Back at Work

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Note:
This no longer has anything to do with the Belize trip and contains some graphic details which some might find disturbing. It's a reflection of my first day back at work after a wonderful 1 month vacation. Suffice it to say, my first day at work did not go well.


After an uneventful drive back home from Seattle yesterday, I promptly went back to work today. I was actually quite happy to be back behind the wheel of a bus and was feeling quite joyful driving in the sun. Then the skies blackened and the snow started falling. I burst out laughing as I was driving. Less than 48 hours earlier I had been in 38 degree temperatures in the glaring sun and now I had snow swirling around on the road. I simply couldn't believe how happy I was to actually be back at work. Everything was going perfectly well and I was in a very cheerful disposition. That all changed when a Honda Civic driven by an aggressive driver tangled with my bus and lost out in a big way.

Score
Bus: 1
Honda Civic: 0

This twit decided to cut in front of the bus, at a high rate of speed, in order to make a turn a very short distance in front of us, rather than pulling in behind the bus. It just boggles the mind watching the daily stupidity of the average driver out there. Why would one risk her life in order to gain less than 2 seconds in order to get home? I guess her favourite mindless TV show must have been on and she was willing to risk life and limb in order to not miss the beginning.

The area near her right rear wheel made contact with my front bumper. That nudged her little toy car sideways and I literally pushed her vehicle sideways down the road with my much heavier bus. I had locked up the brakes and left 15 foot skidmarks on the road. She was travelling so fast that her vehicle kept spinning, mounted the curb onto the grass and crashed backwards into a tree 60 feet from where I had come to a stop with the bus. It took me about 40 feet to stop the heavy bus with a good passenger load. So she would have spun out of control for about 100 feet, more if it hadn't been for the tree. Keep in mind that this is all on a city street with a 50km/h speed limit. Her trunk was bashed in about 18 inches. That's how fast she was going. She was damn lucky that she was going backwards or her injuries might have been more severe. Had it not been for the tree she would have probably spun right through the intersection and carried on for a while. Three passengers on my bus sustained minor injuries including one who had smacked her head against the farebox after she fell from the hard, sudden braking.

In a way it's fortunate, as ghoulish as it might sound, that we made contact. Otherwise the 3 injured passengers on my bus would be able to sue transit only. What usually happens is that someone cuts off the bus, the driver reacts to avoid a collision, passengers go flying and injure themselves, the other driver takes off since there was no contact, there is no time to take down a licence plate number, and transit gets sued and has to cough up the money. This way, the other driver was charged with making an unsafe lane change and her insurance rates will go up by 30% when it's time to renew her plates and insurance. Her car was also most likely totalled while the bus only had a few scuff marks on it. Please think twice about cutting off a large vehicle. It could cost you your life! Even if you don't give a rat's ass about your own life, think about the innocent victims you'll leave behind. I'm getting very tired of the idiots out there and I wish we had more police to focus on aggressive drivers so we can remove them from the road. I was asked if I felt anything for the other driver. In all honesty, I simply can't feel any sympathy for her. All I feel is anger that my passengers were injured through no fault of their own, that I have a sore back and neck, that my passengers and I had to experience that trauma including the blood on the bus. I also lost out on some overtime that I had volunteered for the next morning. Workers Compensation will not pay for that, only my average over the last 10 weeks. I'm certain that at least one of the injured passengers would also have lost at least one day of work as a result of her injuries.

I was standing beside the bus just shaking and shivering. The sight of the blood oozing from the woman's head, blood on the floor and the bloodstain on the farebox was a bit much. Of course the adrenalin was pumping and I was pretty irate to see the other driver immediately on her cellphone after the collision. I did not see her dial a number and it seems pretty obvious that she was on the phone when the collision happened, dropped the phone while spinning out and picked it up again after crashing into the tree. There is no way she could have fumbled for the phone, dialled a number in the few seconds after she stopped, all right after a traumatic experience like that.

My shift was over then and there. I am now off work for a few days to calm my nerves and to look after headaches, stiff neck, shoulders and back. I must have tensed right up when I slammed on the brakes. It was simply freaky to watch that Civic being pushed around and spinning away like some little toy. I had always known that this is how it would go if I hit a passenger vehicle, since the bus is simply that heavy. But to actually see it happening in slow motion right in front of me was quite a shock even though it's pretty much how I had pictured it.

Luckily none of the passengers suffered major injuries and the head injury simply looks a lot worse than it really is.

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