Waiting for the number thirty bus heading downtown near the corner of Mission and Turquoise in Pacific Beach can be an interesting time.
Gator and his buddies are usually around and always open to stimulating conversation. Then there are the middle-aged Latina cleaning ladies who trickle to the metal bus bench from the pricey homes nearby. I like to eavesrrop in on their conversations. In a worse case scenario I can spend seventy-five cents for a copy of The San Diego Union Tribune from the rack next to the bus stop because I didn't have time to purchase The Los Angeles Times that morning when I transferred at the Old Town station.
Sometimes, I'm so tired from work that I don't want to talk to Gator, listen to the cleaning ladies or read any city's newspaper. It was on one of those days that the number thirty showed up late.
I had been waiting for close to an hour. One of Gator's friends had started spinning the same yarn for the second time and there were so many cleaning ladies huddled together you'd a thought there was a quarterback kneeling in the middle scratching out plays in the dirt.
To say I was angry as the time dragged on would be an exageration but I was definitely peeved and verging on pissed off. The old indicator needle on the emotions meter blew right past pissed off when not one but two, big red San Diego MTS number thirty buses pulled up in front of us, one right behind the other. Both were about three-quarter full of standing and sitting riders, in that raggedy ass, haphazard way that makes it hard to find a seat. It doesn't help that there's a tough as nails offensive line of cleaning ladies in front of you that aren't going to move until there good and ready.  
Exhaustion won out over anger as I finally boarded my red carriage and prepared to be whisked away to my palatial wooden shack in El Fin Del Mundo. I had gotten lucky and found a seat in the back of the bus without to much trouble. I took this to be a good sign and settled in like a good citizen for the long commute home.
About five or ten minutes later, just before the Wendy's on Grand Ave in PB. A middle aged, gentleman boarded the number thirty and was he ever livid! His emotions meter had to be in full blown meltdown as he stormed onto the bus. When the seething MTS rider first stepped aboard he paused and said something to the MTS driver. I couldn't hear most of it but he definitely had something to say about not one but two buses pulling up late. As he walked to the back of the bus, the angry MTS commuter was yanking out his cellphone in that "I'm large and in charge' style that some people possess. He did it in the subconscious way of a man used to giving orders. Orders that were to be obeyed and not questioned. 
The angry commuter pressed one button on his cellphone and held it to his ear as he sat across from me. "Hello, is this the (unintelligible) at the MTS," or something to that effect were his words.
'Damn,' I thought to myself. 'This fellow has the MTS on speed dial!' If I knew how to work the speed dial gizmo on my cellphone, I would have my mother's, my girlfriend's and maybe my boss's numbers on there and that's it.
I don't know who answered the phone at the MTS but I immediately felt sympathy toward that person. The seething MTS rider laid into the MTS rep with a blistering denunciation of substandard efficiency and lackadaisical work efforts. In a firm but eloquent manner the gentleman impressed upon the person at the other end of the mostly one way conversation just how much his schedule had been interrupted by their tardiness. An hour really meant a lot to this MTS passenger.
His manner of speaking was frank and abrupt. There sat a man who didn't waste words with niceties. I noticed that his clothes were a mismatched jogging outfit and running shoes. They were clean but used. Like the exercise clothes of someone who actually exercised. The gentleman kept his cuss words to a minimum. Those that he did use were no worse than something you'd hear on network primetime. Not once did he drop an f-bomb. He was obviously enraged at having to wait for an hour but he wasn't out of control. Much as it first seemed. His was a focused anger. I got the impression that this guy regularly operated in anger mode. It was a part of his personality. His overall character make up. He knew the rules. You can be as big of an angry jerk as you want, just don't touch a person or use extremely foul language. When you think about it, that leaves a lot of wiggle room for bullying and obnoxious. The angry commuter was finally placated by whatever he was told by the representative on the other end and settled down. Later on I saw him chatting amicably with a fellow passenger. 'Mellow is so much more cool than raging,' I say.
Now let's just pretend that intelligent gentleman on the number thirty was dumb enough (like me) to live in El Fin Del Mundo and therefore have to ride the Otay Border- Altiplano route. First of all, having to wait an hour for the OB - A bus is the norm because it only runs once an hour. Late for them can leave you waiting an hour and a half, two hours, no problem. Not for them anyway.
When the distinguished gentleman with the commanding presence would attempt to convey his fury over there lack of punctuality, the bus driver (at least many that I get) will just nod his head, smile and say, "Asi es (That's how it is)."
It would also be difficult for him to storm down the aisle to the back of the bus because the little jitneys that run the route are less than half the size of an MTS bus. They ride more like top heavy, covered wagons than sleek people movers. When the irate bus rider would try to sit down and rant at a representative over the phone, there's all the possibility that he would go ass over tea kettle onto the floor because his seat wasn't bolted down. And since he would have that damn cellphone in his hand he'd only have one hand to use to grab onto something.
He would be laid out on the grubby floor of the tiny bus and a bunch of blue collar, brown faces would be staring down at him, nodding their heads and saying, "Asi es (That's how it is)."
There is definitely a difference in attitude when it comes to customer service viz a viz Mexico and the U.S. but that's another story.
In all honesty, there is a phone number stenciled onto the inside of every one of those buses. When I first started commuting on them I so desperately wanted to dial that number and curse them out for their shoddy (in my opinion) performance. I knew though, that I could never do it in the confident and professional manner like the gentleman on the MTS. Mine would have been a profanity laced tirade.
Even if I'd summoned the self control to try and diplomatically communicate my displeasure. It would be impossible for the simple reason that my Spanish is just not good enough for that.
So every day I ride these buses and stare at that number stenciled in the bus. I stew in my own peeved juices, work myself into a snit and think of the things I would tell the bus rep if I only spoke better Spanish and had better self control. But deep down in my heart I know that I'll never dial that number. You see, I once had a dream;
'I've been standing (not a lot of bus benches in Tijuana) waiting for the Otay Border - Altiplano bus for two hours plus. I'm tired and pissed off. I've learned to operate the speed dial thing on my cellphone (this is a dream remember) and lo and behold, just like the authoritive figure on the MTS, I have this company on speed dial. As the bus finally pulls into view I whip out my brand new, really expensive, multi-functional cellphone and do the speed dial thing.
A silken, ever so sexy voice answers and says;
"Bueno (Hello)?"
Without further ado I speak my mind just as firmly and adeptly as the man on the MTS. When I am finished, there is a slight pause before she says;
"Asi es (That's how it is)" and hangs up on me.
I throw myself under the bus as it rolls by. 
Coffee's Ready Gotta Go

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