Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Open door policy

"You're late, Papa, late!" The middle-aged man chided me with a relaxed Jamaican accent as he paid his fare one clinking quarter at a time. He was right - we were two minutes behind schedule. The predawn darkness at 41st St may have altered his sense of time, or maybe he'd just missed the previous bus twenty minutes earlier. Either way, to him we were late and most likely everyone else on board were equally anxious to get where they needed to be. The cabin of the sixty-foot 441 Breeze filled steadily with the faces of the waking city.

The Miami Subs just south of Griffin Road was a conspicuous beacon on our dim journey. A crew was applying stucco in the harsh wash of flood lights. Traffic is still friendly at this hour so we were never more than five minutes down, even though we had to take it easy on the Swiss cheese stretch of road under construction in Hollywood.

We were on time when we got to County Line Road, with only two more stops between us and the layover at Golden Glades Interchange. I serviced the stop and clicked the door lever closed, but the rear doors remained open. An interlock prevents a bus from moving when these doors are open, so I parked it and got up to investigate. Nervous eyes looking on became nervous voices wondering what the problem was.
"What happened? Are you going to get me to the Glades before 7?" I recognized her as a long time regular from when I drove her home in the evenings on this route. She had to make her connection for her job in downtown Miami. The doors were able to be coaxed shut and we booked it south. When we arrived at Golden Glades with ample time for her to transfer, she made it a point to thank me on her way out.
"You did well. I commend you." These are the commendations that encourage me daily. They come by the busload, each one cherished, knowing they will never collect dust like the paper kind.

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