Monday, August 14, 2017
The right sound
A summer morning went along as expected. Morning traffic made for a couple hectic trips. Francois, a regular on the 60, stopped in; he still hadn't found his lost cell phone. At Boyd Anderson High, a vigorous ackee tree shaded the bus stop and reached out over the street. At Broward College, a rider did his good deed for the day and turned in a wallet left behind by a student.
I neglected to mention a few more turns on the route. At the south end, after so many miles on the same road, we veer onto NW 19th St, then down NW 15th Ave, and east on Sunrise Blvd. For about a mile we share Sunrise with the 36 before cutting south on NW 7th Avenue on our way to Central Terminal. And on Sunrise resides a legend. A rider since the earliest days of BCT, maybe even earlier, he rolls his wheelchair slow and steady along the boulevard. He's waiting now, takes one last deep drag on his cigarette and turns his chair in preparation. As he enters backwards, the ballast lost by having one leg is more than offset by the ever-growing layers of bags hooked behind him. They now protrude enough to prevent his making a smooth turn into the bus cabin, brushing against the doors. Still, his persistence and determination see him through. The bags are wet from last night's rain and the books within are saturated. Nothing else is identifiable in the camel's hump mounding with the collections of life. Once inside, wheels stable, hands free, he removes his pass from his mouth and reaches forward to swipe it through the fare box. The box isn't happy and spits out a raspberry.
"Oooh, that's the wrong sound," he declares matter-of-factly as he reswipes and receives a positive validation. "Ah, that's the sound."
He's a little jokey this morning, and the dampness hasn't affected his dry humor.
"Turn left." His loud order comes, insincere instruction since he knows we turn right here.
'OK, if you treat us all to Miami Subs, we can go through the drive thru.' My response didn't faze him. He enjoys these bouts, his agile mind and fierce wit unhindered by his life-ravaged body. A van chose that moment to cut us off.
"Why didn't you hit him?" He delivered his calculated strike, seeking an equal response like a prize fighter in the ring with an unqualified opponent.
'I need more of a challenge than that.' My counter-motion would hopefully diffuse the verbal pummeling.
"Risk Management would pay everyone on this bus - including you - $15,000 in an accident. But it might take up to three years." His high volume suddenly involved everyone else on their morning commute.
One of them took a moment to register the new information: "Ha. Three years."
We were done turning. All roads lead to Central Terminal, and our road had ended. School bells, rustling branches, air brakes, facetious exchanges: the streets will carry the sounds of Life as long as we are there to hear them.