Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Bad luck

Early morning shifts haven't been my thing for awhile, I'm a night owl at heart. The plus side of starting early is that you also finish early. This shift on the 34 was over by lunch. First I would pre-trip the bus at the garage, roll it east on Sample Road taking care to pop the doors open at two sets of railroad tracks, and wait at the start point for my pullout time. This was the fourth bus of the morning, and the last moment when the street would be asleep.

The bus was one of our newer models, which meant it was a slow starter. It's a great feature for safety, easing forward so nobody falls down. However, it also means by the time the bus has built up speed someone pulls the cord and the process starts over again.

We were filling up quickly with polite school kids, responsive to my morning greetings in a way that would be out of place on other routes. It indicated good parenting and presumably good schooling at Coral Springs High.

This first trip was a smooth one, traffic was beginning to trickle out of apartment complexes but there was plenty of lane space. After servicing the Tri-Rail station I could make out a dark figure jaywalking ahead of us, so brought the bus to a stop well short of the traffic light in the left turn lane. A man in some shade of green scrubs crossed in a daze, toting a clear hospital bag. After crossing Andrews, he shuffled across the width of Sample to the bus stop. Two others already waiting there boarded before he stepped into the light of the cabin. A cast on his left forearm and a patchwork of bandage strips on the other covered whatever damage had been done to his arms. His face was uncovered though, and I'm sad to say looked like it had been through a meat grinder. Talking must have been painful, for he did little of it except to ask for a ride. Gave him a brief look over to make sure he had no exposed open wounds. Everything looked either covered or coagulated so he was good to go. He stood up front the whole way to 441, holding on to the bag, apparently with his original clothes inside.

The students piled out at Rock Island, just as polite on the way to their classes.

Farther down the road, on a later trip, a familiar face. He always has something nice to say.
"You're bad luck! You're bad luck for the people, whatever route you're on! There's always bad news!" He greeted me with his regular niceties.
   'What's the bad news today?' I asked.
"Nothin' yet, you're on time." He answered, cooling down on his pleasantries for me but letting the whole bus know how he felt about other "bad luck" drivers, "asshole" drivers, and "Jesus freak" drivers.
"That's my church over there." He proudly informed me. "Actually I'm a member of the Methodist Church at 86th Ave."
   'The one with the pumpkins?'

Our final eastbound and the sky was overcast, though things brightened on the bus at University when I picked up the Hawaiian man who has a treasure trove of stories and trivia. Not especially talky today, he headed for the seats, and was still sure to see me on his way out.
"You're getting to be an old pro, a veteran." He complimented my driving.
   'We try, we try.'
"Hey, that's all you can do."

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