Tucson Bus System, Part 2: F-ing Red Robin

[Warning! I drop the F-bomb a few times in this due to quoting.  There is also some erm, more adult issues I mention in this. Sorry…it’s kind of unpleasant.  Normally I like to maintain a certain level of whimsy in this blog, but I now feel like I killed a unicorn and drank its blood.  We’ll go back to the regular programming of “Anne-Marie was kind of a stupid kid” stuff on the next entry.  I promise. Until then, I’m just going to sneak this into the blog with little fanfare to complete my two-part story…This is what they call a soft sell, isn’t it?]

No prior experience on the busses – no snotty mustaches, no crazy singing handicapable stalkers – prepared me for the day I only refer to as “The Bus Trip from Hell.”

My first summer staying in Tucson was a difficult one, but biggest problem I had was I was very broke and in need of a job.  I spent the summer going to different places and filling out applications.  Trying to find a part-time job in the summer in Tucson is next to impossible and I was becoming disheartened.  There were times I would spend the entire day on the bus, going from place to place filling out applications, using transfer after transfer to save money.  I became familiar, even comfortable with the regulars – the delusional androgynous person, for example.  Or the older chap I named Guggenheim.  I actually liked Guggenheim – he would sit in the same bus seat every day, leaving the space next to him empty.  He carried one of those plaid thermoses, and would hold the plastic thermos lid like it were a china cup, sipping from it gingerly, and chatting to his empty seat in a charming, distinguished voice.  As he’d talk, he’d stick his nose up in the air and occasionally roll his eyes over the story he was telling.  I could never understand what his conversations were about, but they seemed delightful.  I’m being serious – if I ever become delusional, I hope my delusion paints me as a Jane Austen character, enjoying tea and witty banter.  Except I don’t think he was drinking tea.

I decided to dedicate one day in particular to travelling all over Tucson by bus in an attempt to find a job.  I hopped on my bus earlier than normal – I was disappointed to not see the regulars – Guggenheim was nowhere to be found.  I sat at the front of the bus, in the seats that face each other.  Across from me was a person who seemed fixated on me.  After a few minutes, I noticed this person started to move their arm in an unnatural motion.  Don’t look.  You remember snotty mustache.  Looking sears awful things into memory.  Rule number one of Bus riding: do not make eye contact with anyone but the bus driver.  Keep the eyes down.  Don’t look, for God’s sake, do not look.  But it might be nothing, I – OH MY GOD.

Why did I look?  I hate you, brain.  Snotty mustache was bad, but this is really, really unpleasant.  He was glaring at me, no less.  That seriously just took off 5 years of my youth;  thanks a lot.  What does one do in this situation?  I know what you’re thinking;  you’re thinking I either tell the bus driver what is going on, or I freak out on the guy.  But see, you’re not thinking like a cynical poor person with limited money and a tight connection schedule.  If I did anything, the bus would stop.  I’d miss my connection.  Maybe I’d have to talk to a cop about pressing some charge against the guy for public indecency.  I’d screw up my entire day of filling out applications, and go home traumatized and without a job prospect.  After all of that, they won’t do anything anyway, because that sort of thing isn’t a priority.  No.  My ride is only a few minutes long, and I’ll just get off, fill out some applications and hop on the next bus.  I stared ahead at the road and tried to think of something else.  Thankfully, my asshole brain agreed that this one isn’t one to tease me with.  I switched busses and made my job application rounds.  I spent a lot of time around the southeastern part of town, hoping I’d get a job at the Barnes & Noble.  That would be a decent job for a college student… I spent a couple of hours applying for other positions in the area.

By 3pm, I decided I had enough and went to the corner to wait for the next bus.  It was over 100 out and I was tired and sweaty.  I couldn’t wait to get back to my utilities-included apartment and cool off.  When I arrived at the bus stop, I knew I was approaching bad news.  Some dude was flailing his arms around and talking loudly.  He was cursing, but about what I couldn’t determine.  The other people at the bus stop gave me “the look” when I sat down.  “The look” translates to, “he’s a psychopath and/or on drugs.  Look out.”  I gave a gentle nod and avoided eye contact with him.  The bus was supposed to arrive in 10 minutes.  I could deal with this.

“Fuck!  Shit!  I am so fucking pissed off, man!  You know what I’m doing today?  I’m going to fucking Red Robin.  Every Friday I go to fucking Red Robin, and I get some muthafuckin’ fries.  Man, I’m going to fuck somebody up!  Who are you looking at, asshole?  You fucking with me?  Don’t fuck with me, because you know what I’m doing right now?  I’m heading up to fucking Red Robin.  Every Friday, muthafuckas.  Shit!”

It went on for 20 minutes.  Where the hell is the bus?  I looked at the bus stop on the other side of the intersection.  That bus would take me downtown, and I’d have to take two additional busses to get home.  No.  That’s money I can’t afford to lose, and it adds an extra hour to the trip.

Someone walked up to the bus stop, which was becoming increasingly crowded and impatient.  “Hey,” Mr. F-ing Red Robin calmly acknowledged our new attendant.

“Hey.”  The guy didn’t know any better.  Newbie.

F-ing Red Robin went off.  “You fucking with me bro?”

“No…I –”

“Fuck you!  Fuck you, you muthafuckin’ asshole.  I’m going to fucking Red Robin and I’m going to have a muthafuckin’ cheeseburger!  So fuck off!”

Oh, God.  It dawned on me.  Fucking Red Robin is at the Fucking Mall – past my fucking apartments.  I’m going to be on the bus with this guy for 40 minutes once the damn bus gets here.

F-ing Red Robin punched a trash can.  “AHHHHHHHHRRRRRGGGGAAAAHHH!!!!”

I thought about my dwindling money.  Do I eat or do I stay safe?  Eat?  Safety?  Eat?  Safety?  Well, I could stretch out the mac and cheese to a couple of days… and I can’t eat its powdery goodness if I’m dead.  And who knows when I’d get home?  The bus was already late, and if this guy gets any worse, it’s going to get pretty ugly.

I calmly stood up and crossed the street.  The other bus arrived and I hopped on.  I looked back at my comrades waiting for the F-ing Red Robin bus.  They were still waiting.  F-ing Red Robin was strangling the bus stop sign.  I made the right choice.  In one day you can only take so much crazy.

I slumped down in one the seats towards the front that faced each other.  I looked across from me and saw a friendly-looking girl.  I gave a tired smile and a nod.  She averted my gaze, stuck her paper transfer in her mouth and promptly ate it.  I shrugged my shoulders.  Could be worse…