Definition of “dispatch” according to the Merriam Webster online dictionary:
“(1) to send off or away with promptness or speed; especially: to send off on official business, (2) a : to kill with quick efficiency, b: obsolete : deprive, (3) to dispose of (as a task) rapidly or efficiently, (4) defeat”
As you can see from the number of posts I’ve written on the subject, New Jersey Transit is a big part of my life. After 7 years of using the system on an average of 10 times a week (weekdays a.m. and p.m.), I guess it would have to be, or else I have no life: you decide. To truly appreciate the “NJ Transit Experience,” one must first know The Dispatchers.
When Lorin and I first started riding the bus, the dispatcher at our gate, Infamous Gate 224, was a fellow he nicknamed “Porky” after–you guessed it—Porky Pig. But a mean Porky Pig. Porky had a face resembling a frying pan–flat, inert, with dull brown eyes. He sauntered up and down the bus passageway, seemingly without purpose and would disappear for minutes or hours at a time. We joked that he was on a perpetual French fry break. He never communicated to us commuters what was going on when there were significant delays. One time a commuter asked him where the 6:15 (you fill in the time) bus was and showed him the bus schedule. Porky said, “The schedule is a guideline, there are no guarantees” in a deep gruff voice. Mystery solved. Porky vanished several months ago and no one seems to miss him.
Suave is dapper, well-groomed and sleek, and has the air of a Miami nightclub owner. You never know when he will appear, and when he does, you can be sure he will be looking fine–never breaks a sweat. He saunters even more aggressively than Porky, never communicates with us and when a bus finally appears after waiting, say 45 to 60 minutes, he talks to the bus driver for what seems an eternity. The express line may be snaked around 4 times with no breathing room, but he’ll probably dispatch another local bus. A couple weeks ago after we had been waiting for over an hour, a commuter started banging on the plexi(?) glass barrier, “Do your fucking job! Send us an express! Do your fucking job!” I was gratified to see someone up in arms at Suave’s incompetence. Suave did not respond to the commuter directly, but he did switch the bus from local to express. Suave never speaks directly to any of us. He’s far too . . . suave.
Man Mountain Dean.
Man Mountain Dean, so-named after the famed wrestler born Frank Simmons in NYC in 1891. Suffice it to say, he is a mountain of a man. MMD gets the job done. Strong and silent. He bellows into his walkie talkie for buses, and the buses do come. He lets you know if it’s an express or a local and keeps the lines moving at a steady clip. God bless MMD! He has not been seen in a while. Perhaps he has found another calling, a higher mountain. We may never know.
O Captain! My Captain!
Last, but not least, is O Captain! My Captain! (OCMC). A 20-year veteran of NJ Transit (former bus driver), he is at Gate 224 two to three nights a week and fills beleaguered commuters with hope for a brighter future. He communicates with us, he barks orders into the walkie-talkie, he cracks a joke here and there, he helps old ladies onto the bus. He is our hero! From time to time he says, “163 bus to nowhere!” and we all laugh. We understand. Where are we going after all? With him we feel safe. We know he will lead us on to victory or at least get us on a musty bus to Hackensack. God bless our Captain!
“O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring . . .”
– Walt Whitman