Ja-Ron Freeman has a “wild” past, which he has moved on from. So when he is on the job, operating an MBTA vehicle, he takes it “one stop at a time,” and always stays positive.
“At the end of the day it’s all about safety,” said the 35-year-old Orange Line driver. “I don’t want anyone getting hurt riding my train. I don’t want to be the guy that ends up on the Boston Herald.”
Freeman’s positivity comes in the form of catch phrases and quips that he announces over the loud speakers of the Orange Line vehicle he drives in the mornings during rush hour.
Riders may be familiar with Freeman’s voice, which can be heard clearly through the intercom as he tries to encourage passengers to work together, move into the train and put smiles on their faces.
With sayings like, “Teamwork makes the dream work,” and “Have a Five-Star Day,” Freeman has become somewhat of a local celebrity, both in person, and online.
On any given day, during his shifts, strapholders take to Twitter to comment about how great a trip on Freeman’s train car can be.
Officials at the T even receive emails lauding Freeman for his daily positivity.
Freeman said his signature catchphrases, which he first started using several years ago as an operator on the Red Line, have led to people recognizing him in public, even without his uniform.
“I’ve been at the Braintree Plaza, and people will be like ‘that’s the five star day guy,’” he said, laughing about the scenario.
He said the inspiration for his remarks to riders came from instructions given by his employers to announce stops “clearly,” and “concisely.”
Freeman, who has been with the T for four years, said keeping that rule in mind, he tagged on his own personal touch.
“I just started doing it one day…’Teamwork makes the dream work’ stuck with me,” he said.
But a modest Freeman insisted he is just doing his job, nothing more.
“I’m just trying to do the right thing,” he said, standing at North Station during his break.
Freeman said, “one act of kindness goes a long way,” and even though some riders aren’t fans of his interactions over the intercom, telling him he talks too much, “everyone can have a bad day,” and his quotes are merely meant to spread happiness while easing the frustrations of the daily commute.
“The world needs more positivity. I’m not trying to save the world—I’m just trying to do my job and stay positive,” he said.