|South Wales Transport 1980|
For almost all of my adult life I’ve been working for public transport. For many years I drove for South Wales Transport in the Llanelli and Swansea areas and then for a while in London. The last 20 something years, I’ve worked here in Los Angeles County, sunny southern California. I have a very high opinion of what I do; sometimes I suspect my opinion of mass transit is higher than the management and politicians who are in charge. Mass transit is essential to modern civilization. When viewed on a macro level it becomes very easy to lose sight of the individuals. Those people who need public transport are viewed simply as a group and are figured into planning as a group. Bus drivers see things differently, and bus drivers see real people every day.
I used to drive the 66 line in Los Angeles, it goes from the Wilshire and Western area, through the city to East L.A. Doesn’t mean much unless you live here but it’s worth mentioning that the line goes through the Hispanic communities and some very poor neighborhoods.
|Los Angeles Metro 2005|
One young man would catch my bus regularly, he worked all day for a little above minimum wage then he would ride home on this overcrowded bus. He never had a place to sit so he would stand at the front and we got to talking. His frequent subject of conversation was all about how proud he was of his wife. While he was in work, she would be taking care of their two children and taking care of the rented apartment. She would also be making Tamales. He said they were the best Tamales anyone ever tasted. As soon as he got home he would pick up this bucket, filled to the top with his wife’s cooking and catch the next bus to McArthur Park. (Anyone who has seen the movie “Volcano” has seen McArthur Park) The tamales would all be sold in less than an hour he would tell me.
It’s been a few years since I have seen this young man, I’m in management these days so I don’t drive the buses anymore, but I think of him often. I never heard him say anything negative and I can’t help but believe that he and his wife are going to make it. With that kind of optimism, that kind of work ethic and that kind of sticking together and working together they are certain to succeed.
The other thought that occurs to me is; one day, when they are materially successful and reaping the harvest of their efforts, they may look back and see these days as the happiest days of their lives.