Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Dancing in the graveyard

Occasionally on some routes that primarily travel through nicer parts of town a passenger will feel compelled to come over to me and denigrate other routes which service our more low-rent districts. When this happens I get a little confused and am unsure what they are trying to say; maybe it's because my experiences on those 'lesser' routes among the ruins has proven that's where Life is most evident.

One morning on the first piece of a 10/50 split I finished the run and while doing a post-trip walk-through, found a seat covered with broken glass, drug baggies, an unusual cutting blade, and other paraphernalia. Scary stuff to imagine a kid getting their hands on, and a sobering reminder of the darker desires of human nature. Now the 10 runs up and down Federal Highway, a major commercial corridor lined with every service and diversion known to man, generally well-kept and rapidly gentrifying in more established sections. Yet here, where the sun shines a little brighter and the palm trees grow taller, someone's inner misery compelled them to accumulate a "tool kit" to work on a slow death while their heart still beats.

A few hours later and my own heart was still heavy when the second piece on the 50 began. This is the forgotten part of Broward County, large swaths of the built environment stuck in a different era with little sign of any significant upgrades. Hookers are strutting in the usual spots, displaying slight variations in their uniforms of heels, short skirts, and tube tops designed to attract dusty day laborers with cash in hand and seeking affection.

Pineview Cemetery up at the north end of the route in Deerfield Beach seemed a fitting symbol of the state of humanity this day, so many spent bodies lined up in resignation. I'm not familiar with the cemetery's history, though the crumbling and illegible markers indicate this place has been here awhile, perhaps even older than the city itself. Images of generations of farmers, pickers, and packers naturally rise from the ground here, lives hard-worn in pursuit of survival during simpler times.

A lone bus stop is also planted in the middle of the cemetery, an outpost of Life among the rows of buried dust. As we turned onto 4th Street toward the empty stop, several young guys from the nearby automotive school were racing across the street to catch the bus. They're usually arriving there as we pull in, but today it appears they were delayed. Pulling up a little short of the stop to save them some steps, and deferential to a tilting gravestone mere inches from the street, I lowered the bus in welcome. One loads his bike on the rack, creatively painted at the auto shop in red and metallic gold. Another parks himself in a backseat, playing some instrumental hip hop on his device, rapping along smoothly enough to show promise in his skills. These kids haven't given up, their joyous expressions of life radiating in the midst of the graveyard.

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