Saturday, April 29, 2006

So anyone tuning in knows I've been learning to drive a bus, and yesterday was the longest I spent behind the wheel yet. 5 hours of driving around and playing, and it was way neat.

So this old man gets on because I'm picking up anyone wanting a ride and of course not charging them squat. The poster boy for what a gentleman should be, he thanks me for the ride and we chat for a time. Seems that it's getting too expensive to run his air conditioning at home so he waits until the heat of day becomes oppressive then hops aboard a cool bus.

Summer hasn't yet begun, but it's Florida so high-80's to low-90's is usual for our Spring, and now I'm feeling terrible that this 80+ war vet has to leave his home to get away from the heat because energy costs are too high.

He is far from the only one. There's a subculture of such travelers, hopping from bus to bus to beat the heat. Young mothers, the elderly, the intellectually challenged. Two dollars buys an all day pass on the city buses but most drivers don't charge these folks anything.

So the old man rode with me for a time and we talked about life in his day, and my day, and this day. He held his dignity on a level beyond reproach but I could sense his sadness of a time lost, a culture long removed from pleasantry for the sake of pleasantry, and decency as it's own reward. I took him close to a small lake, and he got off to walk by the cool shoreline. He offered that it would be nice to see me again, and I agreed, so I'll be looking for him whenever I drive and he'll pass the fare box with a small smile and a wink at my small act of generosity.

4 comments:

Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

He held his dignity on a level beyond reproach but I could sense his sadness of a time lost, a culture long removed from pleasantry for the sake of pleasantry, and decency as it's own reward.

Just a beautiful thought and a well-turned sentence. It brought tears to my eyes.

Fits said...

I'll tell him you said hi, Pat.

Lemuel Calhoon said...

Many of these folks can be found at the mall. It is cool in summer and warm in winter. There is a security staff and a couple of police officers always about. There is room to walk if they need/desire excercise and the company of others their age to pass the time.

And for the older gentlemen in the hottest months the young women come in wearing next to nothing.

Fits said...

That too. It's unreal what these children are wearing, or not wearing.