Thursday, June 23, 2016


Back in March there was a little blip of a holiday called Transit Driver Appreciation Day. It seems to be a promotion to remind passengers of the hard work their bus operators (and other modes of transit) perform on a daily basis. We should never need a special day to thank those who impact our lives for the better, but sometimes a reminder helps. Hopefully every day I'm out there my passengers see how much I appreciate them for being there. Without you, I wouldn't be here.

And what better route to do on that nascent 'holiday' than the 50. As soon as I got in the seat to relieve the morning driver, I heard a voice.
"Let's go."
So often our tone makes the difference, and the tone I was hearing sounded like an order. I turned to see my taskmaster and was presented with a young guy with empty eyes. It wasn't time to pull out yet so we weren't going anywhere, but I engaged him to see what the hurry was about.
"Let's go, huh? We going somewhere exciting? Deerfield? Boca? Big party today?" I asked as I set my mirrors and adjusted the seat.
"Look at that guy wearin' the same clothes every day!" he pointed out a homeless man relaxing on a nearby bench.
"Well, we could give him a shirt and fix that problem. It's tough times out here, man" was my immediate reply to take the onus off an innocent bystander as we rolled out.
It didn't take long to see this was a passenger who doesn't see the bus as mass transit, but rather as his personal taxi service. As we approached stops with waiting people, he demanded I keep going if he determined they weren't interested in boarding. He wasn't wearing earbuds, but randomly threw out rap lines of standard profanity along with a repetitive favorite: "Rollin' up on ya."
Although his attitude made for an unpleasant trip, it was basically harmless and actually inspired me in a backwards way. Maybe it's my contrary nature, but it compelled me to treat those 'uninterested' people just a little nicer and make sure I had a steady supply of patience and appreciation.

On our next northbound, a young lady was exiting and asked if she could buy a 7 day pass "on the boose" with a cute accent. As we headed north the sunny sky gave way to gray overcast.

Further up at the NETC, a familiar older latina was waiting, and she had a new accessory.
"Oh no, amiga, are you ok?" I asked as she limped on with a cane. Previously, she had been quite spry and mobile.
"You know a car hit me on Sample, right? I was trying to catch the 34."
"What?! You gotta be careful out there, there's a lot of crazy drivers."
For a brief moment awhile back she had a puppy which met an untimely end. Pets are always good conversation and I wanted to take her mind off her injury.
"Are you getting another dog soon?"
"No, I want to get a man - that will be my dog," she flatly replied with a sweet voice.
"Ha! There are plenty out there," I encouraged her.
"No. There's not." Another tone this time: resignation. I probably offered up some platitude about giving up too easy, but words of comfort fall short at times like that. All I can do is empathize and show my appreciation.

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