Friday, February 3, 2017

The pinnacle

Last summer, one sunny Saturday morning on the 19. The first trip was always the busiest, filling the extra-long artic with folks heading off to work. There is a certain delight in being there as the city wakes, and the machine of human movement gears up. This was still the weekend however, and the mad rush would level off for the rest of my shift once we got to Lauderhill Mall. That is, on a regular Saturday. This day my leader was still in the 19 slot at The Hill when we arrived; his bus had broken down, it's back skirt flung up, and a mechanic already tinkering on the engine. My first standing load was replaced with another and the casual observer would be forgiven for thinking this was a regular week day on the ever-popular 19. Shortly after pull-out, I heard him get radio instructions to start way up the road. The bus was gonna be busy on this trip.

We finished the trip behind schedule but just in time for the next trip south, and things got back to normal. That meant a steady pace of 30 mph lest we run hot. It was now mid-morning and Saturday service is more frequent than weekdays since the Breeze isn't running to share the passengers, but I still take pride in keeping to the schedule. With so many connections along the route, I try to do my part in the system.

On this trip one of my fellow bus operators boarded with his young son, out doing errands. Other than passing each other at the garage, bus time is one of the best times for drivers to socialize. He stood up front and we talked shop. I'd been calling out stops all morning since the automatic announcer wasn't working, and saw no reason to stop just because he was there. The laughter this provoked was a reminder that not all drivers like to call out stops. For me, it is yet another delight to call out familiar streets and let everyone know where we are.

At Oakland Park, I helped a middle-age man put his bike on the rack. He had a mountain of totes and bags to load, so it was more to speed up the process and get moving again. At the end of the line, he remembered to take all his stuff off the bus, but forgot to take his bike; it would stay on the rack the rest of this shift.

In Margate, a young lady with contagious smile boarded, her soft and bright yellow blouse complementing the sunny day. Always with a cheery disposition, catchy tunes play low on her device.

Back at Lauderhill, a woman in her Sunday best came up to me as I exited the bus to stretch. She and some others were taking a break from church service to pass out reading material and invite folks to their Seventh Day Adventist meeting nearby.
"See the pinnacle over there?" she invited by way of a question, pointing to the modest steeple.

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