Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Farewell 40 (for now)
The infamous 40, bane of many a bus operator mostly because of an impossible schedule during certain hours of the day, certainly reminded me of this concept. Now that I'm no longer on the 40 and can look at it a bit more objectively it occurs to me that I actually miss the chaotic fury it carried me through. Fortunately, my new routes bring similar mind-numbing action so I can cope with the loss.
Being a Broward native, virtually every route has some connection to my life at various stages. The 40 goes right by Broward General, where my journey began, and also Sunset Memorial Gardens, where it'll probably end. In between is the stuff of Life. I miss the familiar regulars, the views from 17th St bridge, Swap Shop people, BBQs on Sistrunk, Outcast Ryders MC, and threading the bus through the Eye of the Needle by the county courthouse.
The last day on the 40 was typical of the previous runs. A Sunday morning run, for the most part an unrushed piece, except for the first trip out of the Hill, and regular lane closures on A1A for special events.
"My favorite driver - announcing driver - only announcing driver," was the cheery greeting I received from a regular, a homeless gentleman who without fail kept his luggage protected in heavy duty black plastic garbage bags. Sometimes the onboard announcer isn't working so if the PA system is functional I take to the mic and announce the time points and points of interest. Apparently most drivers don't offer this service, since I've received numerous comments about how unusual it is. To me it's a joy and honor to call out these names that are part of me.
Sunrise> World Famous Swap Shop> African American Research Library> Central Terminal> Main Library> Courthouse> Broward General> US 1> Port Everglades> Las Olas> Galleria
At the Galleria another regular awaits, also homeless, with the pungent ripeness of living rough. Sociable and refined in speech, he presents a more pragmatic presence than the previous passenger. Initial small talk about the weather makes way for headier topics such as current events, mass transit, and various occupations. On a different day, he made a wry joke about doing card tricks, and I think I caught him off guard when I presented him with a fresh deck and asked for a lesson.
At the Port a tourist explains he'll only pay the senior fare since he's "55 plus" and offers to show me his passport. I welcome him to Broward County and let him ride.
Every Sunday at 11 a.m. there is a looong line waiting for the doors to open at Tap 42, across from the hospital. It makes for an unlikely hot spot in an area still sleeping at that hour. Today it's doubly long. BBQ?
As we roll along Sistrunk, a woman sitting on a bus bench up ahead spots us, hurriedly grabs an armful of belongings off the bench, and does a modified bicycle kick to flag the bus. I can't say it's the first time I've stopped for legs, but it's the first time I've been stopped by them.
At the Hill, a lady puts some coins in the farebox, and one of them is rejected. She sees it's a foreign coin so naturally tosses it behind her onto the bus platform.
At the Central Terminal we pick up the smiling face of a newcomer from Jamaica by way of Boston. This guy has class and is bringing back the lost art of nice hats.
Near the end of my shift I pull into a stop for a recognizable regular. She's a young lady whose speech belies some level of learning disability, along with physical limitations. In spite of this she's kind of an inspiration because she doesn't let it paralyze her or render her inactive. She always has a smile for me and I ask if she had a good time at church, but today she's not smiling. She tells me another driver didn't lower the bus for her and slammed the door in her face when she didn't move fast enough. Now, I wasn't there so I can't vouch for her accusation, but there's no denying she's hurt and upset. It sickens me to see this sweet person, normally sociable and bright, down in the dumps due to mistreatment when we should all be looking out for her and assisting her as much as possible. She's counting on us to do our part, and it's not good for her to just be standing out on the streets any longer than necessary. Fortunately she's ok and this time it's more of an inconvenience than anything. I lower the bus for her.
Note: this pick you can find me on the 10, 50, 60, 72 and 595 Express. All over town on my tours of duty, hope to see you out there.