Everyday driving the bus can be somewhat of a routine situation if you do not have the ability to really look below the surface. We as a people run on a schedule that can be quite predictable in a way that can rob our life of the necessary amounts of spontaneity that we need to spice up an existence to add a bit of delicious intrigue to a life that can become void of anticipation.
While many of us would love to have a little more spontaneity in our lives, there are many who thrive under the constant scope of the unpredictable.
It never ceases to amaze me how those of us who have a set work schedule with hours that are practically written in stone always seem to bitch and moan the most about how the schedule is killing them and how they are so stressed out because of it.
While those who are called homeless who live moment to moment seemed to have developed an instinct for navigating through life without the luxury of knowing nothing beforehand on how their day will develop.
They do not know WHAT they will eat, they do not know WHERE they will eat, and many couldn’t tell you even IF they will eat!
The same goes for sleeping, there is a whole SCIENCE behind being homeless and many of us would be crushed if we had to endure the daily and nightly rigors of”winging it” for the amenities that we so arrogantly take for granted in our stable homes.
Driving my bus at night as opposed to the day offers many opportunities for me to observe the controlled prepackaged world as most see it as well as the underground netherworld that runs covertly concurrent deep in the underbelly of this illusion of a so called major tourist spot named Orlando.
There are legions of many faceless people who thrive in the underground economy as well as those hungry for the immeasurably microscopic crumbs from the table of abundance who are barely getting a bite from that same sometimes elusive and always invisible buffet of street life.
The funny thing is you cannot tell who many of them are, they appear normal, civil, mannerable, literate, personable and will oftentimes have an very successful affluent look!
They are stripped away of the facades that many of us so crudely display while many of those who are less fortunate are only seeking relief from the very obvious lifestyle that manifested itself from the result of either bad luck, poor choices or both.
One regular passenger that really sticks out in my mind is a gentleman that I often refer to as “The Businessman.” This man is one of the most puzzling individuals that I have ever encountered in my years of driving for the public.
When I first laid eyes on him years ago I remember saying to myself “what is HE doing on this bus?” Why did I say this? Well I didn’t say it because he appeared to be a derelict or anything, I said that to myself because I thought by his appearance ALONE he was far above ever being seen near the inside of a city bus for the purpose of riding on public transportation.
Now let’s get to the juicy part about him, he is an older white male, I would say approximately 62 years old or so, short, standing in at about five foot four inches tall with a slim masculine build. Nothing exceptional about his appearance in any particular way, except that he does sport a head full of white hair cropped in a professional corporately acceptable style.
He is ALWAYS conservatively dressed down in a carefully tailored well fitting suit. It is obvious that plenty of care and time was taken in putting together his meticulously impressive appearance.
His shoes were made of the finest leather and were always polished to perfection. His collection of ties were definitely vast as I have never ever seemed to catch this man wearing the same tie twice!
His shirts were always clean and pressed and he always carried either an attache’ case or a small bag that looked to contain possibly some business files or something of that sort.
His Rolex watch brilliantly glistened on his wrist as he always seemed a little on edge in his demeanor and sometimes even upset that maybe he was running a bit late to an important meeting. Constantly he always glanced at his watch and checked the time every two minutes.
His presence and bearing is that of one who brings total silence to a room full of chaotic shark like shysters upon his arrival. He commands attention where EVER he goes and can be very intimidating in his own silent way as you kind of understand that somehow, somewhere and someway that he runs things in a VERY big manner.
You just don’t know where.
He walks with the utmost confidence every time I see him and appears to be the kind of person who wouldn’t flinch in the face of danger, hell, he wears a Rolex on the city bus late at night! So I would never question his lack of fear although at times I have wondered about the level of his sanity.
Maybe he’s strapped and packin’………?
This was the professional “go getter” impression he always seemed to impress upon me from my perspective, but something about him below the facade just wasn’t right. I just couldn’t put my finger on it…………
Something about his movements just didn’t match his appearance as I was privy to his company frequently even though as a bus driver I was a faceless entity and have a presence undetectable to most.
No, he wasn’t on drugs.
No, he wasn’t a con artist running scams on people as he said very little in the years that I’ve known him from a distance.
He was somewhat stand offish and very soft spoken………
But it began to add up over time as to what the mystery of the businessman was all about! He was ALWAYS on the bus a little more than a person with a full life would be. He never seemed to be going anywhere in particular, I never noticed this at first because I assumed because of his successful image he must have a lot of business to take care of.
And it dawned on me that this is why we get scammed the way we do because we judge people on appearances, and because we judge people on appearances this very habit that we foolishly depend on to gauge the content of a strange persons unknown character can be turned around and used against us with great success.
I see evidence of this every Sunday for example on my bus, the same guys that were drinking up a storm, begging money and sometimes drugging it all week long without any semblance of employment or gainful living are now zoot suited up, showered and shaved and slapped with some of the cheapest cologne that could EVER assault the nostrils in search of a responsible hard working church woman who most likely lives alone with no children.
She would be most desirable to these poor examples of manhood if she was a little past her prime and a lot heavier in body weight than her younger days insuring a healthy dose of insecurity that these leeches could capitalize on for their own predatory mission and gain.
Armed with a Bible that they never took the time to ever read, it is obvious that it is merely a stage prop and part of their costume as they are always the last to find the scripture that the Pastor calls for his congregation to read.
Still shuffling through the Holy Word long after everyone else has found it, they give up and coyly peek to the front of their Bible to find the position of the book they seek before blending in with the rest as they scope the crowd for lonely woman who will fall victim to their “under the radar” flirtations………
These goons know that there are many women out there who may be a good person really trying to follow the Lord and do the right thing but secretly long for the electric touch of a man………
…….these women always seem to settle for less while these guys high five each other on the corner later on that week, laughing amongst themselves bragging about how they met a new victim and now have a new mailing address in “the rich part of town!”
Surface appearances give absolutely NO indication as to the character of the person deep down inside.
……but we will definitely talk about that on another blog!
……now back to the Businessman!
I was on to something with this man, I mean, I really do not go on the bus with the intention of digging into someone’s personal business but from my regulated position everyday, you just can’t help but notice the repetitious events in the daily lives of your passengers.
I started to really notice the businessman’s movements, let me rephrase that, I started to purposely watch his movements, his comings and goings. I noticed that he would sometimes ride my bus for the entire round trip. Surely he knew the route so it couldn’t have been a mistake. He didn’t pass his bus stop because on the way heading back in on the return trip he would ride back all the way to the end downtown.
Periodically gazing at the interior of the bus while it was full of passengers, I would notice the businessman talking under his breath, nothing unusual because he always wore a blue tooth (earpiece) and was probably conducting some type of business transaction on the phone until I noticed him mumbling to himself one day WITHOUT the blue tooth on!
“Nooooo! He couldn’t be losing it” I thought to myself as I quickly told myself that a man of his standing probably had some new type of blue-tooth that you can’t see buried deep in his ear from plain view. But as he exited the bus to no avail, both ears were empty!
Don’t you see how human nature can be? When the small signs began to appear that something wasn’t right about this guy, I began to make excuses to make things look right to me about him in my mind. And although him talking to himself was a simple non life threatening observation on my part, how many of us find a family member using drugs and begin to make an excuse against what is “oh so obvious?” How many of you ladies find regular and obvious indications of your man’s philandering ways only to go beyond giving him the benefit of the doubt into a mindset of twisted denial?
As the saying goes: If it looks like duck……….
Well the businessman began to ride the entire bus route’s round trip trip on a regular basis. His expensive customized suites began to appear disheveled and his shirts wrinkled. I didn’t see him wearing the Rolex anymore and he looked so worn and tired. He would abruptly exit the bus on bus stops in areas that had nothing around that particular area open at that late hour of the night and had me wondering where was he actually going because my bus was the last bus to get back downtown that night.
One night, while driving late, I noticed him sitting at the bus sitting upright but sleeping, I stopped and honked the horn as he jumped to attention before quickly entering my bus.
Now his behavior was obviously bizarre as he would change his seat about fifteen times in a twenty minute ride. He looked pissed off as he spoke louder than ever before to an imaginary entity as if he had some dispute in a corporate setting.
After all the time he rode with me on my bus over the years it dawned on me that this man who actually bothered no one, always paid his bus fare and never begged for money was HOMELESS!
Unbelievable! ………Because most people who saw him never knew and never will. It took the regularity of seeing him from the bus driver’s point of view to discover his well kept secret. He definitely has some source of regular income as I was thinking that at one time he really was a corporate CEO and took a big fall financially when the stock market crashed and still had some money in a trust fund socked away that helped to keep him afloat.
And in actuality I don’t really think that he was without a roof over his head because he had to have somewhere to keep all of the shoes, clothes and possessions and he never really fell below a certain level of maintenance.
Most individuals who took a fall in this poor economy have dealt with it the best that they could in many ways. Those of us who know what it is like to do without don’t freak out when it is time to tighten the belt to make it through the rough times. Others act like it is the end of the world when they lose the high lifestyle amenities that they have become so comfortable living with..
It wouldn’t hurt me at all to sell my car and ride the bus, (I already have and absolutely do not miss the note NOR the maintenance!) but some people identify with the material possessions that they own so much that they begin to think that this is who they are. They have lost their sense of esteem from within and have transferred it externally. So now when they must part with the worthless junk that they depend on for their sense of status right along with their fellow cohorts who also honor this sick code of ethics.
Imagine how many millions of similar stories that there are out there that we will never know in this vast world. Sometimes we may knock ourselves for not reaching the projected accomplishments that we put ourselves under immense pressure to reach, but even if you never make it “to the top” of your goals, consider yourself blessed, consider yourself blessed if you have an internet connection and the eyesight to enjoy reading these words whether you agree with them or not!
Consider yourself blessed that you have SANE mind to know where you are and what you are doing at this very moment.
We are forced in these lean times to have no choice BUT to appreciate the TRUE blessings of life that the Creator has so abundantly rained down on our sometimes unappreciative souls. So thank God for the lean time s too!
I am reminded of this precious and often very overlooked fact constantly everyday I sit behind the wheel of that forty foot bus and knowing this has kept me even more grounded in my life than ever before and I am thankful for this realization.
So while I am blessed more so than I have ever been in any point in my life I understand that I am not what I own, hell, I don’t even own what I own because I can’t take it with me when my Maker calls.
So I’ve learned from the lesson of “The Businessman” that it is fruitless to lose my mind over lost possessions and in essence losing the ability to absorb the beautiful life that I am granted right now in this very moment!