Missing the School Bus
I shared a story earlier called “Lost and Alone” https://lightenload.wordpress.com/2012/10/13/lost-and-alone/where as an eight year old kid I missed the bus. Obviously it was a frightening situation as I was so young and stranded. Coincidentally a school bus was part of my life again the other morning but for a different reason.
I think it is routine for us to say “see you later” as we head out the door. We say it so frequently it is almost out of habit. We never really think about the fact that we cannot predict the future. It was an ordinary morning as I scrambled out of the house and into my car. I’m driving a different car these days as you may know if you have been reading along. My 1991 Olds Cierra died a couple of months ago. I’m now driving a 2002 Chrysler Concorde. Compared to the Olds this is a modern high tech car! Anyway as I was looking to make the merge onto Parkview which is the main road from my street I noticed that traffic was heavy. Having to make a left turn it took an extra long time. Finally there was an opening and I was able to get out. My normal way to work is to take the back roads. It’s a short cut that is a couple of minutes faster. I noticed as I turned on to the back roads that they were slick. I made sure I was extra careful navigating. I take a left on a road named Wellington and follow that road all the way around to Broadway. Wellington kind of winds around to Broadway which is a little busier but most of the time has very little traffic. At the end of Wellington there is a short drop. It is not a steep drop but just enough so you could take your foot off of the accelerator and coast down. I was driving very carefully yet when I applied the brakes going down the small slope I went into a skid. The only thing I could do was to try to pump the brakes which was ineffective. Since I was coming up on the intersection I pushed the horn and kept it on.
My luck seemed to be getting worse as I went. As I was skidding and pumping my brakes frantically a bus was heading down Broadway seemingly right into my path. I started yelling at the bus as I was still pumping my brakes, “GO GO GO”. I saw the big yellow bus that at that point seemed thirty feet long slowly moving in front of me like a slow train on a track.
I don’t know if there were kids on the bus but if there were I wonder what they thought as they looked up the slope and saw and heard a car out of control with it’s horn sounding. I wonder if their everyday routine turned to fear like mine did. Maybe they were busy talking to their friend on the seat next to them and the sound seemed like normal everyday traffic. Maybe they didn’t realize the danger they were in. I have my doubts as to if the bus driver realized what was happening. She seemed to be driving the same slow pace. Her mind was probably on navigating the bus in less than ideal conditions.
As I reflect on the situation the only thing I could have done different that would have made my ride safer was to have taken a different route to work. The main roads usually get the attention of the road workers far faster than the side roads. The other reflection that I have is how fast things can change. One minute I’m routinely going to work and the next minute I’m in the midst of a major accident.
If things were not bad enough another car was winding around Broadway maybe thirty yards behind the bus. Winding around Broadway it is hard to see traffic from the side road until you are almost on it. I wonder if they heard the sounds of my stressful horn? Everything happened so fast and yet it all seemed to be in slow motion.
As I’m skidding down the slope yelling at the bus to go and my horn blaring the bus makes it past the intersection just as I entered it! I missed the bus by maybe five feet! The other person must have realized the danger I was in as they stopped their car! It was fortunate that they were alert and that they were able to stop! As you can imagine my heart was in my throat and I was still shaking as I told the story at work.
Looking back I think about what could have happened. My car could have been seriously mangled. Worse yet I could have been seriously hurt or killed. Remember when I said that traffic was unusually heavy as I was getting onto the main street? How different it might have been if I had been able to turn only a few seconds earlier. Maybe I would have skidded directly in front of the bus. Having a bus hit the side of my car with the force and weight a bus brings probably means the end of me in this life. Isn’t it strange when you think about it? Our lives are literally on a string. Sometimes a few seconds either way makes a big difference. Not only was my life effected but how about the lives of the people on that bus? I can almost hear the driver telling an officer “I couldn’t do anything”. “That car was out of control sliding down that slope and slid right out in front of me”. Ironic about the two incidences involving me and buses so many years apart. The first one saw me very sad because I had missed the bus, while this time I was very glad I did. Although this experience is behind me it is now a part of me. I don’t think I’ll be saying “see you later” so casually anymore.