Beach walk

The conference was over, and Katie and I had a Sunday morning to ourselves in “Miami Beach.”:http://www.visitmiamibeach.us/mrmiamibeach/home.jsp

We had found a “church”:http://calvarymiamibeach.org/ in the phone book and called our son Christian in Chicago, who checked it out on the internet.

It had been a great four days at the annual convention of the “National Communication Association”:http://www.natcom.org/Convention/default.htm I had been back and forth to the conference hotel, about a half mile from our own on the two miles of boardwalk. One day we walked 60 blocks.

Saturday night after dinner we had watched a man building “sand castles,”:http://miamibeachsandcastle.com/ but Sunday morning we had already gone down on the beach to watch the sunrise.

After the early service we were going to have a long leisurely brunch at the Front Porch, sitting outside with a view of the ocean before picking up our luggage and heading out to the airport.

There had been some complications checking out of the hotel, and it was about fifteen minutes before the service began. The church was about twenty blocks, so we hopped on the first “Metrobus,”:http://www.co.miami-dade.fl.us/transit/metrobus/info.htm not even sure if it would take us where we were going. But it would get us closer, and, quite frankly, I was tired of walking.

Before we even sat down beside her, the lady said “I don’t like to walk.” She was wearing a plaid skirt and stripped sweater. Something like that. A knit cap, I think. Dirty, pulled threads. It’s hard to remember.

“I don’t like to walk,” she said again. I don’t either, I thought, and nodded understandingly. But then she said it again, several times. And we nodded and affirmed her until it became clear it didn’t matter what we did or said.

In the meantime, across the aisle, a young man in his twenty, and also somewhat disheveled, was avoiding eye contact and murmuring in a soft, continuous loop.

“Good evening ladies and gentlemen, “he said. “I don’t want to alarm you or frighten you, or make you mad in anyway, but I am looking for a dollar to buy a salad at Wendy’s or any other form of nourishment.”

There was more to his pitch, but it was hard to hear, because that is when the rear bumper of the bus hit a steel safety railing beside the bay, and ground to a halt. The driver backed up and pulled out again, but the wheel was jammed. We weren’t going anywhere.

Immediately the lady said, very loudly, “My grandmother told me my life was worth more than this.” She followed the driver out of the bus and then stepped back inside to announce “I don’t want to go to the antique show.”

She sat back down. “I don’t like to walk,” she said.

“I don’t want to alarm you or frighten you,” the young man said.

“I don’t like to walk,” she said.” She paused and added, “I don’t want to go to the antique show.”

She got up again, clearly agitated, and got off the bus, followed by about twelve other people. They stood around and watched the driver for a while and all got back on the bus, followed by the driver. He said we should all get off and get on the next bus, which had already pulled up behind us.

So they all got off the bus again, and so did we.

The second bus was half full, but we ended up in about the same seating configuration. As soon as she sat down she asked, “Do you think this will be in the paper?”

“No,” said another gentleman, next to the young man. “He’ll just report it to his supervisor.

“My grandmother said my life was worth more than this,” she said.

“I don’t want to alarm you or frighten you, or make you mad in anyway, but I am looking for a dollar to buy a salad at Wendy’s or any other form of nourishment.,” said the young man, who was still sitting directly across from us.

“Why won’t it be in the papers?” she asked. “My grandmother said my life was worth more than this.”

“I don’t want to alarm you or frighten you,” the young man said, droning on.

The bus stopped and picked up a middle-aged black man wearing a heavy winter coat. It was 85 degrees outside.

The woman immediately began to tell him about the accident.

“It’s not the driver’s fault,” he said, very loudly. He began yelling at the woman, and assuring the driver of his competence. It was a different driver, but that didn’t seem to matter. He was very agitated and expansive, waving his arms in large gestures. Yelling at the whole bus, he scolded us for being hard on the bus driver, who was just doing his job.

“I don’t want to alarm you or frighten you,” the young man said, droning on.

“I don’t like to walk,” said the woman.

“If you want to take it out on someone, just come up here and slap my face,” yelled the man with the winter coat. Then he began slapping his own face, with both hands, rapidly and forcefully.

I pulled the cord, and Katie and I got off at the next corner.

We still had several blocks to go.

“I like to walk,” I said.

She smiled, and we took off down the road, following the bus which turned the corner and went directly by the church.

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About wally metts

Wally Metts is the daysman. He is director of graduate studies in communication at Spring Arbor University and is a pastor at Countryside Bible Church in Jonesville, MI. The father of four adult children, he and his wife Katie raise barn cats and Christmas trees in Michigan. His grandchildren call him Santa.

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