December 5, 2013

Long time fixtures at Augusta airport packing up and heading south

Lynda and Mike MacFarland, who have been selling Greyhound bus tickets for 35 years, are saying goodbye to Augusta and hello to retirement.

By Keith Edwards kedwards@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

DEPARTURE: A Greyhound bus drops off and picks up customers Wednesday at the station at the Augusta State Airport. Mike and Lynda McFarland, who have served as Greyhound’s bus agents for 35 years, are retiring on Dec. 20.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

click image to enlarge

retiring: Mike and Lynda McFarland, shown here with their dog, Moka, who joins them at work daily, plan to retire Dec. 20 as Greyhound bus agents. The couple have sold tickets for 35 years in Augusta, currently at the Augusta State Airport.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

John Guimond, manager of the Augusta State Airport, said he has not heard anything from Greyhound yet about whether it will remain at the airport. He said Hertz officials have expressed interest in maintaining a presence at the airport.

“The MacFarlands really took care of passengers for Greyhound and Hertz,” Guimond said. “They won’t find anybody as good as Mike and Lynda. They’re good people, very customer-oriented. Their presence at the airport, and in the community, is going to be missed.”

Many of their workdays at the airport have been pretty slow, especially in the afternoon, after the last of the daily buses — two headed north, two headed south — make their stops in Augusta.

Many bus passengers buy their tickets online. As agents working on commission, the MacFarlands are paid by Greyhound only when they physically sell tickets.

Lynda said some passengers ask them numerous questions about the bus service, then finish with a final question — “Are tickets available online?”

“Sometimes they’ll sit right here (outside their sliding window) and get tickets online on their smart phones,” Lynda said.

Mike said that’s why he started also renting cars for Hertz, because bus ticket sales alone weren’t enough for the couple, who have eight now-adult children, to make a living.

The MacFarlands are the first and last people some people see in Augusta.

Saucier said the couple makes a great impression.

Passengers, especially those who’ve had too much to drink, occasionaly can be a handful, though the couple noted that was more of an issue downtown, back when there was more going on in that part of the city.

Their small dog, Moka, joins them on the job, continuing a tradition started with their former dog, Mieshe, which they had 14 years before it died about a year ago. Lynda said Moka often gets “borrowed” by other airport workers and accompanies them for parts of a day.

They said they’ve been able to tolerate working seven days a week, nearly every week, because they like the people — most of them, anyway. Especially their only direct co-workers — each other.

“We enjoy working with each other,” Mike said. “If we didn’t work together, I don’t think we’d do it.”

Keith Edwards – 621-5647 kedwards@centralmaine.com
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