the 50. Virtually the entire length of the route is a trip on Dixie Highway and its baked in layers of life. Since the last round of service improvements it now runs like a dream with far less bus-bunching than before. And with extra recovery time at the layovers, the more senior drivers understandably snatch the runs for themselves. Most drivers seem to steer clear of picking it due to an undeserved reputation as an unpleasant route. For those of us who feel at home among the persevering strugglers, the rumble of the railroad, and a built environment that fits like an old shoe this is the place to be.
The waxing moon would be full tomorrow, a signal to be extra aware and patient. Not all full moons create the same effect on people, but the relation between our closest cosmic neighbor and bizarre behavior is too frequent to chalk up to coincidence.
An ominous dust storm billowing from the vicinity of a concrete plant and inconvenient lane closures would be the least of our encounters today. Strange trade winds were blowing.
"Prince just died," the cyclist announced by way of greeting as he boarded, eyes glued to his device screen.
"Who, the musician?" I responded after a moment's hesitation, at first thinking of British royalty.
"3 minutes ago."
It was a bit stunning, after David Bowie's death three months earlier. We lost a number of creative giants in 2016.
Up around Copans a variety of streetwalkers are loitering in skimpy fashions and garish colors to draw attention while also distracting from their vapid, lost stares.
At Five Points a long train is preventing cars from turning, and keeping us stuck at the light through a couple cycles. It's frustrating to have a green light so close yet so far away. A gentle reminder to be patient. The train was here first and takes priority.
The moving yet immovable obstacle and its mindful reminder was timely as not long after we approached a stop and were met by a 20-something young man with a distinctive style. An eccentric hipster clad with gloved right hand and top hat he limped forward with the support of a wooden survey stake, complete with two colors of streamers.
"Whoa, whoa, what's that?" I asked, pointing at his makeshift cane to determine whether it was safe.
"I sprained my ankle. It's not been a good day."
"Hang in there, man, it's not the end of the world." I consoled him as he put his fare in the box.
The encouragement seemed to work as he piped up with some R.E.M.:
"'It's the end of the world as we know it...' I love the oldies. Remember that? What's wrong with music today?"
"Not a fan of Katy Perry I take it."
Pause. Head shake. "Blah wa wa."
He sat down and tried out some bad Creole with some Haitian guys, and got no response.
As he put on his show, an older woman came up front for the next stop.
"Tonight's a full moon you know." Perhaps she was trying to explain the man of the hour.
"I know. I was just waiting for it to start. There it is." I agreed in low volume for her ears only. Her volume had not been so discreet, a passive-aggressive insult he quickly latched onto.
"You ain't seen nothin' yet!," he announced.
"Honey, I've seen it all."
"Wanna bet," he slyly replied, tossing in some playful kissing sounds.
She exited and wished me a good day.
Our showman stayed on a bit longer as we passed through another dust storm, this time from the Eastside Village construction site. When his time came to depart, he looked back over his shoulder and made a prophetic promise:
"Remember, it's a full moon. I may be the first, but I won't be your last."
As it turned out, he was the last that day. The shift ended predictably enough with the Rhymer on our last trip.
"Whatcha gonna do, Lou?," he asked in a way that didn't require an answer. I gave him one anyway.
"Shake a leg, Greg."