Thursday, May 4, 2017

The sun stood still

An afternoon/evening shift on Route 60, the most brutal time of day to work that route. I wasn't supposed to be here, it was my regular day off and seemed like a good idea to get some extra work. Besides, I love the 60 through and through despite it being a high-maintenance relationship sometimes. In between requests from passengers to let them know when we got to the DMV, Sunrise Blvd, or Blount Rd, we had to contend with ever-growing traffic on ever-narrowing Andrews Ave. Lane closures at Prospect Rd dealt a devastating blow to any semblance of schedule-keeping. One lane at rush hour? Bad 60!

The grind was briefly diminished when a regular from the 50 appeared, with his signature big floppy hat and winning attitude. A sign waver when I saw him in action, he's a fixture on Dixie Highway near the Pompano transit center. We were probably pushing 10 minutes down, not bad considering, but he took it in stride as usual without a hint of malice or resentment.

Several hours into the marathon and we were in the thick of it. The frenetic activity of late afternoon came at us from all directions, conspiring to put the brakes on our forward motion. Then she was before us. A broken silhouette between the two large circles of her wheelchair, waiting patiently in Collier City. The angled shadows cast by the setting sun were focused on her, and now so were we. The impulse to rush came to a sighing halt as all due care was lavished on one who truly was dealt a lasting blow. Down kneeled the bus, up and out flipped the ramp, creating a bridge for her to rest her arms and be carried at least some of her journey. Fresh bandages wrapped the rounded end of what used to be an intact leg. She lined her wheels up at the base of the ramp, and paused.
"I'm sort of new at this, so..." she explained with endearing vulnerability, fixing her eyes on the challenge before her as she tentatively wheeled herself on board. I offered to attach the securing straps to her chair, and she blessed me by accepting.

The episode delayed us even more, yet curiously our time deficit soon shrank and was no longer an issue.

After that, I picked up an infrequent regular who is frequently anxious to get to his destination. This time he was relaxed about it, perhaps because the day was done and he was on his own time. Usually sociable while on my bus, today he was quiet and reserved. Apparently he was reading the Bible, since another man inquired, "What the Scripture today?"
His answer was a measured retelling of a passage in Joshua about the day the sun stood still.

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