Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Up and over
One of the most vexing parts of the 10 earlier this year was during a protracted period of utility work beneath Sunrise Blvd. The half-mile stretch shared with US 1 presented a daily time-eater at the worst time of the day, late afternoon. Lanes would be closed down to two or even one, paralyzing traffic that is regularly congested even when all lanes are open. The passengers and I would often wonder why this work couldn't be done in the overnight hours. Never did find out.
Eventually we emerged from the downtown stranglehold and were bookin' it uptown. At his usual stop stood the hunched figure of the Weatherman, and I was counting on him for a moment of levity after the exasperating futility earlier.
"Hey, there he is! The Weatherman! What's the forecast today?" This has become my way of greeting him and getting him to open his bag of jokes.
"What did Mr. Light bulb say to Mrs. Light bulb? Baby, you light up my life!" The corny jokes began coming rapid fire, built up since our last ride. There are times when the simple jokes are best, no in-depth analysis needed. On top of it, he stood up front and his voice projected loud enough that the rest of the bus could hear his contagious humor. Suddenly his tone changed, he edged in closer to me and lowered the volume.
"What did the hurricane say to the coconut tree? Hold onto your nuts, you're in for a big blow!" This triggered a guffaw and return to the loud volume.
"You're a bad man!" I replied with mock judgment, which only encouraged him to continue laughing, right off the bus.
Shortly after dropping him off, we passed the Publix plaza north of 24th St in Pompano. Normally it's one of those nondescript places you don't notice unless you're looking for it. Today something caught my eye: the fountain near the street was frothing and foaming as if someone had dumped a bucket of soap in it. The masses of suds were drifting along the ground into the street, lighter bits breaking away and going airborne. If only all things that came at the bus were so benign.
Somewhere on a northbound trip a cyclist who only rode a short while stayed up front, hanging onto an upright stanchion. Guess he didn't want to get too comfortable and miss his stop, but he also had a pensive stare into the distance.
"Imagine what this place is gonna look like in 10 years, it's all gonna be underwater." It was a different take on weather small talk, decidedly more long range.
"Hmm, we'll probably build on stilts, or abandon the lower floors of buildings, or build a wall at the beach to block the sea." I worked on proposing solutions to his dire statement, trying to spin it in a more positive, hopeful direction. My contrary nature just couldn't accept defeat so readily.
Up at Commercial, a homeless regular was ambling among the waiting cars, working the last throngs of the day for handouts to get him through the night. He spotted me and grew a grin as he approached my open window.
"Why are you on my bus?" His light-hearted inquiry expressed a level of comfortable familiarity.
"I'm borrowing it." The familiarity went both ways.
At that, he flipped his ratty cardboard sign with generic marker scribbles asking for help to show me the opposite side: Trees & beer 4:20.
"You working till 11?" he asked, presumably letting on when he would be heading back downtown.
I shrugged, not letting on either way as the light turned green.