Friday, April 7, 2017

Staying level

Late starts are no way to start the day, especially doing the 72 on a weekday morning. It meant I wouldn't be able to get on time for a couple hours. This wasn't my regular run, I was filling in on my day off. This being the 72, one of the busiest routes in the system, the 60-footer artic was soon filled with a standing load up to the yellow line - and the sun wasn't even peeking over the horizon yet. To add to the delays, this particular bus was notorious for being sloooow. My follower caught me near the end of the first trip so I went into drop-off only mode and tried to get back on time.

During the first couple trips, passengers came up to me for assistance or socializing and their words stuck with me, piercing through the din of early-day chaos.

"It was a test and I passed it. I'm keeping positive." The Jamaican woman had missed her stop on our previous trip, and here she was again on the return trip. Not sure if she was referring to actually missing the bus stop, or what transpired at her destination.

"Water seeks its own level." An older gentleman repeating an old phrase. Again, in the tumult and blur of the moment his reference eludes me, but the words remain.

My follower caught me a second time and I was ready to chalk up this crawling bus as just about useless.

The furious squall of the morning rush subsided to a manageable pace. The crowds clamoring to get to work were replaced with the smaller number of those in pursuit of more leisurely activity, or none at all.

On my final trip I picked up two familiar faces in the east part of town. Both homeless, one is a sociable ex-Marine and the other frequently annoys passengers by begging on the bus. The Marine was chugging a beer when I pulled up, which apparently had left him broke as he turned out his empty pockets. The second rider made an effort and put a few coins in the box. I also had him promise not to bother anyone on the bus, since he has a habit of staying up front and begging everyone who boards. He promised, but it didn't last.
"Driver, you need to kick him off the bus, he's bothering everyone." The Marine was fed up with his friend's antics. We were stopped and I turned back to see what was going on with my crew.
   'I know he's not, because he promised not to, right buddy?' My tone was kind and peaceful, not upset. These two would be exiting soon enough and the annoyance was minimal, or so I thought. Shortly after my playful chide, a woman exited up front and made a point of encouraging me on her way out.
"You have the patience of a saint, sweetheart."

Water seeks its level, makes its way where it can, and adjusts to the space it's in.

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