Kelowna driver gives young customer a giraffe!

Norm gave a giraffe to a young customer

Norm Poch has been driving for BC Transit in Kelowna for about 11 years, but he’s been making balloon animals a lot longer. It actually started when his kids were young and they were at a lower mainland beach awaiting a fireworks display. When a university student saw that his 3 year old son was getting a little fidgety, she offered to create an instant distraction.

“When she handed him that balloon mouse, he totally calmed down and it lasted long enough for the sun to go down and fireworks to start,” said Norm Poch. “I looked at this thing and thought that it couldn’t be that hard to learn.”

So Norm went to out and bought a bunch of balloons, a pump and a how-to book, and spent the better part of a Saturday in trial-and-error mode.

“I was at home with my kids all day, and my wife knew nothing about this. So when she got home from work eight hours later, she opened the door to about 75 misshapen balloon animals all over the house, much to her dismay. But the kids had a good time!”

That was more than 30 years ago, and Norm has been crafting these critters ever since. His younger son even got into the act, turning it into a mini business by entertaining waiting customers at a restaurant where he worked when he was a teenager.

For Norm, it’s always been something he’s done because it makes people happy. When his family moved to Kelowna, he started volunteering his time for a local elementary school library, Christmas school fun fairs and other public events. But also, just random encounters.

“I always carry balloons around in my pocket when we go shopping because if there’s a mother having a hard day because their child is bored stiff, I can help. When I tell the mom her child needs a rabbit of their own, they get a terrified look until I pull out my balloons.”

So that brings us to the route 97 on the afternoon of May 27, when a woman was riding the bus with her eight-year old granddaughter. They needed some help as they were planning to get off at a stop in Westbank that was unfamiliar, so Norm talked the grandmother through it and promised to let her know when the time had come to depart.

“When we got to the terminus and everyone got off, I called her and her granddaughter up and gave them walking directions to get to their destination. At that point I asked the little girl to name her favourite animal. She told me it was an ocelot, and I don’t do cats very well. We eventually landed on a giraffe, which I quickly made. She was absolutely thrilled.”

The grandmother was pretty happy too. Not only for the giraffe, but for the friendly advice and directions provided by Norm, who also talked to her about how she could potentially make handyDART service work for her.

A big thanks to Norm Poch from everyone at BC Transit for continuing to represent us so well and bringing people joy, one balloon animal at a time.