441 Breeze is generally a rough-n-ready roller coaster ride up and down State Road 7, there have been days when it runs like a lazy cat slinking its way between napping spots. Mornings are the best time for this most unconventional limited-stop route to resemble a regular local-stop route, whereas afternoons are a frenetic blur of traffic and full bus capacity.
My morning run on the Breeze started at Turtle Creek in the early a.m., just before the rush hour crush was getting warmed up. This stop is popular with patrons and workers of the Seminole Casino across the street, an ever-growing glittery complex built on desperate dreams. I snuggled the 60-foot artic beside the curb and popped the brakes to wait for our departure time. The head sign is set to change automatically at the prescribed time, so passengers are often inquisitive when it only reads NOT IN SERVICE.
"Are you in service?" Asked a full-bellied man who emerged from the shadows when I swung open the doors.
'We sure are! How's it going this morning?'
"I had a bad morning. I lost $220 at the casino, after getting up to $465."
'So you didn't come out ahead?'
"No, I got cleaned out. How am I gonna get to Vegas now?"
'It's another day.'
"It's gonna be a rough month."
'There's always next month.'
"Yeah." Stunned and dejected, he took his seat as I stepped off. The bus was an island of light in the dark morn, and this unsettled gentleman seemed to appreciate the solace he found there in the midst of his own darkness.
Traffic was noticeably not an issue this morning, a welcome break from the standard onslaught. Red lights were making us run a little late this time, since we'd arrived in that domino effect where every light turned yellow as we approached. An early drizzle slicked the streets, then the sun dried them off.
Heading south, the enormous yet tedious roadway expansion project in Hollywood creates a transitional segment, where the scenery and environment steadily decline and deteriorate into a melange of aging strip malls and decades of built up grime. Around 177th St, in the midst of that hell of steaming streets and struggle comes a simple blessing: the wafting scent of baking sweet bread. It is a farewell kiss as tangible as Golden Glades, the labyrinth of asphalt ribbons we entered soon after.
Laying over at the Golden Glades Park and Ride, I was met by a sociable man in a cream-colored dashiki of fine stitching. A djembe drummer from Senegal, he showed me a video of himself performing a concert. As an aside, he proudly let me know he was a cousin of the singer Akon. Now he was in town to give drumming lessons at a school in Lauderhill, and requested my assistance to find the right street. The fierce rhythm of his music made an impression, and it kept me company as our wheels carried us through the threads of a million lives, the greatest concert of all.