Monday, August 24, 2020

So slow, so fast


Less than an hour into a late night on 441. The evening was young, yet late enough that rush hour was over. We'd made the first of several trips north, just a few stops left before crossing the county line into Palm Beach. An older woman boarded at Johnson Road with no greeting or mention of the fare, only a judgmental comment about the blank headsign on the front of the bus. This was followed by general disgust about poor bus service, and somehow related to a quote she recalled from an 80s business book:
"There's no shortage of money; there's a shortage of ideas."
Clearly she believed there was a lack of focus in the way services are rendered.
"People are distracted today, and don't spend time thinking," she went on, as she loosely connected a short-sighted approach with the fact there would be no bus for her to catch in a couple hours when she needed it most.

We made the Sandalfoot loop in Boca Raton and slid into the layover slot. A 20-something guy wearing a backpack to accessorize his colorful hipster outfit wandered on board before I could leave the seat.
"I lost my backpack on a 19 bus," he started with a soft-spoken manner, looking at me through smart glasses and impressive thick shoulder-length braids framing his face. I might have begun to point at the backpack he already had, but that was too obvious.
"It has a firearm inside," he explained, whispering the confession.
I advised him to call Customer Service and offered him a ride south, but he was going north.
"It's like life went to shit so fast..." he thought aloud as he stepped back on to the sidewalk and drifted away.

That disturbing encounter was left behind when I got back down to Lauderhill Mall and bumped into a regular. The shift was about half over and we were into the 10 o'clock hour. My friend caught my bus to hit a bar uptown.. We took the good times on the road as we left the bus terminal and turned on to State Road 7. A couple stops in, an obviously inebriated gentleman boarded with a vacant smile. He stood up front, presumably not to miss his stop. His vision must have been blurry, since he stood too close to my friend and stepped on the toes of his new boots. That flipped a switch in this man who had been joking only a moment before. He got dark fast, reaching in his pocket and threatening to pull out his pistol. He was disrespected and demanded an apology. I worked to calm him down, pointing out the offender was drunk and didn't do it on purpose. He calmed down till we got to Oakland Park Boulevard, where he exited and stood just outside the door, taunting the hot-stepper to get off too. The other guy was still oblivious of his wrongdoing, so I offered up the apology the situation demanded, and thanked him for his patience to boot. Sometimes the best way to de-escalate a tense moment is to just close the door, so that's what I did.

The toe-cruncher remained aboard and needed assistance locating his stop. I was happy to remind him when we got there, he gave me thanks and a fist bump. It was as if the trouble he'd initiated never even happened. It's like life went so fast...

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