Staten Island senior, Roy Cotton, wants to live his life to the fullest. The best way to do that, he’s found, is on board his “Ouch Bus,” a converted and graffitied school bus named after his late son. While others may scoff at his unique way of life, for Roy, there’s no better way to be.
Roy’s son, Scott, died six years ago at age 31 due to kidney issues. His son used the moniker “Ouch” to tag his own graffiti work. So when Scott passed away, Roy got in touch with his son’s old friends and asked if they’d consider painting the bus in Scott’s memory.
And so, the “Ouch Bus” was born. The conversion into a recreational vehicle of sorts required a lot of hard work, but Roy was all too eager to take on a project after his own health scare.
While seniors aged 65 and older spent around $18,424 on personal health care in 2010, Roy suffered a heart attack at age 59 that changed everything. After experiencing severe chest pains on Christmas morning, Roy’s doctors immediately put in a stent.
“It’s kind of like the last thing I almost remember until like New Year’s Day — waking up seven days later, telling me I’m a miracle,” Roy told the Staten Island Advance. “I’m still here so I just decided to start enjoying life.”
Working on the “Ouch Bus” allowed Roy to finally realize his lifelong dream of building his own home with his unique specifications.
The flooring was a particularly good choice on Roy’s part, as bamboo floors are typically 20% more stable than the average hardwood floor. After that, he built a bed and kitchen, where he can even cook over his wood-burning stove.
While Roy still rents a room with a friend as a backup option, he loves his peaceful, quiet, and one-of-a-kind bus life. Often parking along the waterfront, he’s able to take in a beautiful view with close proximity to public restrooms and showers. Other than his rent, his monthly bills include insurance for his bus, fuel, and propane. He doesn’t even run a generator, opting instead to utilize solar panels on the bus’s roof.
He’s also careful to follow the advice he gave his son about his graffiti: be respectful.
Unlike the RVs often seen parked along Richmond Terrace and throughout the St. George area for days at a time, Roy makes it a point not to park in residential spots where he could become a nuisance. He doesn’t want to take someone’s spot or be a disruption. He simply wants to live and enjoy his life aboard the Ouch Bus.
“When I leave, nobody knows I was there.”