OK, first of all, I am absolutely fine (Mom-read my lips, I’m f-i-n-e) but I got into a bit of a car accident today. A pedestrian darted right into the street from in front of a bus and to avoid her I kind of swerved into the Metro bus. Technically, the bus was not moving at the time. My car is pretty bad, but the pedestrian is just fine—she went right along her merry way. So, it’s not exactly the way I wanted to spend my afternoon, or my money, but in the grand scheme of things it’s not the worst problem in the world.
I really (really) am an excellent driver, and in fact as far as I can remember have never hit anything that was moving. I mean, I’ve backed into a fire hydrant; side swiped parked cars and the like. And notoriously, as a teenager, I hit poles on either side of my car pulling out of a parking spot and ended up with identical dents on both sides of my car. Symmetry is good, right? Keep in mind, I was driving a 1976 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser station wagon the size of a bus, and I had backed into the space very carefully without incident, it was pulling out that apparently was trickier for me.
So the accident today wasn’t exactly a new experience for me. Did I mention that the bus was specially equipped to handle wheelchairs, and there were at least three wheelchair bound passengers trying to get on the bus when I hit it? And that it was really cold out and they had to wait for another bus? Yeah, so you know, there was that.
I apologized to everyone milling about, and people were surprisingly pleasant. And then I met the bus driver. He was perfectly good-natured when he asked what happened, and hung out with me while we waited for the police and the Metro accident people. Actually, he invited me to sit on the bus and stay warm. It was really lovely.
We started chatting and I learned about his incorrigible teenagers, how he liked working for Metro, where he was from; he asked me if my husband was going to be mad and offered to talk to him but I assured him it was fine. We bonded for sure, and when the accident information guy from Metro came along the driver introduced us and told him I was really nice and then that guy started calling me sweetie and told me not to worry about anything.
By the time the police officer got there we were practically having tea and scones on the bus and planning matching friendship tattoos, so it was a good vibe. The officer fit right in—I explained everything but the bus driver kept telling him I was just avoiding a pedestrian and hadn’t done anything wrong. Well no, he didn’t actually witness it, per se, but none of it was Jill’s fault (we were all on a first name basis at that point).
I guess the only depressing moment (other than when I saw the damage to the car) was when the officer asked me if my car was a 1997 or 1998. I told him it was a 2005, and he said it looked older. But I had just bashed the side in, so in all fairness I don’t think it was a good time to judge.
We hung out on the bus a while longer while the officer did all the paperwork. When he came on the bus he apologized for having to give me a citation and I said it was OK, he’s just doing his job after all. So he wrote up the most minor thing he could and fined me $25.
The officer told us we were all set, but I hung out with my Metro buddies for another minute on the bus. I went to shake the bus driver’s hand and he said no way, and pulled me in for a hug. It was one of those very nice big teddy bear hugs, and I told him it was so great to meet him and he said it was great to meet me and for a minute we kind of forgot what brought us together.
I offered to take the bus driver out to lunch next week and he said he’d love that, so there you have it. Not so bad for an interaction that started with me hitting a bus.