Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Better days

The sun was trying to rise on a dewy warm morning, its anticipated intense rays muted by heavy cloud cover. Yellow and pink bursts of luminous watercolor radiated through fissures in the dense atmosphere. Ibis perched atop towering light poles unsure if it was time to begin the daily search for sustenance, their instincts on pause.

We were well underway, gliding down University Drive on one of those lazy summery Saturday dawns when the world is quiet and few are in a hurry. The north half of the county was behind us, the West Terminal was serviced, and a familiar silhouette separated from the bus stop shelter as we approached Stirling Road. He was a young man with an old soul, a common condition leading to confusion and despair. Its negative effects can lead to paralysis of initiative. After several weeks of gloomy expressions, today the light was on.
   'Ready for another exciting Saturday?' My rhetorical greeting is a mixture of curiosity, encouragement, and personal pep talk.
"Better days, man. It's better days." His bright response lit up the bus, spurring us onward on our journey.
   'That's awesome, you're on a mission! I like that.'
His smile smoothed away the wrinkles of worry and he was suddenly his age again.

The pedestrian bridge over University at Miramar Parkway with an especially steep ramp was in full use that morning. No pedestrians however, just a crossfit group using it as their private gym, huffing up the incline with weights and other forms of resistance.

In Coral Springs an infrequent rider with striking features loaded her bike on the rack backwards. As a courtesy I pointed it out to her, she said she'd watch it - and stayed up front to do so.

In Tamarac a young man with reptilian facial tattoo boarded, earbuds deafening my greeting.

At the stop on the curve just north of Oakland Park Blvd, a small girl sat alone, no visible sign of a chaperone. She was just a toddler, and it was disturbing to see her beside a major street unattended. Someone pulled the cord to request the stop, and as we pulled over an older woman who was hiding behind the shelter emerged. Grandma was smiling as the little one ran to greet mommy exiting the bus, soon hand in hand walking home.

A fixture on University, Douglas stopped in for a short trip. Talky in the NYC tradition, where one topic turns into another and still another, he reminisced about traveling to Switzerland as a teenager when his father worked for an airline. This somehow transitioned to visiting Google Sky to see the stars, asking if I was a Christian, and announcing he was heading to Broward Mall to do surveys.

Hours later, the crossfit crew were still at it, taking advantage of the overcast to work up a sweat. Up and down the concrete hill like Sisyphus, their efforts were not futile. I occasionally hear other operators lament that our service is pointless, since we don't produce anything of value. The results aren't always apparent and sometimes things look bleak. As you toil up and down our avenues and boulevards, please know that carrying people, making connections, looking out for each other, and moving a county are worthwhile endeavors. Your service is priceless.

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