Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Philosopher's corner

The nature of our interactions on the bus doesn't always allow for in-depth discussion, mostly just what can be squeezed in while waiting at red lights. This is for the best since that's not primarily why we're behind the wheel in the first place. The operator's function is utilitarian, assigned with the task of safely moving expensive equipment containing the priceless lives of those aboard. This immense responsibility is both head-floatingly elating (for the operator) and mind-numbingly pragmatic (for the bus company).

Amid the unremitting flow of life around us (in the forms of traffic, commerce, and habitual practicality), the quietly profound moments of Life do their thing without expectation of acknowledgment.

Passing Alegria Tacos (best in town), the owner is on the front porch on the phone. I send a message in Bus Code: a couple love taps on the horn and a finger point.

At BC North, I pick up my older neighbor lady who I usually call out "Hola amiga" to across the street. She's dragging her small self aboard this afternoon, and with a frail smile could summon only a "cansada" when I greet her.

A noticeably dirty man boarded with a hospital bracelet, requesting a free ride since he used his emergency pass on a bus going the wrong way. He blamed his disorientation on being heavily medicated.

At Oakland Park, the giggly mature woman from NY who's always doing exciting things.

A guy about my age getting a day pass, unaware the fare has gone up since he last rode the bus. His car broke down, and will cost too much to repair.

In Pompano, I bump into a former coworker from another life. He's waiting for a different route, but uses the brief moment to let me know nothing has changed at the old job - and also he got stabbed last week.
"Ya gotta have a hobby!" he joked about this latest in an endless line of calamities to befall him.

The weather has turned drizzly and miserable. By the Pompano detention center is the slowest lot of miscreants yet. Everyone's got wet bills or a handful of change or just got out of jail and needs a ride to Powerline. An old man is using both a cane and a bicycle, he could barely walk so I help load the bike on the rack. What is it about the dampness today that has brought a tsunami of human wreckage?

An older man boards with two Dostoevsky books under his arm.
   'Good reading?' I asked, always happy to see someone with a physical book. A courthouse clerk, he made me envious with his plans to attend the Dostoevsky conference in St. Petersburg (the city in Russia, not Tampa Bay). Nonchalantly going on about probing the mysteries of God and existence, he made a perplexing admission: "I was a Mason with Mozart on Solomon's temple."
The conversation moved quickly, transitioning to John Calvin, predestination, and finally retirement.
"What good has the quest ever done me? Now I'm seeking an affordable condo near an academic center where I can study to my heart's content."

Another philosophy buff boards ready to discuss Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, and Hegel. His poor personal hygiene attests to his dedication to the psyche. He soon returns to earth with frustration: his new car was stolen and it's probably chopped up or shipped overseas.

We came full circle with Alegria again at 38th St, where my friend with the punk tats waited holding a single white rose with violet tips. He took a drag from his cig and passed it to the homeless lady hanging out there. Romance and chivalry on the streets of Broward County, while philosophers try to figure it all out.

1 comment:

  1. Love your style. It's fascinating how you eloquently describe not only your interaction with the residents of your route, but give the reader a true picture of a bus driver's feelings as he guides The Beast. The incredible responsibility we have to safely transport our neighbors is compounded by the social interactions that require a gently humane touch... you give us a voice. Keep up the good work!