The lady boarding the trolley wants to know how long the ride takes. The driver doesn’t seem quite sure what she’s asking. The woman tries to clarify by asking how far the trolley travels. Finally, the driver explains that the trolley travels the beach and the trip takes about an hour.
The woman seems satisfied with this answer and she and her companion move toward the rear of the trolley. The beach travels past their oversized window as they talk about the trolley.
I don’t go out of my way to talk to people. I don’t like to think of myself as a social person, but on some level I must be at least a little social, because every time I ride the trolley, it seems, I find myself engrossed in a fellow rider. What’s their story? I wonder. Why are they on the trolley? In most cases, I ultimately find myself somehow drawn into conversations with strangers. Why? I want to know their story. I want that last piece of the puzzle for the possibilities chained together in my mind.
There are, quite possibly, thousands of reasons people ride the trolley. What I’ve learned – what I’m still figuring out – is that no two are alike, and no matter what scenario I try and build in my head, I’ll never be able to guess the real story.
There’s the lady who sneezes whenever anyone else does, who coughs when she hears coughing. There’s the couple gets off and on at different stops – every day. There’s the veteran who climbs on the bus with his walker to tour the different bars in the area. And, of course, there’s the man with the mullet (the hairstyle, not the fish, although I imagine the trolley drivers see that, too.)
Today I find myself listening to a brother and sister talking about the trolley. Her name is Pat; his name is Tom. They live in north Clearwater. They haven’t been in Florida long; they moved here for their ailing mother, who died last week. In their short time – only a few months – that they’ve been here, Pat’s heard about the trolley and wanted to ride it.
They share an apartment with their Jack Russell terrier, who has his first case of Florida fleas. While the dog stays at doggie day care, they’re having their apartment treated for fleas. The trolley serves two purposes: Pat gets to ride the trolley and the ride itself kills just enough time that they’ll be able to collect their dog and go back to their apartment when they finish the loop.
Pat came to the state for her mother’s sake, but with her mother gone Pat thinks about moving back to New Jersey. Tom will go live elsewhere in the state with another sister.
“I could probably have brought my fishing stuff on here,” Tom tells his sister.
“Maybe, but you probably would have gotten some funny looks,” she tells him.
Not really, I want to tell them. You see all kinds on the trolley – fishermen, window washers, boat captains, tourists, and families.
Every one of them has a story.