Friday, February 17, 2017

Loss of function

After our previous day on the 34, with an extremely slow bus (which for drivers is a major handicap and general bummer), it was with hope the next morning when I walked out into the bus yard to pre-trip a different one. It was from the same series and every bus reveals its own character in its own time. This one proved to be a little faster from a dead stop, but still had the single large slooow door like its sibling. The biggest glitch I could spot on this unit was a nonfunctional wheelchair ramp, which I reported. A mechanic would service it on the road, so I pulled out to head to my starting point as instructed.

The first trip was notable for its light ridership; there was no school today, and normally there'd be a standing load of students heading to Coral Springs HS. It's easy to see the differences between kids that go to school there and ones that go to Fort Lauderdale High on the 50. The former are polite, quiet, and wear designer labels. The latter are louder, rougher, and laugh a lot more. People are people and kids are young people so I don't play favorites. They all have their place, and people let you know what place you're in.

Our next trip we settled in for the morning, until we got to Turtle Creek where the mechanic was waiting to service the wheelchair ramp. He worked his magic and got it operating, but now we were running late at a crucial time when folks are trying to make the train. With a chorus of grumbling and requests to go faster behind behind me, we went as quickly as safely possible. I don't recall the status of the train.

Settled in earnest now, the trips are flying by, blending into one another. A woman named Kim took the time to come up and compliment me: "You're very pleasant, an asset to BCT."
Probably thanking her in my typical self-deprecating way, the real reason she came up became clear. She was staying in a hotel and was unfamiliar with the lay of the land. Her house had burned down the previous month. The troubles she shared got progressively worse until they reached a crescendo: she lost her husband in the house fire. The talkative sociability that started out so light got heavy fast - until it collapsed with two simple words: "I'm broken."

The woman who lost her past was replaced with a young man looking at his future, the book worm trying to get lost. Arising from his customary cross-legged pose on the sidewalk, he calmly talked about going to FAU, its social clubs, and ultimately wanting to study English so he too could write a book about getting lost. In fact, he had gotten lost a couple years before when he boarded the wrong bus at a stop shared by two routes. I said that sounded like an adventure, he said it was terrifying.

Later, a regular who works at the Panthers IceDen and boards in Pompano came up as we neared the Sportsplex at the west end. By this point we were the only ones on the bus, and I had nearly forgotten I wasn't alone. Sporting shorts and flip flops, he sneezed and I suggested he bundle up before going into the ice rink.
He paused for a moment then shared a stoic admission: "My whole day is either in uncomfortable heat or uncomfortable cold. No middle."

Just in time for the final trip from the west layover, my follower pulled in behind and parked her bus. I would give her a ride across the light to save her a few steps. She repaid me by letting me know of another glitch on this bus: a rear turn signal wasn't working.

Every machine eventually wears down. Parts stop functioning as designed, access points are inaccessible, life gets uncomfortable, or we can't signal which way we're going. Sometimes there are unseen mechanical issues that require skilled hands to be repaired. Sometimes it's just a burned out bulb.

No comments:

Post a Comment