Monday, February 27, 2017

Did it myself

Greatness can be found everywhere around us. It can be found in the unlikeliest of places, wherever human hearts beat. Like that soft, quiet beat of life, it doesn't always announce itself with loud volume. It doesn't require a lofty platform or a gold setting; sometimes a gem of great value is hiding in the dust.

The dusty, pulsing vein of State Road 7 was our setting this day. Muhammad Ali, the World's Greatest, had died the day before in the unrelenting Purge of Giants 2016. At Commercial Blvd, a young man in his 20s boarded, immediately distinctive by a designed splash of red dye in his short beard. Although it is something I'd be unlikely to do on myself these days, I can still appreciate those who get creative with their hair, a temporary expression of that individual.
"Does someone do that for you?" I inquired, complimenting by way of curiosity.
"I did it myself. I'm a stylist." His matter of fact response carried a hint of indignation at the suggestion of anyone else having created this work of art.

Just a couple miles down the road, a semi-familiar older face appeared. Using a guide stick to compensate for his partial blindness, he was heading out to start his day with a cup of coffee.
"I'm walking out on faith today." He spoke the words with intrepid humility, as if to proclaim his defiance against taking the easy way out and giving in to ennui. A person's manner makes an impression on those they meet, and his manner eliminated the vague familiarity upon first seeing him and now I remembered him from some time before. Part of the disconnect was due to the empty space at his side previously occupied by his loyal guide dog, a well-trained golden retriever.
"Where's your furry friend?" I asked.
"Oh, I'm retiring him. A state marshal is adopting him." As he explained lifestyle differences between himself and the dog's new master, it was clear that he wanted the animal to have the best life possible.
"So what's goin' on today, you got an exciting day planned?" I probed, both to change the subject and wondering about happenings in the neighborhood.
"Nothing exciting, I lead a boring life, I don't go to bars... You like coffee?" We'd arrived at his stop and he was going to get me a cup on his way back.
"Nah, I'm not a coffee guy, but thanks for the offer!"
"I'll drink one to you!"

It was now mid-morning, at that certain time when the sun casts its first intense beams across the earth. The light itself broils anything in its path with a golden ferocity, until that hour passes and the sun rises higher above the horizon. Another young man with short hair who'd boarded at Turtle Creek made his way up to the front the way folks do to see where they are.
"Hot as shit out there." His weather report was bleak and resigned.
"Cookin', that's how we do it in Broward County." We know what we're dealing with at this latitude, and things go a lot smoother when we don't fight Mother Nature.
"I don't wanna get off, but I need the next stop."
"Prepare yourself."
"Prepare for the heat." The pep talk had helped as evidenced by his growing smile and energetic exit.

Two Haitian ladies are conversing near the front, dulcet feminine voices, a duet of soft syllables in kreyĆ²l.

We serviced the stop at Our Lady Queen of Heaven church, where an animated older woman waited near the curb. She'd been interacting with the other passengers there, and included me in her protestations as she boarded.
"They're having a funeral over there," she informed me, pointing in the direction of the neighboring cemetery (which happens to be the resting place for the remains of our own World's Greatest). "Chickens and cows die every day of their lives."
"Muhammad Ali just died." I injected the current event that coincided with her morbid theme.
"They're slaughtered every..." she continued her mission to raise awareness about the unpleasant side of our food sources.
Our next trip by there on the flip side brought with it yet another funeral procession fronted by a police escort, a flashing-light reminder in the middle of the route that there is an end of the road. In between we'll express, explore, expect, and do what we can while we're here.

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