Thursday, February 9, 2017
See you soon
Still early, just after lunch, so things are peaceful before school lets out and rush hour begins. At the Northeast Transit Center a familiar face from my shift on the 34 the day before looks in.
"You're going north right? Oh, hey kid!" An older woman lamenting the aging process and wondering when her nest would be empty, she'd given me a tip on a good fishing spot to try out.
We're in Pompano north of Atlantic Blvd. now, where the FEC RR breaks free from the backsides of warehouses and other industrial buildings to dominate the east side of the street. The opposite side of Dixie is one dilapidated strip plaza after another, broken up by weedy fields with no hope of being developed any time soon. Up at 41st St a little old Haitian woman boards carefully with two plastic bags loaded with produce and groceries, one hanging from each hand. Even among the warehouses there's a popular farmers market. She puts one bag down to slip a dollar into the slot. That moment of interaction is my chance to ask an innocent question.
"Ooh, what are we having for dinner?! Griot? Soup joumou?" My jesting when folks board with food always has a hint of wistfulness, hoping for an invitation to join (I'll bring the bread).
"Griot!" She replied without hesitation, presumably mulling that night's menu under her white lace hair net.
A different grocery-laden elderly Haitian lady got on near the north end. My leader bus was at the layover, and I let her know he'd be leaving soon. Either she didn't understand me, or she had no melting ice cream in her bags so she didn't mind sitting 20 minutes till we pulled out. While waiting, she cobbled together a few words of English to ask for a day pass for tomorrow. Her forlorn and needy expression grew as I tactfully explained we can only issue passes for the same day.
In keeping with the pattern so far, yet another older woman at the north layover is waiting with orange rolling suitcase in tow. A familiar face, she's getting ready for a trip and wanted some distinctive luggage. Perusing a 50 schedule, she was unaware of the recent service improvements and seemed a bit confused. After getting clear about the new times, she made sure to invite me to the 2 Georges in The Cove on a Friday when it's packed with single women. Matchmakers may be getting rare these days, but they still try to hook up bus drivers.
We pulled out, and when the forlorn Haitian lady exited a couple miles later she still thanked me.
"Ok mama, à bientôt."
She repeated my farewell with a toothless smile.
At 10th St, a young man in white pants covered with emoticons walked on, slipped a fiver in the box, and walked back to a seat in one fluid motion.
"Hey buddy!" I called out, holding the day pass his fare had just bought.
"Naw, I don't need it," Mr. Emoticon nonchalantly called back.
At Prospect Rd, an irregular regular. This is still another older lady with short gray hair and an umbrella. I say irregular because she only boards my bus when something is going on with my leader; by taking my bus there's a 50/50 chance she'll make it to Central Terminal in time to make her connecting bus. A few minutes out from the terminal, and the railroad crossing arms come down at the most inopportune time. She made her connection anyway, and I was her hero.
Our next trip north and here's my friend who works at the animal hospital. News about their multi-million dollar equipment upgrade follows fascinating descriptions of radiating a hawk's wing, and a cat flown in from the Bahamas by charter jet.
Before Commercial Blvd., I heard a series of sharp whistles clear and loud. A bald man in sunglasses had made the alert and I just had to wait for anyone who could make such an impressive sound.
"Nice whistles, they paid off." I complimented him as he boarded.
"Especially when you got kids! A couple whistles, they stop in their tracks and know Dad caught 'em."
Uncharacteristic for the 50, every northbound trip has heavy ridership all the way to the Northeast Transit Center. The southbound trips are notable for unusual obstacles: a broken-down bulldozer being worked on, a disabled school bus with its triangles out, and two cars blocking the right lane (with a guy holding a red gas can up to the rear car).
Back up in Pompano, approaching Copans, a brunette in strapless blouse is hustling her area. The fashion choice of this wayward daughter exposes a chest covered with scabby sores.
On the flip side of Copans going the other way another brunette boards, not much younger than her streetwise sister but fresh-faced and business casual in a red polo embroidered with a daycare logo.
"How were the kiddies today?" She looks tired after a long day, so it probably wasn't the best question to ask at that moment. (My apologies for the untimely reminder.)
"Super! That's why I can't wait to get home." The facetious tone said one thing, though the subconscious smile belied an affection for her little ones.