Trent Costello was not going to leave Pat and the Elephant clients in his dust.
The long-time manager of the not-for-profit transportation service gave them plenty of notice that last month would mark the end of his 22-year run.
He started preparing them for his departure one year in advance. He didn’t want to be there one day and suddenly gone for good the next. Such was his close tie to the clients that consist of many people that rely on the specially equipped vans to get from point A to point B.
There are clients with physical challenges, clients with visual impairment, clients in need of wheelchairs for mobility.
Costello, who turns 60 in August, always made a point of treating all of his clients with the utmost respect — just how he imagines they would want to be treated.
The connection with one client to the next would not only be professional, but personal.
A slight movement of the eyes by one lady is all Costello would need to direct him to adjust a straw for her to drink.
He always looked the clients in the eye. He also got to know their family.
“If you can’t treat people like you want to be treated, you are in the wrong business,’’ he says.
Costello loved the business he was in.
He started in 1992 as a driver after having spent 20 years working in transportation with the military. After three or four years as a driver, Costello became the manager of Pat and the Elephant.
He would still drive from time to time. Notably, he would never miss Christmas Day.
First, he would put on a suit and tie and take his family out for brunch. Then he would go home to change and head off to work.
He would typically drive clients to the home of family members to enjoy Christmas celebrations and a nice meal.
He would drive but he would not get paid. This was his Christmas gift to Pat and the Elephant.
“I didn’t put in for wages because it was something I enjoyed,’’ he says of his own holiday tradition that spanned more than two decades.
Fittingly, even his retirement party benefitted the service. The proceeds from the party — a couple thousand dollars and change — went to the Pat and the Elephant Capital Equipment Fund.
A surprise was sprung on Costello as he headed into work in July for his final day. Five Pat and the Elephant vans met him along the way.
He fell in behind the first van and the four others followed Costello as he was given an escort to work. The send-off hit the mark.
“It was a special feeling,’’ he says.