Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Annum Recognition: 2
Still unrisen, the full moon was tugging on everyone's psyches, enhancing and exaggerating what they were feeling. A Sunday on the 36 generally carries a sense of easiness and patience, so that was a mitigating plus as things heated up.
I took over the bus at Lauderhill Mall from the morning driver, ready for a sedate afternoon on Sunrise Boulevard. Preparing to pull out, a slow elderly woman with a walker from the connecting 19 bus did her best to hold us there. We couldn't leave this grandmother sitting around for another half hour, so out came the ramp and she hobbled aboard.
Our first stop on Sunrise, two young guys boarded and stayed up front in the filled cabin. They were non-stop talkers, communicating in curse code.
"Bro. Bro." One of them repeated the same word several times, and I assumed it was for the other. It was actually for me, as it turned out when he finally said "Excuse me, sir" and I responded.
"Hey bro, you got any more of these?" flashing a day pass at me. It doesn't hurt to ask, even when it doesn't pay off.
In the parking lot at Dale's Wheels & Tires near Andrews Ave, it's a back to school party crammed with music, dancing, BBQ, bounce house, and free backpacks.
"I smell like a camp fire, don't I?" The older man asked by way of greeting. At first I hadn't noticed, then it was unmistakable. This was further east by Victoria Park and he was doing a BBQ of his own, with oak firewood donated by Red Cow, though he's partial to cherry.
As we serviced the Powerline Rd stop, a teen boy in yellow Parks & Rec shirt wandered up front, looking intently past me through my driver's window, as if checking to see if this was his stop.
"Can I just give the rest of this change to that guy?" he pointed out a disheveled man panhandling in the median. We had a minute, the light was red, the door was open, off he darted to bestow a blessing on this stranger.
Nearing Sawgrass Mills Mall, my leader bus was getting worked on by the mechanic on 136th Avenue. This was a Sunday with reduced service, so a downed bus will affect service more than it would on a weekday. The mall itself was full and overflowing, to the point where the parking lot is at capacity and cars are parked in the swales of the feeder streets. I was ready to pull out of there when the mechanic pulled right in front of me to look at another downed bus waiting at the mall. His service truck blocked me, but only delayed us briefly when he determined that bus needed to be towed. He's a magician most of the time, but some things aren't in his bag of tricks.
This new trip was getting busy, lots of riders before Pine Island, a definite indicator it had been awhile since those stops were serviced. At University, a sour-faced man boarded complaining about having to wait an hour. I could have explained the broken down bus before mine, but I kept it simple.
'Siento.' I apologized when he took a pause to breathe.
"Gracias." His ranting was over, now he was ready to continue.
We serviced Lauderhill Mall and pulled up to 12th St before turning left. A police car parked in the street directly in front of us blocked the right lane, forcing the steady traffic into one lane on this busy side street. the delay was frustrating for us, but helped out someone as I heard some yelling followed by a young man pulling up to us on his bike. We hadn't actually left the Hill yet, so he loaded his bike. He boarded dripping sweat like a spigot from the effort to make the bus, as well as toting two large bags of groceries. Profusely thankful for my holding the bus for him, he slid in his fare with a "Thank you, brotha!"
'We wouldn't just leave you like that!'
"I know who my brothers are..."
A big event at Carter Park (formerly Sunland Park) was still going on into the evening and looked like fun as we cruised by. We flipped around at the beach and hit the weekly wall of traffic which I hoped to avoid on these Sunday shifts.
10th Ave has my friend in the motorized wheelchair waiting. He can't move much, but he knows how to work the joystick so he's as nimble as anyone else. Once he's facing backwards, I guide him on.
'Nice and easy, you got it. Like a pro!'
"Hey, how you doin'? I don't need securements."
Father & Sons Smoke Til U Choke BBQ was wafting its mouth-watering aroma onto Sunrise as we approached Martin Luther King Blvd. The cricket tournament that began the day before at Central Regional Park had another busy day of matches. Attendees crowded all over the area after parking at the Hill, blocking the intersections.
It was finally time for our last trip of the day, an easy eastbound journey ending at A1A. The full moon was now risen, and tides were rising. On all the previous trips, those outside the bus had been careful and aware of their proximity to it. Now they had death wishes. At four different points along the way, there were young people leisurely strolling across the street, a young man on bicycle wearing earbuds and racing toward the bus at full hilt forcing me to come to a complete stop, a group of boys on bikes riding northbound in the southbound lanes of State Road 7, and two elderly women with rolling luggage and walker wandering aimlessly in the maze-like intersection at US 1.
In the midst of the madness, Miss Ketteline from Fridays boarded. She pointed out the full moon and swore she wouldn't watch the solar eclipse. We approached Sunset Strip, where Miss Anderson patiently waited.
'Hey! There she is!' I clap my hands, impressed she has made it this time after several missed attempts.
"Today's my birthday, so I'm idlin'!" Her face lights up with a wonderful smile, Ketteline starts singing "happy birthday to you...", and the moon works its magic after the sun sets on Sunrise.
The new pick is underway! I'll still be with my peeps on the 36 every Sunday. The exciting news this time around is I'm coming back home to the 60 and 14. Also one night a week on the 34.