Sunday, October 12, 2008

BUS STORY # 103 (The Bump)

I’d heard other riders’ random stories over the past two-plus years, but I didn’t have my very own bus accident story until one afternoon on the way home.

I’d just boarded the eastbound No. 11 at Lomas and Wyoming and had settled into my seat when I felt a bump and heard what I thought were the air brakes releasing. I had no sense at all of anything being amiss until I saw the driver get out of his seat and exit the bus. I tracked him through the windows as he walked all the way to the back, and I saw him give the rear end a good look.

All but one of the other boarders had gotten to their seats. The last guy was still at the till when the bump occurred. He wandered to the middle of the bus, then wandered back to the front and out the door, then back to where the driver was.

Speculation rippled through the bus. “I think we’ve been rear-ended.”

The driver returned and we heard him call in that we’d been hit from behind. After he got off the phone, he turned to us and asked if anyone had been hurt by “that little bump.”

There was a rider a few rows in front of me -- young guy, maybe late 20s or early 30s. Hair in a short ponytail. Black T-shirt. He told the driver he wouldn’t know until tomorrow – maybe he’d end up with whiplash.

We laughed along with the driver. We thought he was kidding. Then he asked if the other driver was insured.

Our driver didn’t know. All he wanted to know right now was if anybody was hurt.

The rider persisted with wanting to know about the other driver’s insurance. He’d been through this drill before, and the driver who’d hit the bus was uninsured and ABQ RIDE assumed no responsibility.

The driver explained he needed to get information from the other driver. He told the rest of us we should probably exit his bus and wait for the next one.

Except for our would-be litigant, we exited the bus. We all did the same thing: walked to the back of the bus to see what we could see before reversing course and crossing the street to the stop east of Wyoming.

I saw a red Lincoln Navigator, empty, very close to, but not touching, the back of the bus. I couldn’t see any damage to either the back end of the bus or the front end of the Navigator.

Apparently, there was a second collision as well. Parked behind the Navigator, also empty, was a white Eagle. Again, I saw no damage to either the back end of the Navigator or the front end of the Eagle.

I saw a young kid sitting by the sidewalk and looking very discouraged. I didn’t see anyone else who might be the second driver, and I couldn’t tell which car the kid belonged to.

I also saw the last boarder, standing just off the sidewalk and writing on a piece of paper. Maybe he was taking license plate numbers. Or maybe he was writing his own bus story.

We shuffled on over toward the Wyoming intersection. A couple of girls getting off the bus in front of me were saying, Can you believe that guy? All he wants is the money.

“That guy” was the rider who was wanting to know if the driver of the Navigator was insured. Apparently he was, the girls told us. So our co-rider was wanting to file a claim and get his name on the police report. What a jerk, they concluded. The discussion persisted as we crossed the street, mostly about how there was hardly any impact at all.

At the east side stop, I saw a rider who’d been on the bus with me the previous week when we’d been hit by a rock near Skateboard Park.

“It’s always interesting on this ride home, isn’t it?”

He laughed and nodded, and we wondered what adventure lay in store for us the coming week.

There must have been 20 people at the stop when the next bus arrived. Amazingly, no one had to stand. I was wondering why it was so empty when one of the riders said he thought this bus should only be at Louisiana by now. Then I wondered if ABQ RIDE had sent out a bus to replace our old one. Made sense then, and makes sense now.

Before we reached Juan Tabo, a red city ambulance went screaming past us. It stopped several blocks ahead of us, and we saw other lights flashing. The bus slowed and entered the single file going around the accident. I saw the ambulance, then a fire truck, and between them, a police car. Then I saw a motorcycle over on its side and two cars pulled over ahead of it.

A murmer ran through the bus. Ooooh, a motorcycle . . .

I imagined the rider roaring past our parked, rear-ended bus some 20 minutes earlier, seeing us milling around outside, and thinking how glad he was not to be stuck on the bus this glorious autumn afternoon.


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