As a bus driver for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, Tommy C. Seay Sr. gets people to their destinations on time, and he sends them off with a smile. Seay was raised in Buffalo's Cold Spring section, the fifth of 11 children. At age 54, he is married with two grown sons, and he lives on Grand Island.
Seay likes to study the Bible and credits his mother with pushing him along the road to evangelism. A graduate of World Harvest Bible College in Columbus, Ohio, Seay has authored two faith-based books. He self-published second, "A Purposeful Life in Dual Dimensions," in April 2011.
>People Talk: When did you become an evangelist?
Tommy Seay: Ten years ago, but I've been a student of the word since Aug. 15, 1982, when I was born again. My mother was very instrumental in my change.
>PT: How so?
TS: She realized that when I was working at the Buffalo Hilton Hotel, I was coming in contact with some very powerful people. I was the limousine driver when Clement Chen was the owner. I was his personal driver, and I was in the fast lane.
I met Sugar Ray Leonard, Yul Brynner, Sammy Davis Jr., Harry Belafonte. Burt Reynolds personally gave me this belt buckle. Only one other person has the same buckle in the entire city, and he's deceased: Mayor James D. Griffin. I wear it only with my jeans every now and then.
>PT: So back to your mother.
TS: She kept on me, saying: "Son, come to church and let the pastor lay the hands on you. Let him pray for you." I wanted to get her off my back, so I went.
>PT: And now you're an evangelist. What is your style of preaching?
TS: I don't like to appeal to people's emotions, where you try and get people stirred up. I like to tap into people's intellect. I like to share knowledge. I like to think that I have a good understanding of the Bible, and I like to share what I think God has given me.
>PT: How long did it take for you to understand the Bible?
TS: When God's spirit dwells within, he illuminates your mind. It can happen overnight. You could wake up the next day. That's what happened to me and this book. In one year, I unlocked the Bible mystery that the church has been searching for for 2,000 years. It is so simple that it's scary.
>PT: Tommy, I can't let you preach here.
TS: I understand. I understand. It's easy for me to get loose, though.
>PT: How long did it take to write your books?
TS: Seven years. Guess where I wrote them? On the bus at the end of the line. Drivers do whatever they do at the end of the line. I write during my breaks.
>PT: What makes you a good bus operator?
TS: My willingness to serve, being there to assist in any possible way I can. I get people where they have to go safely and on time.
>PT: Do you live by the clock?
TS: Everything is regulated by time. That's one of the things NFTA has done for me -- made me time-conscious -- because I used to be late for everything. But now, if you're not there on time, you don't work. And if a man don't work, he don't eat, so I have to be there on time.
>PT: You may be able to sell more books writing about your experiences as a bus driver.
TS: Yeah, and I'm going to do that. Absolutely. I have three other books that I'm writing. What I like to do is to take what looks to be a contradiction in the Bible, and I provide new insight. If I live long enough, I want to write "The Great Tribulation, and the Astonished Church."
>PT: What are you known for on the bus?
TS: I'm known for my hat flipped up. For 30 years if they see my hat flipped up, they know that's the bus driver on the 24 line.
>PT: What challenges you as a bus operator?
TS: Dealing with the people in cars around the buses. The way they maneuver around buses, people don't understand how much weight [39,000 pounds without passengers] we're dealing with. We cannot stop as quick as a car, especially in the wintertime. God forbid you hit black ice.
>PT: As an evangelist, what do you find challenging?
TS: Trying to share what I find is truth with someone who is not receptive. I try to keep a soft tongue, because eventually a soft tongue will break the bone.
>PT: What do you do for fun?
TS: Create music. I love studying the Bible. My wife, we go to the movies every Saturday. Solomon said this: "Where there's no wood the fire goes out." You have to keep some wood on the fire.
>PT: What were you like as a kid?
TS: I was bad. I remember I wanted to start a band, and I didn't have a job, so I broke into church and took the organ. The deacons came to get the organ the next day. My dad roughed me up pretty good. I did eventually start a band called Magnum Force. I was rhythm and lead guitar and vocals. I probably have 50 songs that I'm just sitting on, you know.