I realized many years ago that those very popular reality television shows have nothing on what I do in the streets for eight hours a day. Driving a bus up and down the streets gives you a ringside seat to happenings and events as they happen spontaneously right in front of your very eyes.
You get to see what WILL be on the evening news BEFORE it's featured on the news!
While many others who do what I do have become disgruntled with the public and encrusted with the very attitudes that they complain the passengers possess, I for the most part enjoy my workday every single night that I go out to work because I have developed my own very personal methods of dealing with the wayward spirits that lurk almost undetectably in my midst everyday.
To me, a successful day is a day that I can return home with just as much enthusiasm, focus, energy and joy as I left my house earlier. I have to thank God that ninety nine point nine percent of those days are are of that standard and that other fraction of days where my spirit gets "tried" by someone are still simply wonderful!
Many people that know me personally think I am on something! Lol! They think I am secretly taking a Prozac/Ecstasy mood altering drug combo! Nothing could be further from the truth and do let me correct that statement and say that is was a joke as my close friends know that my energy levels are all natural and I have been this way all of my life because I've always taken care of myself.
What most people fail to understand is that in this life there are always two sides to every situation. To break it down in a way to fit
my point here is that there are always two ways to look at the things that transpire in your life.
I believe I have said it before maybe in a different manner on another blog but what may appear to be a bad thing in someone else's eyes may be the very thing that you have been looking for that will change your life for the better!
So when things are put in your particular path in life, you must evaluate it for yourself in order to see if it is a good thing or an unwise path for you to travel. No one else can make this choice for you as only you must live with it for that designated time period.
This type of thought process is not for the weak minded as it will demand of you to be strong in your conviction to walk in your OWN path with no doubts whatsoever. Once you make a decision in life you must follow through with no matter what. You must live in this manner because when the naysayers even think about dropping a seed of doubt into your mind they already KNOW that they will be wasting their time trying to discourage YOU! And I happen to be one of those bull headed individuals, as if you couldn't tell! Lol!
I must admit that one of the righteous defenses that I have in dealing with the public while I drive that bus is that watch my day as it's happening as though it's a television show that I am not a part of.
I can't take the slurs and comments thrown at me personally because these people don't know me personally, and for those that do most of them are only a small part of my vast world, never the whole. So coming through that door any attack levied against me is already greatly diminished before it can ever have a chance of taking hold. So the entertainment element of these various attitudes that pass my fare box can only at best amuse me and help to make my day more interesting and become more material to add to the creative pool to later extract from for this blog. It's recycling at its best!
See how I swing it?
But for those poor souls who haven't a clue as to how to master their destiny I can only feel sorry for them, and as much as I can wish to help them many would think that I was crazy for doing so because we speak a different "language." understand that many who claim to be spiritual are not actually spiritual but merely religious. Day after day, they speak the right things and say the right "holy" words and phrases but haven't a clue as to how to incorporate those same words in their existence to empower their lives and move forward to make great things happen because they haven't been taught how to "decode" the Holy Scripture with all of its magnificent power.
So many push on in the name of faith while getting milked of their resources while given just enough "word" to keep them going for a week to keep them coming back for more of a meal that never let's them truly fill their plate.
Day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year I see the hopelessness and despair grow in the faces of these people who are for the most part very loving and decent but oftentimes very gullible.
My heart bleeds for them as they have dedicated their entire life to a "system" that drains them of their life force and cares not for their personal uplifting except to keep them alive enough to use them as a slave for their satanic benefit.
It is that sense of powerless that causes us in our pain to embark on all kinds of games and power trips that are foolishly manufactured to appease a mind that is so totally oppressed. We conjure up these confrontations to secure these insignificant meaningless victories in order to feel a sense of superiority in a life where any sizable amount of esteem is literally invisible.
This is more common than one would think, and it's so foolish that even I feel foolish to even repeat what I see on a constant basis.
Here is one crazy observation that I notice everyday.......
When I am entering the downtown bus station here in Orlando coming to the last stop and layover on my daily route, as I enter into the station there are usually so many people crossing the stations roadway in order to get to their connecting bus. Most never look either way before crossing so we as bus operators have to truly look out and be aware for the distracted pedestrians who seem to care not that their lives are weighing in the balance of every step they take without looking. Add to this equation the fact that they can't even hear anything around them because of the loud music in the headphones that they are wearing and you can really see how this scenario is a true recipe for disaster!
At least they have an excuse for being in a different world when they find themselves like a dear in the headlights of a huge vehicle mere feet away from them.
We are to drive at five miles per hour as we taxi to our designated bay where our next trip of passengers are awaiting to board the bus from which after we can take our short break until the scheduled departure time.......
Now. It doesn't ALWAYS go that smoothly! There are times, actually, MOST of the time as we are taxiing our bus inside of the downtown station, there are those who SEE the bus as they cross to the other side and purposely slow down enough where you as a driver are FORCED to slow down or hit them! Now while you would not want to hit them because our jobs would be lost, this scenario transpires because the person who is literally daring the driver to hit them is actually feeling a rush of power because they are feeling that they are controlling the manufactured situation to offset the lack of control in their own personal lives.
Here is an insight.......those who have a sense of where they are going in life and have a healthy sense of who they are and enjoy their lives wouldn't DARE think of doing such an childish thing, these healthy balanced individuals will usually wait for the bus even when they have sufficient time to cross, they will stand there and even motion to the bus to continue while waving with a smiling face in a very respectful manner to the driver.
See the difference?
We as human beings can be so transparent most of the time, we just don't see how we scream out to the world just what is in our hearts and minds. We display our immaturity and lack of common sense for all to see while we think we are being tough. We create these scenarios to have something attainable that we can "win" at in the midst of an otherwise hopeless life. We put to much effort into the frivolous endeavors that will not stand the test of time in our lives. This is why when most of us get older we can't stand the memories that we have created in our lives because we can only see the stupidity indulged in and nothing of note.
We can surround ourselves with the finest of man's creations yet feel as empty inside if we never took the time to "activate" our righteous God given mission on this earth to leave a "footprint" in this world based on principle to show that we were here. We can take a million pictures of ourselves and put them on our Facebook profiles but unless we are in tune with our Creator wants us to be in HIS name, we will only be a like a benched team member who never got to play on the winning team even though they were a part of it technically. You can't create those "signature moments" by sitting on the sidelines nursing an ego that weighs down your mission. In order to truly live a happy life you MUST become "selfless" and put your own ego aside to exalt and help your fellow Brother man and Sister woman.
When I observe these types who stare me dead in the eye literally daring me to hit them, I see their pain also as they want to pull everyone else into their space as though that act alone would lessen the hurt that they feel inside. They don't realize that there is a different and more effective way to siphon the hurt from their hearts as they have come to a point in their lives where they have found themselves in a place where the never anticipated. Most do not know how to adapt and then eventually shut down and cease to play the game of life because it wasn't made to order like they thought when things were running the way that they wanted.
It's almost like the time when you were driving down a road that you knew so very well and because of an obstruction or an accident up ahead of you, you were forced to detour. Now that comfortable feeling that you had driving down that well traveled road is gone, now you are unsure what to expect as you venture into a place unknown, it is in these situations that we find out what we are made of and if we base our lives on righteous principles then we know that with a little trial and error, we will get to our eventual destination and even learn of a new place that will help us in the future if we need to go back there once again. But if we base our lives on fads and passing fancies, we will always be a victim to the extreme insecurities and "here today gone tomorrow" mentalities that those who are the empty vessels called "followers" will always fill themselves up with.
Many of us are broken vessels that have filled up on the wrong sustenance, the wrong nutrition, the wrong word. We can find ourselves in top working order as our three tiered planes of existence are very much self healing when placed into the proper environment. So there is never a time when progress can't be made or healing can't take place. It is all a matter of how we choose to see our lives and if we are prepared to take the necessary steps in order to get there. I find that in most cases it is we who are our worst enemy as we cling on to the "known" ruts in our life instead of embracing the unknown realities that will not stay as an unknown factor for long if we have the courage to move into that zone.
I compare this to the time back in early 2001 when I fearlessly and abruptly moved from New York City to Orlando Florida without knowing a soul down here except maybe one or two friends who pretty much had their own things to deal with. When I came down many from back up in New York were terrified that I could make such a drastic move because it made them think of how they would deal with a similar scenario in THEIR lives. They thought I was nuts but I made the move and got BUSY to secure myself and keep my hands moving. I did well I must say and one of the sayings that I would always repeat to them on the phone when they began their fear mongering was that I have lots of friends down here that I haven't even met yet! And that ended up being the truth because just as I have close friends of mine in New York City, I have even MORE down here who have gradually been added to my life naturally like that soup on the stove in the big pot that has the ingredients slowly added to make a perfect meal!
I saw the kitchen from so many miles, followed my instincts to collect and corral the ingredients to put into the pot, and now I am enjoying the most delicious soup of life! I realize that there are so many different "soups" to make in this world so I am not fearful of going anywhere or traveling to anyplace because I know that once there are people there, I can communicate with them and learn the ropes to eventually create a new reality that fits me like a custom suit!
Change to me is an opportunity for adventure, so know that when you are fired from a job, that is a cause to take action for your new reality! The man who walks across a tightrope never looks down because he is enjoying the view too much that we will NEVER see because we are too deathly afraid to join him! You see, those who take the dare and accept the challenge are rewarded with an insight and view that few others will ever enjoy because they cling hard to this thing called mediocrity. Greatness will never be born out of the mediocre. God doesn't even condone the mediocre because He didn't CREATE you to be mediocre. It take absolutely no effort to live a live that is average, being average means that you are coasting on the median of life and not committing to any movement out of your comfort zone.
And when we are not demanding of ourselves the best that God put in us, we begin to feel the weight of our inaction and a type of subconscious "guilt" that will manifest itself in a multitude of symptoms that are probably too much to list here and would require a six part blog series! LOL!
But moving along you wouldn't be able to count the amount of people going through major changes in their lives these days. From my perspective as someone who is paid to be in the streets all day and all night long, I get to see and experience the tensions and drama up close and personal. Just the other evening while deep in thought driving briskly down Orlando's Kirkman Road, it hit me that this one particular gentleman was in the back seat snoring away and was doing so for quite a while. I knew his face but didn't really know him to talk to him because he is the brand of passenger that although you as a driver may see him every single day, he is not the type of person to speak to you in passing. No greeting. No hello. He just boards the bus and grabs his seat and avoids eye contact with everyone around him and from what I've noticed before he never displayed any emotion whatsoever.
He was a Black man in his late fifties, about 5'9" tall, brown skin that looked leathery in the face. I don't know how but I can tell that he likes to drink, something about his skin and his look. The alcohol dried out his skin. He was stocky but not really fat although he had a slight paunch. I could tell that he worked in the kitchen of one of the big Disney area hotels by the white top that he always wore, but he seemed to be always standing in a way where you could never really see the tiny logo on it. He was always in an intense mood. The wrinkles in his face was a testimony to the probability that he carried himself in this manner all of his life. We begin to look like a caricature of ourselves as we get older and we "mark" ourselves by the kind of lives we live making it easier for others to tell what we are on the inside no matter how hard we try to mask it. And usually when we think we have the world fooled, the joke is really on us as the very people around us have us figured out.......
But he didn't strike me as a person who would eventually go postal, he seemed to just want to maintain a certain distance from everyone around him as it was his right to do so. But I know that he too like everyone else had a story to tell and I knew somewhat that since his rhythm was broken with him sleeping on the back of the bus, the time had come to find out a bit more about this mysterious passenger who never cracked a smile.
He wasn't the only person in the back of my bus sleeping, there were two other people deep in slumber there too. Another man and a woman to whom I believe were homeless, I was sure of it. You see, the homeless population here in Orlando have opened my eyes to a lot of things good and bad about this society. They've also taught me a vast amount of tricks that would open anyone's mind in the art of survival. Learning how to eat rather well and secure free shelter is not an easy task in this out of control world that we live in, but many of the people that I know who are thrust into this position have mastered it quite well. Some hold down jobs and pocket all of their money and refuse to reenter society to live what many of us will call a "normal" life ever again. and there is definitely a big part of me that can understand the mindset, but now after learning so much about that aspect of street life, being homeless doesn't strike the fear in my heart that it used to, I would be just fine. They have liberated my thinking for the better!
But one of their tricks that they do to secure a few hours of "safe" sleep is to ride the bus for the entire round trip. Some will choose the longest bus routes to ride on that take longer to reach back downtown in order to get that rest away from the oftentimes threatening elements. My bus route takes three hours to return back downtown after the initial departure, so theoretically, if one could "ride" for two round trips then that would be a full six hours of sleep, although not the deepest but it is quite safe. It began to be a problem when I first started because these individuals knew I was a new driver and wasn't aware to that game they they were playing with me. These folks would be sleeping the whole time and when we arrived to the end of the bus route halfway before returning they would tell me that they were going downtown. But I would think to myself that they BOARDED the bus downtown so what is the deal with that? It got out of hand and at its worse I had like ten people in the back of my bus snoring, farting and stinking so I knew that just HAD to end! Lol! I pretty much keep on top of the situation but as always there will be some who "slip through the cracks."
As I approached the last stop at the halfway point of my route behind Sand Lake Hospital, I do look forward to those few quiet moments to gather my senses or maybe answer the cal to nature, maybe continue writing a blog or catching up on the news, whatever I feel to do but when there are "guests" sitting on the bus it kind of takes away from that all consuming delicious feeling of solitude. Oh well, maybe next trip.......
The break that I had anticipated wasn't going to be as long as I thought, a few delays in traffic had me arrive to the end later than I thought and this would "eat" into my breaktime because I still had to leave at the proper departure time regardless. Sometimes I can arrive so late that I have no break at all. It all goes with the territory, no biggie.
So as I sat back in my seat I noticed one of the passengers walking toward the front of the bus and I knew there was a question coming my way.......
"Excuse me Sir......."
This person politely said to me in a discreet tone before I could turn around to really see who it was, but when I did I was shocked to see that it was the gentleman who never spoke to me just as he never did with anyone!
His respectable demeanor didn't match up with with the impression that I had of him from those brief dealings in passing, but needless to say, I was in shock and really wanted to hear what this man had to say.
I know I've never said anything to you but I just want to tell you that I think you are a cool brother because over the last few years since you started driving this bus, I watched how you treat people and handled yourself when you had to deal with the assholes out here and I always admired how you always knew how to deal with people!" WOW! I was surely flattered that not only did this man finally speak, but for him to say the nice things that he did was truly a shocker. It goes to show you that you never really know WHO is evaluating you, watching you and forming an opinion of you by the way that you carry yourself. But that wasn't it, he wasn't finished telling me what was in his heart. While I fired up the bus and got prepared to make my final inbound trip he stood near the front of the bus and I knew he had a lot to say, his heart was full and I felt that he just needed someone to talk to. But if the truth be told, I have always been the type of person that people felt comfortable talking to, I try to make an individual feel comfortable in their skin because we all have feelings and issues that need to be dealt with in this life.
He continued on with his words.......
"I know that you see me out here all the time and probably wondered if I live anywhere or not. I'm not a "houseless" man, I'm a homeless man. Understand? I have my own house that I am ahead of my mortgage on, but I don't like being there......."
Then he paused, and when I looked into the rear view mirror that gives me a view as to what is happening behind me on the inside of the bus, I could see his face with tears in his eyes!
This man was hurting!
You couldn't imagine the expression on his face, it's as though he realized that his whole entire life was a lie, a mistake. You can see the regret on his face for whatever it was that was bothering him. It was the face that either suicides or mass random shootings down at the mall were made of. And it wasn't a thing at this moment that I could say to change it, all I could do was to let him talk. I was just glad that at least he had me to talk to even though he didn't know me personally, I figured that he had sized me up long enough to know that I was cool to talk to after the glowing compliment that he afforded me.
"Oh I'm sorry to bother you with my personal shit man, and I'm sorry for being so rude. My name is John Paul, but the brothers in the streets call me J.P. I grew up around this part of Orlando and pretty much know everybody and everybody knows me. This is why I carry myself the way I do because most of the people around here are all out for themselves and most of them are full of shit! Well YOU know that because you are the bus driver, and I know that you have to deal with a lot of the bullshit around here every single day!"
"Just be careful with these bitches out here man, you are a good looking brother and they know that you are making money and they got you as a target. I know because I heard a few of them hoes talking about you on the bus on your days off. They ain't no good and are just looking to get an easy ride off of a hard working man."
"This is why I am out here and don't never want to go home until that bitch I got in my house goes to sleep. She just can't wait for me to get home just to nag me about every and any little thing. Damn! Very few bitches out here have it where they don't have to work. She got it made! She stays home all day and I make the money. Plus I get a retirement check from when I worked at the prison as well as a little disability from the government from when I was hurt on the job. My house is almost paid for and the mortgage is only a little over five hundred dollars a month."
"I ain't rich but you know what? I'm secure as hell because I don't have the worries that many men my age have who partied their life away but in a way I wish I did have more fun down through the years because home ain't what it's supposed to be for me! she don't give me a break. I'm a good man bus driver. I just go to work and come home. I don't fuck around in the streets like most men do who keep two or three women on the side to mess around with when the shit gets tight at home. No. I can't do that. But the way I see my life I probably would have a whole lot more peace of mind if I just stayed to myself and had me a young hoe that I could give a couple of dollars to every paycheck so she can suck my dick real good for me, swallow my nut and and then let me go on home where I don't owe nobody a damn thing and my house would be quiet and peaceful!"
"I can see why driver, shit, maybe sometimes that's what I need to just go on and do. That's not me, but i need relief and relaxation. every good hard working man deserves that. I wish she would understand what type of men are out here in the world but we been together too long and she wasn't running the streets when I met her so she doesn't know what shit is like out here in the streets. These men will beat her ass if she even thought about getting slick with the mouth and they would DARE her to call the police!"
"That's not me. I would rather leave. But you know what's hurting me so much driver? It's the fact that now I have high blood pressure behind this shit. I had to be admitted to the hospital a few weeks back and the doctor told me that if I don't straighten out my personal life then I would have to start picking caskets because it will be just a matter of time before I will drop dead!"
"To hell with that bus driver! I worked hard all my life to get what I have and never broke the law, always pay my bills on time, always tried to help others and kept my nose out of other people business. So why am I going through this pain man? WHY?"
I was taken aback by the intensity of this man's perceptions on life. But his opinion is actually his "fact", and while no one knows how they will react and how they will deal with this type of intense marital discomfort, one thing is for sure that it is not an easy thing to handle as I suspect that many a good man is now six feet under as well as being locked down because of the way they dealt with that pain that can bring down the best of us.
We became the best of friends now and he still rides my bus sometimes still when the heat gets too hot at home. But after spending many hours with him to encourage him and to help him to "see" his situation from a different perspective that will keep him from doing something drastic, I found our exchanges very rewarding as he has gotten involved in many activities that he enjoys and has even gotten his wife out of the house and into marriage counseling with him as they both now enjoy some activities that have taken them "out" of their narrowed mindset and into the bigger world around them that was always theirs to enjoy.
But there was a point when I didn't see my friend for weeks afterward and although I knew that his wife and he were doing better, I was afraid that maybe they had relapsed into the destructive behavior patterns that had them at odds with each other. But just that fast my concerns were found to be unnecessary, on my brief layover at the Washington Shores Superstop, I had my face down in my phone texting someone as I stood a few feet away from the bus, little did I know that someone was standing right up behind me and actually hugged me from behind as I was startled for a moment. I turned around quickly to see a woman who was quite attractive with the biggest smile, I never ever saw this woman before and wondered why she was smiling so brightly as though her and I were the best of friends.......I also looked over next to the bus in the street and saw the biggest and prettiest Cadillac Escalade that I have ever saw in my life! Who was it? Why were these people there?
Well as my eyes focused into the massive SUV, I realized it was J.P! He went out and bought a new Cadillac and the person smiling at me was his beautiful wife! She grabbed my hands and looked me deeply in the eyes and thanked me for spending the time with her husband which gave him the strength to approach her in a different manner which made her realize how blessed she was to have a man like him. I heard the vehicle door close as J.P. approached us with a big smile on his face. He reached out his hand to shake mine and he pulled me in to give me the manly shoulder hug and in his hand was some paper that I realized was three hundred dollars!
I asked him what was that for and he told me that he HAD to do something for me for the time I took to help him with his problems because there is no price that a man can pay to get his life back together and that it was a small token of his appreciation. I refused but he insisted. And for a brief second as he insisted he gave me that look that I had gotten so accustomed to when I didn't really know his when he rode my bus. I knew that he meant it so I held on to it and at that moment his wife broke out with the most joyous laugh and told me that I need to go out and eat up all of the Sushi that I could possibly stuff down because she heard about my love for Japanese food through her husband!
He apologized to her in front of me for calling her the "B-word" out of frustration and gave her the biggest hug and kiss right there at the bus station while his brand new truck idled in the background. It's funny, the same location where he would board my bus while being so sad and depressed was the same location that now had as much joy for them as any two newlyweds that I had ever witnessed on there wedding day! I was so happy for them as they walked over to their personal love chariot, and as he closed the door behind her and began to walk over to the drivers side his truck he motioned to me with a "thumbs up" sign and I can see the tears of joy rolling down his face under the street lights that let me know he was truly a happy man.......
I returned the thumbs up gesture to him while I smiled as tears of my own streamed freely down my face in a moment where I truly felt so good for the time I had spent with him. It made a difference. And I really understood at that very moment what we as human beings are to do for one another while we are alive and well on this earth. No more wasted energy on the frivolous endeavors for me, my fellow man needs me and now as I find myself advancing up in my years spent on this planet, live appears so different to me as I see things in a much different light. If only most of us would have such an experience we ALL could look forward to this planet that we call home to being a better place to live.
Never turn away anyone who reaches out to you in a time of need, you may find that the way you treat them may be the very thing that tips the scales in favor of them healing up a situation that might otherwise have gone to the pits. Please share this story with someone, it might make a difference whether we know it or not.