Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Rosy in the rain

The sky apparently forgot it was Sunday because the drizzle and downpours had settled in for the morning. Rain is a blessing as it brings growth and keeps everything green, but it makes for sloppy days on the bus. Passengers have to keep their belongings covered and themselves sheltered as they wait for us to arrive. It makes for uncomfortable misery and a driver's patience knob needs to be turned up.

Florida's mountains are in the sky, and giant ones were on the horizon ahead of me as I left the garage and headed downtown to start my shift. Central Terminal had a sizable crowd waiting for my bus, another result of the wetness. Inclement weather alters regular travel patterns, causing unexpected surges in ridership. The wheelchair passenger from my previous stint on the 40 was among the couple dozen clamoring for the dry cabin. He finally had his new chair after so long on the waiting list, with slightly cambered wheels that no longer got jammed on the ramp.

Late morning and the rain was letting up. You can feel the earth come to life as light returns and everything leafy drinks up. This time the sunshine was adorned with dreadlocks.
   'Did you bring the sun? I noticed the clouds opening up.' I asked her.
"You know, I like it when it's like this because I don't get burnt out." She commented on the overcast.
   'Yeah, it's not blazing hot...'
"Did you go on vacation?" She changed the subject as she swiped her pass.
   'No, but they move us around.' I thought she was asking where I'd been.
"You have a rosy glow, dahling. Good to see you!"
I didn't look in the mirror, but I was probably blushing.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

All in the same bus

Sunday mornings on the 42 were over for me, now I was back on familiar turf driving Route 10. The 10 is a sweet route to start with, gliding up and down Federal Highway from Broward Boulevard to Palmetto Park Road in Boca Raton.

My deadhead trip to Central Terminal was sunny, but still early enough to give way to the shadows of downtown towers. We pulled out of the terminal to start our service on the least-hectic day of the week. At ArtServe, Dierdre was waiting under the black olives. It had been awhile since we'd seen each other over here so it was new to see her in a colorful shirt for a car wash up the street. She was working at Goodwill before and was excited about this new job.
"I worked 9 hours yesterday! Non-stop, it flew by."

A man in fatigues and both arms weighted with luggage stepped up to the curb at Wagner Tire, our last shared stop with the 36 before turning northward. He set one bag down by the farebox to remove his pass from his mouth and give it a smooth swipe before reversing the process and finding a seat.
   'We're all in the same bus!' I offered up out of recognition. Quite some time ago he coined that phrase in response to my tired recitation of 'We're all in the same boat.' At that time he had more luggage and created a minor delay for the bus as he got everything stowed aboard. He was apologetic then and I assured him of my patience since we all have similar predicaments from time to time. Now after recognizing him and his creative contribution, he drew a blank and didn't remember saying it. Remember or not, it was still true now as it was then.

In Boca Raton, we waved Good Morning at old man Mizner's pedestalled statue, with mischievous Johnnie Brown keeping him company. Pulling into our north layover by the Publix, a regular there couldn't wait to board. Half-paralyzed on one side, this was his turf. Perpetually with a portable cooler in his good hand, he set it down to pay his fare and shuffle to a seat by the rear door. Painfully self-conscious, he had no patience for others on the bus.
"People always lookin' at me weird. Makes me sick to my..." He complained loudly with piercing squeaky voice.

It was easy time going back south, keeping on schedule. Someone requested the Greyhound stop.
There are bus fans, and then there are fans of bus operators. Francois is one of the latter. Exchanging fist bumps at Central Terminal, he talked about his favorite drivers as he stood in the slot for another route.

Even on the weekend, weekday chaos can make a visit. Approaching Copans Road, a fresh rear-end fender bender was sitting in the middle lane. Our timing was fortuitous as ambulances and police pulled up to the wreck while we sat at the red light. The bus squeezed through the flurry of activity before the scene was closed off.

Any return to the 10 would be incomplete without an appearance by a legend on the route, Miss Patty. This time however, she appeared in name only. Heading back to the garage after our shifts, the other driver in the taxi told me she heard Patty had died. This was the first I'd heard of it, and feared the worst since I hadn't seen or heard of her for longer than I could remember. Life on the streets toughens those who call it home, and also takes them away without warning. It was stunning news, but would be hard to accept without evidence. Time would tell more about her fate.