A London man who was once homeless is celebrating turning his life around and considers himself the city’s happiest bus driver.
Patrick Lawson told CBS News that he spent time in jail and fell victim to drugs and violence and once felt that he’d be stuck in that cycle forever.
“My whole teenage years if I wasn’t on the street, I was in jail,” he told CBS News. “Being on the street and the position I was in, having been unhappy, nowhere to live, my mind was just focused on drugs and violence. I stopped and thought, ‘Wow, how did I end up here?'”
Lawson said that he spent almost 50 years in and out of homelessness, addicted to drugs and when he hit “rock bottom” he decided that he would turn his life around.
“I saw the big issue and I hit rock bottom… it made me realize that if there was ever a hell, this is hell,” said Lawson. “I believed I was going to die. I thought of my young teenage children and I thought, ‘If I make it through this, I’ve got to turn my life around.’”
Lawson enrolled in programs that helped homeless Londoners get jobs and received treatment for his drug addiction, and was able to find a job, despite his reservations, at a bus company, HCT Group, that took a chance on him
“I was fearful they wouldn’t take me because of my past and my record,” said Lawson. “I decided I was going to be honest… I spoke to a trainer and said, ‘Listen, I have a criminal record, is that going to be a problem?’”
Lawson added that on his first day on the job he began to greet every passenger, something that impressed the experienced bus driver he was with.
“She said, ‘Let’s see how long that’s going to last,'” he said as he continued welcoming riders. “Then she said, ‘Wow! In my 20 years of bus driving I’ve never seen someone so happy!'”
Click here to read more about Lawson’s story.
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Teddy is a multimedia journalist who serves as the culture and political writer for EBONY. His work has appeared in NBC's Owned and Operated stations, as well as DNAInfo, which covered local neighborhood news in New York City. He received his Masters in Journalism from the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY in 2017.