Who Hits a Bus Mirror?

I do, apparently.

I was driving downtown yesterday and it was crazy. I don’t know if it was the full moon from the night before or what, but people were nuts. I nearly got cut off several times in I-35 (you Texans will surely shudder at the sheer thought of that detested highway). I was preoccupied with trying to keep an eye on all the other drivers around me when I heard a THUMP.

My heart sank. “Was that me?” I said, dismayed, and looked into my rear view mirror. The thump was too small to have been a person, I knew that for sure. There was a bus in the lane adjacent to me – could I have hit something on it? My first thought was that I had clipped its mirror. I didn’t see any damage to the bus, but then I saw the bus driver splay his hands in gesture that clearly read, “What the hell was that?” “SHIT,” I groaned. I decided to pull over – even though I didn’t see any damage to the bus, I didn’t want to be accused of running from anything, even as minor as this.

I pulled over into the adjacent bus lane, which was awkward, because I could tell that the buses had to go out of their way not to hit me as they pulled into their stop. My heart was pounding wildly, and it quickened another 200 beats per minute when I saw the bus driver exit and walk towards my car. Up until this point, my brain had been trying to reassure the rest of my body that maybe it was all a big mistake. My brain gave up as the bus driver walked towards me. He was an older man, in his sixties, and looked gruff. He had the hint of a smile as he approached me. Perhaps he saw the various scratches and dents on my car and thought, Ah, it all makes sense now.

“Were you the one who hit my mirror?” he said. “Um, I think so,” I squeaked nervously. “Is everything okay?” “Yeah, everything is okay with me if it’s okay with you,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong…?” For some reason, I had problems formulating coherent sentences, mainly one that said, “SO DID I DAMAGE YOUR MIRROR AFTER I HIT IT?” “There’s no damage. We’re good.” “Oh, okay,” I said, and then he turned around and walked back on the bus.

I stood there for a moment, wondering if I had done the right thing. I had been trained to call the police in the event of a traffic accident, even for a simple fender bender. But even I knew that calling the police would be incredibly ridiculous in this situation. So I went back in my truck and wrote down the license plate number of the bus, the bus number, and description of the driver. I also noted the date and time we talked, as well as the details of our conversation. The paranoid part of me wanted to prepare for the worst – if the driver returned to his station, discovered that the mirror was scratched, and then wanted to get me in trouble for it, I would have documentation showing that I’d done the right thing.

I dreaded telling my parents about this, but ever since I was a kid, I’ve had this compulsive need to confess when I’ve done something wrong or stupid – I call it the Perpetual Guilt of the Oldest Child. I called my brother first. (“Don’t tell Mom and Dad,” I warned him. “I won’t,” he said, “since you will anyway.” “Yeah, you’re right,” I sighed.) I spent the rest of the afternoon in anger and annoyance at myself. How could I have not seen the bus mirror? I don’t know. There’s a chance that the bus was outside of its lane as it waited for passengers – this does happen frequently downtown. Or perhaps I was skirting too closely to the edge of my own lane.

Either way, I clipped the mirror, and I was not happy about it. I bought PJ Harvey’s Dry album and cranked it on the way home. It was cathartic and I felt a little better as the afternoon continued. By the time my mother called in the evening, I felt good enough about the incident to talk about it. She had a worried, almost nervous reaction to it (“You need to be careful, hehehe. But seriously, be careful.”) But my father, who heard about it in the background, was more forthcoming.

“Damn it, girl!” he said. “Get a bike. Or start walking everywhere.”

My father says I’m the only person he has ever known to get into so many car-related incidents. I helpfully brought up that maybe it’s because I drive a lot – isn’t it simply a matter of statistics, that the more you drive around, the more likely you are to get into an incident? I’ve managed to get myself into various incidents with inanimate objects (mainly parking garage pillars), but of the three accidents I’ve been in that have involved other vehicles, only one was my fault.

What I do know is that I don’t want to hear that dreaded THUMP sound for awhile.  Preferably ever.

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7 thoughts on “Who Hits a Bus Mirror?

  1. I worked for a company in Chicago that had me driving out to all points in the Midwest United States at any time of night or day. I recall just getting off a 40 hour, 5 state stint, going home, sleeping for 16 hours straight, getting back up and hitting the road again. I was on my way to Iowa at 3:00 in the morning and leaned my head against the driver’s window of my truck. Next thing I knew, I heard the same thump you described and jerked my head up. I’d fallen asleep at the wheel and fortunately had clipped my mirror on one of the ubiquitous road repair cones. Scared the bejeebers out of me and I was wide awake the whole rest of the trip.

      • I logged over a million miles on that job. Lots of driving. I used to leave my house at midnight, drive to the middle of Iowa, arrive at 6 in the morning, then work 12-16 hours there and drive home. After which I’d sleep for 12 or 16 hours. Made for full days indeed, but the money was great. Was making like $3k a week!

      • That’s impressive! And here I was complaining about working a full day and having only to drive 3 hours to and from the field location.

  2. Maybe you could put ads on your blog pages and slowly build up a bike fund! 😛

    Just kidding. Shit happens! I’m glad the bus guy wasn’t a complete ass about it. I bet he was surprised you even stopped. Maybe that’s why he was “ok” with it. (After all, it’s not *his* bus, lol.)

    I also feel the need to confess my sins to the parentals! It makes me feel so lame, but when I do something stupid and/or bad… I have to confess! And I never feel 100% better about it until it comes out to the momma and poppa.

    • Haha, I like the bike fund idea :p

      You know, I didn’t think of that…I am just so OCD that if I didn’t stop, I would have somehow convinced myself that I broke the mirror and maybe even mowed down a person, and then would have been guilt-ridden for the next 30 years.

      Lol I’m SO glad I’m not the only one who feels better after confessing! See, see! The Guilt of the Oldest Child! It is a curse :p

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