Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Good medicine

In between ridiculous crawling traffic and frustrating red lights are the little moments that make one take pause. If you blink, you'll miss 'em.

A morning run on the 60, rumbling over the ruts leading out of downtown. My regular with the strobing headlamp at the Lighthouse for the Blind stop wasn't there, leaving a dark void as we crested the FEC RR. It may be darker than the bottom of the ocean out here, but this first bus of the day is a popular one. We've got a seated load by the time we get to Prospect, with a few standers. The earliness means few cars on the road and we make good time all the way. At Dunkin' Donuts it becomes clear the ladies behind the counter know me well, preparing my breakfast by heart.

Back in service, and now the city is waking up. If we don't have moving obstacles, we have stifling congestion. The Jamaican regular who navigates the mountains of rock at Matco hops on, ever cool in sunglasses. I ask him what he works with over there. "What do I work with? Locomotives, pushin' those cars around." Now he's Superman to me, moving the earth.

We're pushin' 10 minutes down by the time we exit Cypress Creek Tri-Rail Park & Ride, a notorious time-eater. Climbing the I-95 overpass gives us a clear view of the commuting chaos on the highway, and I count my blessings to be running late on old Andrews Avenue. Folks are rushing to get to work so I can't help feel a little bad being late to pick up my next regular. For some time I'd been calling him Amigo, thinking he was Hispanic. When he boarded with a smiling "Bom dia!" in Brazilian Portuguese it froze me to my seat.

Things thawed out quickly and we made it to Central Terminal with a couple minutes to spare. My friend who works at Catfish Dewey's was waiting to head up there and do his thing in the kitchen. Now we were in the thick of it, flowing with the heavy, slow traffic all the way to Northeast transit center.

Not everyone heads to work in the morning. At Commercial a woman with a bicycle was awaiting our pull up.
"Is there any way I can ride to the clinic to get my medicine?" She forced the request out, barely functional and reliant on the kindness of strangers. Getting the go ahead, I assisted her with loading the bike since she was having difficulty placing both wheels in the same slot. More than a year earlier, I'd picked her up on the 10 over by the Florida House Experience. At that time, she had been bright-faced and vivacious. Today, either the early hour or an unfortunate relapse had discolored her into a haggard, strung out low point.

The roaring morning had settled into humming calm as the machinery of life spun its wheels, and lunchtime approached. At Central Terminal for my last trip north, a couple with all their belongings in bags came over in the usual way.
"We just need a ride to Sunrise, to a church."
A block past Sunrise and the green building came into view.
"Next stop, driver." The woman's voice drifted up.
   'Ok, the meatloaf church.'
"Ha ha! Every 60 driver knows the meatloaf church! Here just in time to grab a tray!" The man joked.
   'Now you're makin' me hungry!' I half-joked, part of me wishing to join them, part of me wondering what the next stop might bring.

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