"Jazz Man" bus driver transferred for giving out his phone number

Rarely does the transferring of a bus driver make headlines.

But for University of Minnesota students and alumni, this is truly a tragic day. After 12 years, Rob Thompson, the U of M's storied "Jazz Man," has been transferred away from his campus route.

Thompson is a legend at the college, recognizable for his dark sunglasses, always-cheery "hey baby" greetings, and tendency to blast jazz music like Miles Davis from a boombox while cruising from the St. Paul to Minneapolis campus and back.

Students are clearly pissed about the news. Here's what one person wrote on a fan Facebook page for the Jazz Man:

He made such an impact at the U of M, the Minnesota Daily is playing up his departure as the top story today.

Maureen Richmond, spokeswoman for First Transit, the transportation company that contracts with the U of M, wouldn't say why they transferred Thompson. But the Daily reports Thompson was punished because he gave a passenger his phone number to "talk jazz."

Apparently this is not Ok.

Playing jazz from a boombox on the bus didn't factor into the decision to transfer him, says Richmond.

Thompson is now driving the Brooklyn Center line, where he's not allowed to play jazz anymore.

Asked if Thompson will ever return to the U of M, Richmond says it's possible.

"Certainly that's something that we'll work with him on," she says.

Here's the explanation the Jazz Man's fan Facebook page (which doesn't appear to be run by Thompson) gives for leaving:

"My awesomeness went unbounded for too long. The campus connector head honchos couldn't take it. They saw too many happy faces, too many students whose days had been turned around because of my smile, because of my Hey Baby's, because of my JAZZ."

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