Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Homemade angels

Night shifts are the quiet time, when debilitating traffic abates enough to keep the bus from running late. Other reasons can arise to throw us off, however. This was extra work, just a single round trip on the lengthy #81 starting at Central Terminal. My old classmate Alvin seemed surprised when I showed up to relieve him. He gave me a good report on the bus and let me know about the detour on 7th Avenue. We used Andrews to bypass the closure, which threw us off a couple minutes. This route is an hour and a half from end to end so we'd make it up down the line.

At the Hill I pulled into the 36 slot as if that's where we belonged. It was out of habit after countless dockings there. The 81 slot was right in front of the 36, and the folks waiting there motioned me to come to them. I'd already popped the doors open so once everyone had exited, I swung out and pulled forward, slightly kissing the platform with some side rubber. A woman looked on with concern.
"Are you ok?" She kindly asked.
   'We're ok!' I assured her, explaining the mix-up.

We remained a couple minutes down while servicing Hawaiian Gardens, Inverrary, Deepside, and Sunset Strip.  After the last timepoint we were able to more than compensate as we cruised down University Drive on route to West Terminal.

The second trip was the last trip, pulling out of the terminal just before 10:30 pm. Though the hour was late, it was also the first of the month, so I shouldn't have been too surprised about the three baby strollers we picked up before we even got to Sunset Strip. We went back the way we came, again through the endless apartment blocks in Deepside, a last pass through the curves of Inverrary, and a slow crawl around the dark corners of Hawaiian Gardens. We serviced the correct slot at Lauderhill Mall this time, glided through the neighborhood south of the Swap Shop, and finally emerged onto Broward Boulevard.

This was the home stretch, 30 blocks till the end of the run. We crested the I-95 overpass and came to a stop behind a 22 bus waiting at the red light. A frantic woman on the sidewalk was waving her arms, first at the bus ahead and getting no affirmation, then my way. I never wave or direct someone to approach the bus through traffic, but she took the initiative and when she stood at my doors I couldn't just leave her exposed out there. She boarded with pass in hand, talking to no one special about a trip "way out to Bumfuck, Egypt". It sounded like an adventure. She rode to the end of the line downtown, and while shuffling off took a moment to tell me I was her angel tonight for getting her home safely. She gifted me a small card with hand drawn art: colorful praying angel on one side, the opposite side reading Love Joy  ♥.

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