Saturday, February 04, 2012

Super Shuttle Lady

A few weeks ago, I flew to Miami, Florida to attend an event sponsored by the University of Miami. All the event participants were instructed upon arriving at Miami International Airport to use the Super Shuttle van service from the airport to our hotel because it was prepaid by the university. So, as I exited the airport, I followed the signs for "Ground Transportation," made my way outside and followed the signs for the Super Shuttle. What is the Super Shuttle? It's a shared van service that takes passengers to various destinations (i.e. hotels, private residences, etc.). The problem with the Super Shuttle is that it can take awhile to get to one's destination if there are many people on the van. So, I lined up behind the other passengers and prepared to tell the woman working the Super Shuttle kiosk my destination. While in line, I was beginning to get hot, I had on a fleece, a sweater, and a t-shirt. As I began taking off my fleece and then my sweater, I heard this clear, raspy voice from the direction of the kiosk as my head was inside my sweater say, "Baby, if I knew you were going to be taking off your clothes I would have broken out my dollar bills." As I took my head out of my sweater, now just wearing my t-shirt, I looked in the direction of the kiosk and I saw the Super Shuttle Lady sporting a mischievous smile, which revealed some gold teeth, and she was trying to conceal a laugh. Not missing a beat, I looked at the lady and replied, "Baby, I'm worth more than a dollar." She countered, "Baby, believe me, I would give you more than one." I loved her reply and I couldn't stop laughing. This was  my introduction to the Super Shuttle Lady and my welcome back to the U.S. It felt great to be back!

Then, for the next 30 minutes or so, I enjoyed watching the Super Shuttle Lady in action. Her office: A kiosk the size of a phone booth with no chair. Her uniform: Dark blue pants, a bright yellow shirt, and light blue vinyl jacket with the words, "Super Shuttle" on the back. Her goal: To try and get all the passengers who approached her to their destinations as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Her mantra to everyone that approached was, "Baby (she called everyone "baby"), give me the zip code (if you know it) to where you want to go and I'll get you on a van."

There was a nervous looking Haitian man who pretty much only spoke Creole in line and the Lady compassionately reassured him, "Baby, I'm going to find you a Creole speaker, don't you worry." Then, a group of college age girls approached and the women honestly told them that it would be cheaper for the four of them to share a taxi, than to take the Super Shuttle. The girls thanked the Lady for her honesty and heeded her advice. There was a family who just arrived from Spain who had toddlers and they balked at the price of the Super Shuttle and the lady told them sternly, "Look, you don't have a car seat for your kids, you can't ride in a taxi in Florida without one for your children. The Super Shuttle is your only option." She castigated the van drivers for not picking up passengers in the designated areas and for taking too long for picking up passengers and she did all this while steadily chatting up and issuing tickets to new passengers. The Super Shuttle lady had a lot going on, but she was a model of efficiency, she was good at what she did, and one could tell that she took pride in what she did.

Unfortunately, no matter how efficient the Super Shuttle Lady was the van drivers were taking awhile to pick up some of the new passengers. There was a woman in front of me who had been waiting for a long time and none of the vans seemed to be going to her destination. Finally, the Super Shuttle Lady secured a van for her and she was off. Then, I was next. I had a meeting I needed to attend in about an hour, my hotel was a little ways away and I still had many things to do prior to the meeting. As I kept looking looking at my watch and watching Super Shuttle after Super Shuttle pass me by, the Super Shuttle Lady sensing my impatience would look at me and say, "Baby, just give me some more time, I'm trying to get you on a shuttle." As more Super Shuttles passed and ten more minutes elapsed, I looked at the Super Shuttle Lady and said, "I gotta go. I'm going to take a taxi." She replied, "I'm sorry, baby." I said, "Ma'am, that's alright. Thank you for all your efforts."

It felt good to be back, even it is was only for a couple of days.

1 comment:

Dick said...

Great story Ryan. You are definitely worth more than a dollar.