Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Asphalt life

There seems to be a certain comfort level for passengers on the 50 that other routes take longer to reach. Over here on the poor side of town we have plenty of spirit and life in us yet. The daily grind doesn't have to grind us into the asphalt.

I try to get the 50 every pick. This time around I drive it twice a week as the second piece of a split shift, the first piece being an express run to the Civic Center/Health District in Miami. By the time most folks in Broward are just getting started, I've already been to Miami and back. That run takes us by the second largest concentration of medical facilities in the country, a clear contrast to the 50, where the only hospital on the route was closed years ago. Instead, there are about a dozen churches.

When I relieved the previous driver at the Northeast Transit Center one day, the bus was already loaded full, kind of unusual for lunch time. What wasn't unusual was one of the patient people waiting to board needed a courtesy ride.

On my next northbound trip, we picked up a man carrying an acoustic guitar. It's not everyday someone boards with a large musical instrument, and usually when they do it's a high school student still new to music. Whenever anyone boards with a guitar, I perk up and ask them to play for us. The younger ones are generally too shy to try, but their smiles tell me the request wasn't wasted. Occasionally the more confident musicians take me up on the proposal, and this gentleman decided to go for it once he got situated. Standing near the front since the bus was full, and leaning against the luggage storage area, he treated us to some solo twoubadou as we rolled up Dixie. When a seat opened up a few minutes later, he took his show further inside the cabin. Bravo, sir.

Long after the good vibes had dissipated, the darkness came in to balance things out as two men had a lengthy conversation about drugs, hookers, and murder. They had this discussion at a volume the whole bus could hear, no attempt at discretion.

On one trip in the middle of the shift, a familiar face on the 10 but never seen on the 50 made an appearance. It was Patty. When I pulled up to the stop, the front door was past her, but her sharp eyes spied me and in an ebullient display she waved and called out to me.
"How's my cute driver boyfriend?"
I waved back, but didn't respond.
"I'm not riding with you this time" she informed me, settled comfortably on the bench.

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