Tuesday, July 18, 2017

We get around

One early evening on the 60, filling in an empty slot for a few hours, waiting to pull out for my final trip of the day. Two minutes before pull out, a man pulled up in front of the bus on his bike, brakes squealing, he panting heavily from his successful bus catch. The heat of the day was still lingering, leaving sweat splotches on his t-shirt with Marines logo to match his ball cap. Though his bike wheels were still, he was still racing and ready to talk. His temperature was cooking and his day had started in that vein. He'd awoken to a house filled with smoke and a chicken burning in the oven. The connection between the charred poultry and his living on his friend's sofa next to a 56" flat screen can only be assumed, since the story was interrupted by nature's call. In his haste to make the bus, he hadn't made time to relieve himself, and now he was at capacity. Miles short of his destination, he opted to exit early and make use of the facilities of a nearby diner. The urgency stoked a memory of one 2-minute stream of relief, which he claimed for all to hear. I congratulated him and said it must be a Guinness Record.

Turning off Atlantic for our last trip through Collier City, an infrequent regular was waiting. Quiet and reserved, he always has some insight about the world around us. In true Socratic fashion, I can't recall him ever claiming to have the answer, but tries to find it through questions.
"You ever look at all these people and wonder where they're going? All the places they're going?" He asked the air when we'd become enveloped in a mass of congestion.
   'Yeah, but it gets overwhelming.' I finally said, knowing it was a short answer for a longer discussion.

A middle age man with a sleepy eye boarded, clearly despondent after another long day of futility.
"Wish I had your job." He pined.
   'Be careful what you wish for.' My admonishment was as much for my own benefit as his, a reminder that things are not as simple as they appear.
"You have job security. People will always need to get around."
Of course, he was right and there could be no arguing that fact. He wasn't saying it was easy, only pointing out the community's need for the service transit provides. It forced me to pause and recognize that just maybe it was greener on this side, in this way. The garden requires mindful tending lest the weeds take over, and with proper care will bear fruit in season.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

100 posts of gratitude

Street by street, block by block, stop by stop we reach another milestone. One hundred posts containing even more numerous stories within. Our stories, illuminating the brief moments we share together - and yet all the world is there in the experience. Stretching out to undiscovered stars, then contracting down to a water droplet, ours is the stuff of Life. Thank you for being here, let's continue the journey.


An afternoon shift on the 36 had come and gone routinely, in its own colorful way. Regulars like Chuck with his mesmerizing art bike, the Hungarian man in his hard-gotten wheelchair, and a familiar older gentleman who tends to go the extra mile with politeness in a most impolite environment were bright spots smoothing the way through standard obstacles like the perpetual box-blocking line of concert-goers trailing out of the Swap Shop.

We pulled into The Hill with a couple minutes to burn on our final trip toward A1A. I stayed in the seat, still facing forward while the flow of exits and entries were a blur of final connections. In my periphery, the blur came to a standstill, at least partly, and I looked over to see what was stanching the flow. A woman stood at the door, her knowing smile glowing in the new night. Her wide eyes of joy as she held her face with both hands and stared at me made it clear she was waiting for acknowledgment.
   'Wow!' Was all I could say when I realized it was our own incomparable Sunshine, resurfaced after so many months apart.
"Wow is right!" She replied with a lithe entrance, well-formed dreads framing a distinguished face.

No sooner were we out of the terminal when a young Haitian man began complaining aloud of the bus being too cold. The sun had settled and the a/c was no longer struggling against the summer heat. Our fearless friend took it upon herself to be positively contrary.
"This is delightful! You could take your clothes off in this. I could get naked!" She spun her suggestive magic.
"Where are you from?" The doubtful young man had to know.
"The islands, but I've also lived in England and New York." Her time in those cold locales certainly qualified her.

Nearing her exit, I could see her rise in the mirror-image reflection of the windshield. She held on to a stanchion as we slowed. An old, grizzled man sat nearby, drunk and slouched in his seat. She turned to him, moved closer into his personal space as only she could.
"Everything's irie. It's ok." Her kindness brought a weak smile out of his sagging cheeks. "God loves you, but you also have to love yourself."

We came to a stop, but she wasn't finished with everyone on the bus. She came in close to me and rested her hand on my shoulder. I covered it with my own as she stated, "I love you!" at a strong volume, with sweet authority, and no emphasis on any individual word.
Embarrassed that everyone was witnessing this unexpected display, I responded with my usual 'Thank you for bringing the sunshine!'
An anxious man standing beside us brought the moment to an end with an entreaty to get moving lest he miss his next connection. He made his connection that night, and so did the rest of us.