Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The right side of the tracks

After spending most of my work week during the last pick on the 10, it's been a sort of homecoming to be on the 50 a couple days a week this pick*. I truly miss my friends on the 10 (you know who you are!) and the pleasantly predictable trek from Central Terminal to Boca, but I can safely say the Dixie Highway corridor from downtown FTL to Deerfield is my comfort zone. The volatile and fertile mix of history and progress are seen along every segment of its length. This is where east-central Broward began, and the list of destinations along the route only confirms this.

Central Terminal>FTL City Hall>Progresso>FTL High>Wilton Drive/WM City Hall/Five Points>OP City Hall>Jaco Pastorius Park>Prospect>Northeast High>Cypress Creek>Dogpatch>Pompano City Hall>Ward's City>NE Transit Center>Goodyear blimp base>Copans>Sample>Tallman Pines>Pineview Cemetery

That last one is a mystery. What other route goes directly through a cemetery? The pines are gone, cleared to make space for a passage of life...

The majority of Dixie runs parallel to the FEC RR, which forever changed South Florida since the first trains rolled through in 1896. Through all the incredible surrounding change in a relatively short timespan, the railroad remains. Soon it will again carry passengers rather than only freight, something it hasn't done since the 1960s. There is a certain thrill especially on the Pompano and Deerfield segments when the train and the bus keep apace of each other for a short while, workhorses fulfilling their daily duties. Occasionally the iron horse delays our northbound journey uptown at the Flagler crossing, but like an old friend makes up for it later when a plodding mile-long multi-engine blocks enough east-west crossings to give the 50 a steady string of green lights.

Another major change for me since last pick is switching from pm to am shifts. Whereas before I was pulling out the last 10 of the night, now I pull out the first 50 in the morning. At that time the sun hasn't even thought about rising yet, so I count on the coach's headlights and the random floating cell phone screen to service customers along those northbound stretches close by the RR where street lights aren't necessary. At some point, gradually enough to be taken for granted, the sun rises on this vehicle full of hardworking day laborers, gentle grandmothers, Haitian housewives, students - and a driver. The builders and makers who get the hard jobs done. The backbones of our families. The future faces learning their way.

*FYI, a 'pick' is the term for a bus operator's regular weekly schedule of runs. This occurs several times per year, when operators 'pick' their runs based on seniority.

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