Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Doctor's orders


Bus operators routinely drive multiple routes over the course of their work week. Sure, there are straight runs, when we can do the same route, at the same time, Monday through Friday. My preference is for variety, and after a couple exciting days on the beach and inner city, today had me on the 441 Breeze. A decidedly inland route where salty air is merely a memory, we'd be cruising up and down the central spine of Broward County. It may not have bikinis and cookouts, but it's still a throbbing thoroughfare of Life.

Mr. Derrick brought me the bus on time. My pull out time coincided with the changing traffic signal, which kept us trapped to the side until the tsunami of vehicles subsided. When the tide turned in our favor, we eased into the artery like a 60-foot blood cell flowing south. The onboard announcer was mute today, and I'd have to summon my booming bus voice to reach the back seats when calling out stops.

An elderly man with a shiny aluminum cane waited for us at Sample Road. He wore a face mask paired with blue nitrile gloves. This was before mask mandates were issued by the County, so such combinations were an unusual sight. The gentleman was self-conscious about this and felt compelled to explain with two simple words: "Doctor's orders."
'Better safe than sorry.' I replied with reassurance.

Two things are certain in this world, and the woman in a Lady Liberty costume after Atlantic Boulevard reminded us of one of those things. She stood outside Liberty Tax with her placard and waved back as I gave her a couple toots on the horn.

Life is a breeze on the Breeze, and we were never more than a few minutes late. The Breeze is also limited stop, which means bypassing many local stops in between the major intersections. This can confuse passengers unfamiliar with the difference. We serviced the stop at Griffin Road and wouldn't be stopping again for a couple miles, when a man pulled the string. Even though there was a language barrier, he expressed that he wanted to get off. By now I'd switched to the middle lane at cruising speed. Doing my best to explain the situation to him, I gave him a transfer to take the local route back to his stop.

Travel with ease on the 441 Breeze, I imagined a potential tagline for this route. The marketing department can use it if they like, pro bono.

Broward Boulevard is the halfway time point on this route, and also our County's namesake after a one-term governor who vowed to drain the Everglades over a century ago. A cyclist exited there, along with his well-wishes: "May your corona come in bottles."
These were the early days of the viral spread, and our updated vocabulary still had a sense of humor. His light-hearted wish was welcome levity after the previous days of grinding it out on another route. Today's shift was smooth like the undrained River of Grass -  or those cold bottles the cyclist referred to.

Rolling through Lauderhill, I let out a couple love taps for the stalwart sign holder after 26th Street. He leaned behind his upright sign touting a special on oil changes, his stoic pose as reliable and timeless as the shade tree which sheltered him beside the streaming roadway.

Commercial Boulevard eventually appeared before us, and time was on our side. Miss Lita was laying over there with her Route 11 bus, the very route that had vexed me mercilessly before the weekend. Today was Monday however, so I was happy to hear the beach traffic was good for her. We both were having good days, recharging our batteries for the draining days that were sure to return.

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