Recent North Dallas High graduate James Crayton has one of the coolest jobs this summer. He operates a McKinney Avenue Trolley in the Uptown area.
“It is. Sometimes I just deny that it’s really cool,” James said on a recent Saturday. “I look at it as a pretty fun job. I get to have fun unlike some other jobs, where I’m sure some people don’t have fun.”
James has been an operator for the trolley for about a year. He started as a conductor, assisting the riders in the car. The rides are free. The M-Line travels in a loop down McKinney Avenue to Blackburn Street, then Cole Avenue and then into downtown and back out to McKinney Avenue.
When it comes to operating the trolley, James said he mostly uses his hands, and he toots the horn with his feet. He also turns the car around at the end of Cityplace W. Boulevard. The trolley barn is located off Bowen Street.
“It doesn’t take as long to learn how to drive a streetcar,” he said. “It only takes maybe a week, and if you’re really pushing it, you can actually learn how to drive it in about a day.”
Is it similar to driving a car?
“It actually is, but you don’t have to steer,” James said with a laugh. “On most of the cars, you’re just using your hands. You don’t have to turn it. It’s all set with the track. All I have to do is make it stop and go.”
But at the same time, the trolley can be stressful, especially when dealing with traffic, mainly cars, on McKinney Avenue.
“Especially during rush hour from 4 to 7 p.m.,” James said. “It’s a little stress at times, but after that, it’s smooth as it could be.”
James is also taking 12.5 hours, which includes football, this summer at Texas College in Tyler. He said he wakes up at 6:30 p.m., and he’s not out until after 7 p.m. He said he has a few breaks. His football class is from 3 to 5 p.m. He was planning to play for former ND Coach Charles Moss at Texas College, but has had a change of heart.
“I’m actually taking summer courses at Texas College right now, where I’m playing football at. I’m actually not going to stay in that program. I’m not staying at that school,” he said. “I’m going to finish up my associate’s degree at El Centro. I was going to play football at Texas College but I decided that I didn’t like that school. It’s a little too far. I didn’t like it. So I decided to either go to El Centro or I might go to UNT.”
James said he plans to major in Business Administration, and he will try out for football.
“I do plan to pursue football at UNT, but if it doesn’t work, I have the business,” he said. “That’s really what I want.”
Informing Coach Moss about his decision wasn’t easy.
“I had a meeting with him this week,” James said. “He’s kinda sad that I’m leaving Texas College, transferring to another school.”
At North Dallas, James was listed as 6-foot, 225-pounds and played linebacker on defense and sometimes running back on offense for the Bulldogs. He made the All-District 12-5A team last season, and was among the nominees for the Texas Football’s 2016 Subway Super Team. He said he enjoyed taking classes at North Dallas.
“It was fun. I don’t regret going to North Dallas,” he said. “It took me some places. I like it. I thought it was horrible when I was there but it’s actually a pretty good school — better than most schools I would say.”
For now, James operates the trolley on weekends.
“The fun part is you get to meet a lot of new people. All across the world,” James said. “A lot of people come down to visit Dallas and they get on a trolley. You learn about them and where they are from. That’s probably the funest part of working for the trolley.”