Friday, October 28, 2016

At business

"Do I have to get off, or can I ride around with you all day?" she asked as she exited at Sawgrass Mills. It was a sweet way to say bye and made me more aware of the good trip we'd just had along with several other riders. The mood was relaxed and bright, then again sunny Saturday mornings have a way of being like that. The previous trip had featured a low rising sun that made the blacktop glow like gold - that glow continued inside the bus.

At the mall, I took a quick break and headed back to the bus. A wide-eyed young man waited at the bus stop, awkwardly focused on me, looking for a cue that it was ok to board.
"Are we at business?" At first I wasn't sure what he'd said, there was an unfamiliar accent that prevented me from recognizing some key syllables. I strained my ear toward him, closed my eyes, and he repeated the phrase several more times until I finally got it. Unfortunately even then it didn't make sense to me. Was he asking about a particular business in the mall? Perhaps a clue would decipher the riddle.
"I've never heard that before. Where are you from?"
"Here," came the simple answer, explaining nothing if not adding more mystery to the situation. "My dad says it all the time."
That was the clue I needed. It occurred to me that his father was fond of a variation on the "Now we're in business" expression. I explained the difference to this young fella who by then must have wondered at the denseness of bus drivers and let him know that yes, we were in business. The rest of that day I found myself using the catchy line.

Not too long into the trip, an older man boarded and proceeded to feed coins into the box. One coin was rejected and dropped in the coin cup. He repeatedly inserted the coin, with the same result.
"Must be a foreign coin. The farebox knows, don't worry about it." I assured him it was ok to have a seat.
He laughed and in a crystal clear Jamaican accent exclaimed "It's like a blind woman who knows what bill she's holding!"

"Nice crystal." A man and his lady boarded and I had to comment on the large stone held to his necklace by a green thread. Very DIY. He perked up at the compliment and described how the dark-colored quartz with flecks of garnet absorbs negative energy. That can't be a bad thing. The education continued as he let us know light-colored ones send out positive energy. We need more of that.

Nearing the halfway point of our trip, a regular older gentleman boards. Usually toting a cue stick case on his way to the pool hall, today he's empty-handed. He mentions the Brazilian pool sharks who always win the top two slots, leaving everyone else to play for third.
"How do you beat guys like that?" I threw out there, grasping for tips.
"Hide the ball." The answer was short, direct, and sounded resigned to 3rd place.

At the east end somewhere around US 1 one of our homeless crew, bone thin and emitting strong alcohol fumes swayed at the open door, mouth open but silent. Two friends came from behind to prop him up and ask for a ride to the beach where they could use the showers to wash up. No problem, just a short ride. I made sure they were seated and steady before moving forward.
"We're gonna clean ya up, you're gonna look like a new man! The cops won't even know who you are, you're gonna look so good!" His friend encouraged him as we rolled on.
"Like a movie star" came the next line, not sure if it was the other friend or the man of the hour himself.

Ambition, curiosity, excitement, and competition come in all flavors. Now we're in business...

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