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First Person Singular: KegBus Driver Lara Johnson

Sunday, January 2, 2011; W02

We get all kinds of parties: bachelorette, wine tours, football games, old people, young people, married people, single people -- everyone needs to let loose. When people get on the KegBus, I tell them we have two rules. Rule number one: Don't vomit. Rule number two: Refer to rule number one. No vomit! Go out the window, in the trash can or tell me to pull over -- just don't puke on the bus.

As crazy as it sounds, I feel like everything I've done in my life has led me to this, has made driving around a bus full of drunk people the perfect job for me. I have always loved to drive. No matter what it was, I wanted to be behind the wheel of it. When I was 6, it was a go-kart. Before I got my license, I'd drive my car up and down the driveway, up and down, over and over again, feeling the power, the control of my car. In high school and college, I was always the designated driver.

I hated riding the bus as a kid. When you got on, everyone would stop talking and stare you up and down, check out what you're wearing, and that moment would last forever. Now, I love getting on the bus. Everyone makes me feel like I'm part of the party. I'm just the one providing the safety, and they're the ones providing the crazy!

During the day, I drive a school bus, and that's a lot more stressful. Even though there are no flashing lights and disco balls, there are people's kids, and I'm the one responsible for getting them home safely. I'm two different people during the day and at night. Lara on the KegBus is the one who gets to forget for a few hours that she's a mom from Purcellville. She gets to turn up the music that would keep her 6-year-old and 9-year-old up at night, and the bus is actually vibrating from the sound.

I've never seen people have more fun than what I see on here. They're singing along to the music, and older women -- and men -- are taking their turns on the dancer's pole. It's not raunchy, it's liberating. Everything about the bus -- the blacked-out windows; the noise; the thick, plush seats -- helps shut out real life. It really is Vegas on wheels -- what happens on the bus stays on the bus. I don't drive and tell. I don't judge.

Eventually, I'd love to be someone's personal driver. There's just something about that relationship, when someone completely trusts you to get them where they want to be.

-- Interview by Amanda Long

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