Sunday, December 11, 2011

BUS STORY # 266 (Collision)

DSC_2320 by helifino
DSC_2320, a photo by helifino on Flickr.

The Red Line has just shut the door at the Louisiana-Central bus stop. The driver starts forward.

I am on the driver’s side, looking straight out the front windshield, when I see a car go cutting straight across the front of the bus.

I’ve seen this maneuver before. Mostly, it’s been at intersections. The bus will be sitting at a red light in the outside lane. When the light turns green, the car waiting in the lane next to the bus guns its engine and blasts a right turn in front of the bus.

Once it was in moving traffic. (You can read that story here.)

This time, it’s a driver who thought he -- or she, as it turns out -- could make the parking lot of the CVS pharmacy faster than the bus could get going.

I feel the bus shudder hard to a stop. I can’t tell if we hit the car or the curb or it was just the hard braking we were feeling.

The car pulls into the parking lot and stops.

Nobody gets out of the car at first.

The driver is already on the phone.

He seems pretty calm. At least, his voice is quiet,

While he’s making the call, a figure emerges from the driver’s side. It’s getting dark, and our bus is wrapped, but I can make out a large woman in a white shirt. She comes around the front of her car and slowly walks past the passenger side, bent over in inspection mode. She stops at the right back wheel and spends some stooped-over time there.

Then she straightens up, gets back in the car, and drives off!

Now the driver’s voice goes up a few decibels.

A couple of riders get up and move tentatively to the front door. They look like they’re more interested in getting off the bus than in listening in to the conversation.

After a while, the driver gets off the phone, grabs two red caution triangles, and heads out to the back of the bus. We get off and wander to the front of the bus to check out the damage.

Damage looks minor. The bus rack has taken a hit. A couple of pieces of it are lying in the street in front of the bus. One of our riders is lucky. Unlike the bike in the photo at the top of this story, his bike was in the row closest to the bus and looks OK.

The driver heads for the drug store. We can see from the bus stop arrival signage that the next Red Line is nine minutes away.

One of our riders takes off north up Louisiana. The rest of us are still milling around by the front door.

It isn’t long before we see the driver walking rapidly back to the bus.

“She’s right here, in the parking lot,” he calls to us. “I got her license plate number.”

He calls in the information. When he’s done, he tells us the next Red Line should be here shortly, as well as the 157.

I ask him if he needs a witness.

Well, sure, if that’s what I really want to do.

He pulls out a notebook and I write my name and phone number.

I am remembering the last time I did this as I am writing in the notebook. It was in New York City, and I could tell by the reactions of every single person around me that I had just hung a big neon sign on myself that blinked out alternating messages: “TOURIST!” Then, “FROM THE STICKS!”

As I did then, I tell myself I’m doing the right thing, and I hope this is not another one of those good deeds that doesn’t go unpunished.

One of the riders spots the 157. We all head over to the bus stop and board there.

I get off at Louisiana and savor the treat of being able to get off on the southeast corner rather than the northeast where the Rapid stops. I don’t have to cross back over the intersection to get to my bus stop.

I’m sitting on the bench wondering if I’ve just missed my connection, and if it’s late enough that the schedule has switched from every 20 minutes to every 40 minutes, and how much longer I’ll be out here.

A few minutes later, the rider who’d headed north up Louisiana rounds the corner, sees me, and starts laughing.

“You beat me.”

We talk about what happened, and a few minutes later, we see the Lomas bus coming.

It occurs to me that, since we haven’t seen the Red Line yet, and they run 20 minutes apart, this may very well be the same bus we would have caught if our bus hadn’t been in a collision.

As I write this, it’s too early to tell if I’m gonna get a call from anyone. Stay tuned.

The photo at the top of this story is “DSC_2320,” © All Rights Reserved, and is posted with the kind permission of helifino. You can see this and all helifino’s photos on Flickr at:


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