November 17, 2005

Dead asleep on a snagged seat between commitments on a crowded bus when a sudden slam/slip/grab of brakes brought me abruptly fully awake and a woman from a front seat to somehow twist around and slam head-first into the metal farebox.

Others, still standing and clinging desperately onto poles and the top bar, managed -- just -- to retain their balance. Me, it only hurled against the stuffed-full bag resting against the seat in front of me: convenient cushion. The ambulance arrived within minutes ... considering that I had just been leaving from a hospital myself, it was not far at all. In the meantime passengers quickly offered basic first aid, cellphones, general comfort. On her own initiative and choice the woman who had fallen was just starting to get to her feet on her own but no further than to the seat: sharp headache (probably a light concussion) but no open injury, pain under her ribs suggesting possible sprain or possibly even a cracked rib, no neck or back injury: but wisely chose to accept the Roentgen nevertheless, just in case. Our bodies are amazingly resilient; and she, notwithstanding, was very lucky.

Not one person had seen anything. Really! Phones, chatting, general tiredness all around, in my case asleep. We all knew the outline of what had happened and it took only a few seconds for the details to traverse a hundred people and the length of the bus, four cars, impatient, quickly whipping around another trying to turn left and into the bus' lane, a fifth, who realised too late that there would not be enough space to cut off the bus -- and a bus driver who reacted barely in time to avert one accident, and so caused another.

No win for him, here: and it was outside my ability entirely to help him not lose. I wish I had seen something of it, but accident reports demand seeing, not simply knowing ... and in the end the only alteration to my day was that I was half an hour late to my meeting.

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