Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Gotta do something
The relief took place near the end of the route, and the previous driver gave me a healthy bus and a report of clear streets. Ten minutes later I was at the north end layover for the 60, stretched the legs until the appointed moment arrived and we went back into service southbound. The crush of students at Broward College North Campus only set us back a few minutes, but the trip was young. Little more than 15 minutes into a one hour trip, we were in the turn lane on Atlantic at NW 27th Ave. There would be no turning for us, the road was completely barricaded. There was some extensive road work happening on the other side of the barriers, either put up in record time after the previous driver passed through or something he neglected to relay to me. It was a low blow at a crucial time of day, but bus drivers don't cry - we find a way forward. I improvised a detour to get us back on route without missing too many stops. However, the damage was done; we were late to start with and that unforeseen obstacle buried us.
In the midst of our storms, the sun peeks through and reminds us why we're here. Hours into the tumult of the afternoon, when my follower was catching up with me repeatedly, a familiar face appeared. Weathered and wizened by years in the sun tending to nursery plants, her dark eyes shone from leathery wrinkles above a golden glint from smiling caps long worn through. No time for extended pleasantries, I could only smile back at my neighbor. Perhaps I shared some brief greeting in painful husky voice or perhaps merely clasped at my throat, but she stopped time for that bus and the impossible schedule became irrelevant.
Settled in and settled down for the remainder of the shift, my friend at Matco Stone hopped on along that dusty stretch by the railroad. A beacon of brightness in his long-sleeve safety yellow shirt, he sympathized with the ailment limiting my speech, the words flowing quickly with his island intonation testing my accent acuity. He had something important to announce. His lady was pregnant and he was going to be a father for the first time. It was a boy. I congratulated him with as much voice as I could summon.
"You have any kids?" he asked.
'Nah, kids cost money!' I joked back.
"Yeah, but you gotta do something. I'm 48..."
The man who moves train cars full of rock went back to talking shop, comparing our long days. We'd worked all day and the bus was late, but the time was right.