Meet Nelson Lum: Transportation Services

Published on December 17, 2014


San Francisco resident Nelson Lum joined Transportation Services as a shuttle driver the day after the tragic Oakland Hills fire in October 1991. Over the past 24 years, Nelson has served in many different positions at Transportation Services. We sat down with Nelson recently to talk about his time at Campus Life Services.

Q). Tell us about your background. Where were you raised? Where did you go to school?

A). I was born and raised in San Francisco, so I’m a native. I attended George Washington High School and then went to San Francisco State University. This is my city, and I don’t want to live anywhere else. I’m used to the mild weather here, and the great diversity of food and culture San Francisco offers.

Q). What led you to your position at Transportation Services?

A). I was working for a company in Sunnyvale that manufactured hard disk drives for Apple computers. The company closed down and a friend who was driving shuttles at UCSF suggested I apply for a job. I drove from October of 1991 to February of 1992.

Q). Describe the different roles you’ve had in Transportation Services and why you have enjoyed each one.

A). In February of 1992 I was invited to work in the front office as an administrative assistant. That led to my job as a Parking Supervisor. In between, I also took on an internship as a Facilities Coordinator with CLS Facilities Management in 2007. I love driving, so being a shuttle driver was a natural fit for me. I had independence, worked outdoors, and met a variety of people at UCSF. Driving for this department gave me a chance to explore the different neighborhoods in San Francisco and other nearby cities.

I had the pleasure to serve as the personal driver for four different UCSF chancellors. I also drove for Frank Jordan, our former mayor, and Carroll O’Connor, who played Archie Bunker on All in the Family.

Working in the office also has its advantages. I experienced first hand how our department operates, and everything that goes on behind the scenes.

Q). What is your current role in Transportation Services?

A). We just reorganized our department and I was appointed Administrative Support Supervisor. We’re still in the process of defining this new role for me, but it will be in the area of supporting the department’s parking and shuttle administrative operations.

Q). What is your favorite thing about working in Transportation Services?

A). The people. It has to be the people I work with that make me want to stay in Transportation Services all these years. I like trying many types of food and my coworkers like sharing their lunches with me. We have “Pupusa Day” every so often when our whole office order pupusas, and enjoy them together. Pupusa is a Salvadorian dish made of thick handmade corn tortillas filled with cooked pork or cheese.

Q). What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

A). Although our shuttle service tries to get people to their destination on time, there are extenuating circumstances that can hinder us from doing so. There’s traffic, inclement weather, assisting passengers with a disability, and other situations that we have to work through.

Q). If there is one thing customers should know about Transportation Services at UCSF, what would that be and why?

A). There’s more to this department than a safe and reliable parking and shuttle service. We manage a vanpool and buspool program, a pretax savings program for transit commuters, and facilitate bicycle parking throughout the campuses. We have set agreements with rental car agencies and taxi companies for the UCSF community. We assist departments with their vehicle purchases, and DMV registration. So we’re a full service department.

Q). What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

A). I’m an Elder in the Golden Gate Park Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. That is where I spend much of my free time. When I get a chance, I like to do something relaxing, like riding my bike, skiing and snowboarding, playing volleyball, and shoot photography.

Q). I understand you’ve had a harrowing experience on your snowboard.

A). Yes. I broke my left wrist when I was a beginner at snowboarding. I was supposed to land on my shoulder and side when falling, but in this particular instance, I used my hand to break my fall instead. I came to work the next day with my arm in a cast and everyone asked me why was I coming into work?!?

Q). You also hold a couple of milestones when it comes to work.

A). I’ve been fortunate to be healthy and I’ve only had to call in sick one day since joining the department. It was February of 2012 and I had flu-like symptoms. (If you’re wondering, I currently have 1,860 hours of sick leave). I also had a 28-hour workday when I was transitioning from my internship at CLS Facilities Management back to Transportation Services. I think it’s one of the longest single workdays in the history of my department.

Q). If there is one thing your coworkers should know about Nelson Lum, what would that be?

A). I’m an introvert, so don’t expect to get a long conversation out of me. I’m surprised that I even agreed to this interview.