Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Good things will grow

The 40 seems to be the route that keeps on giving. Perhaps because it traverses such a broad section of the county, unlike the other routes I'm driving this pick. It seems like a lot of my recent posts are about experiences on the 40. Yes, I do other routes each week too, but they tend to be straight-shot routes that generally adhere to a single major thoroughfare.

10 - Miles and miles along a single street (US 1) until we turn at the north and south ends.
36 - A steady trek along Sunrise from one side of the county to the other; from the waves to the glades with a side trip through Deepside.
441 Breeze - A hectic, fast-paced bullet ride from north Broward to north Dade 99.9% on US 441/SR 7.

Like I've mentioned before, the 40 has many faces so I hesitate to label it. It's not strictly a neighborhood route since it also spends half the trip on 17th St and A1A. And any ideas that it might be catering to cruise ship visitors or beachgoers are quickly dispelled once we head west of Central Terminal. The best part is that no matter which segment you're on, passengers are very likely to be be sociable, inquisitive, and surprising.

This pick I drive the first 40 eastbound from Lauderhill Mall. I make the turn onto 12th Street with the empty bus and can see a few people milling about on the boarding platform. As I get closer, more people emerge from the bus shelters and from various spots further down the platform. By the time I pull into the bay, the pad is covered and everyone's anxious to board. We're scheduled to pull out of the mall at 7:40 am on Sunday mornings. By that time, the other connecting routes have already arrived multiple times. People need to get to work and church, so of course the first 40 is going to see heavy usage. If the route didn't have to enter the mall or Central Terminal, an artic bus would be the way to go since we'll have a standing load within 10 minutes of pullout, and we still haven't serviced Sistrunk, which is when it gets really tight. Fortunately that initial intensity is relieved once we reach Central Terminal and most regulars know this so they're patient during the momentary discomfort. Also while everyone naturally wants to claim one of the limited seats available, they're also routinely accommodating when a wheelchair passenger boards or an elderly person needs a seat. This is the route where people drop their pretensions and do their good deed for the day.

We're eastbound on Sistrunk, crossing 9th Ave. I can see a young man, maybe 30, on the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street. He's looking around curiously, sees the bus, and rushes across to the bus stop. As he boards, he's visibly sweating and flustered as he struggles to find his fare and slide a crumpled bill in the box. There's a vibe of anxiety here, and he hurriedly finds a seat. The bus is quiet this trip, maybe as folks anticipate the connections they'll make at Central Terminal.
The young man speaks up: "I love my kids, man. Broward County will f*** you up. Every time I get high...," apparently to another passenger, another young man. The worry and wondering is palpable. Whatever life issue he is going through has affected him deeply and he's reaching out for some direction.
"You need to stay focused on what you tryin' to do, and good things will grow," the other replied in a calm and measured way that bore the weight of hard-won wisdom. Direction discovered.

Incidents like this remind me of what's important in our interactions with each other, and I can't be reminded too often.

On my last trip to Central Terminal, where I'm due to be relieved by another driver, I'm extra attentive to the time points so I can make the relief on time while not missing any passengers. There's no leisurely driving on this trip, it's a full-focus effort to keep to the schedule. It's at those times the outside world intrudes into our little worlds. All of a sudden more people than usual need extra attention, or we hit every red light, or the train is crossing, or any number of things that conspire to throw us off schedule. If we're not careful, we may become resentful of these intrusions and behave less than our best. Or we can recognize the moment, not resist it, and see where it leads. Despite the possibility that I might be a couple minutes late to the relief after a long time at the wheel, I gave those who boarded the respect they deserved and attention they required.

As we approached Andrews, an older man I picked up at the west end of Sistrunk took a moment to speak to me as he exited.
"You're a good driver, man. Don't get jaded. Don't get jaundiced or jaded." Another moment of perfect timing and remindful encouragement. I thanked him.

On the 40 we learn we're all connected, and strength is shared for the hard road ahead.

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