued his weight loss journey, which began in mid-June 2020. He has lost 67 pounds since the pandemic. In June, Robinson weighed 301 pounds, and by mid-September, he weighed 234 pounds.

“I wanted to get my weight down and live a healthier lifestyle,” he shared.

Zachery Robinson has displayed great courage, perseverance, and strength during an uncertain time in history. Employees like Robinson and his brotherhood of co-workers are living proof that despite the pandemic, we can continue to not only survive, but thrive.

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