Thursday, July 22, 2010

just a few thoughts about buses and accidents

Just a quick one to say I was reading earlier today about the bus accident in Fresno. In the first few days and weeks after the accident in Romania the only thought I really ever had was just that I couldn't believe it happened. It was a crazy story, and in that sense it felt like it might not have happened to us. I don't think about it all that often anymore except maybe if I'm in a car and we run off the road a little. Or like today, reading that article. And I realize what could have happened and how it makes no sense that it didn't.

When I was in Madison, there were people at the national office who'd heard about it that summer. The joke was that we flipped in a mini-bus down an embankment and then I decided to go back. But not one week after that, another mini-bus in Romania was hit by a train and it was way worse.

Now I've been in some crazy situations to do with transportation in other countries: in Colombia the tour bus we were in lost traction in the back tires over the side of a cliff where I think they were doing some kind of construction. I don't know how to describe it but you could feel a small, short drop and hear the tires spinning on what I imagine was loose gravel or dirt. It was night time and I was looking out at the lights in the valley way down below and I remember having a sort passing thought about if we did go over the edge, with the spotlight on the bus, it might look like a plane falling out of the sky. We didn't go over. The wheels caught and we kept driving and only a few old people seemed the least bit shaken up. And then later on the trip we were in a Chiva (like a small bus without doors or windows)
that caught on fire while we were driving down the mountain. It turns out the brakes went out and then the whole back lit up and we had to pull off the road without brakes and jump from it (all of this in Spanish, mind you).

So I'm not afraid of riding a mini-bus again and I don't want to be the kind of person who says lots of bad things about transportation in other countries. It actually kind of bothers me when people do that. And honestly I really don't think about any of these all that often, even the one in Romania, but days like today when I read something like that article, it just all comes back. There's not even a way to describe it beyond that, just that suddenly it's back and there isn't any wondering if it really happened.
Most of the time, if it were to come up, it feels like just another crazy story in a list of really crazy stories I have from my life. But it's real on days like today.


  1. Hmm, I know exactly what you mean when you say it doesn't really seem real at all, until it does. I very rarely think about either accident I've been in, and when I do it's general just to make a brief comment or something. I tell the Canadian story, or just mention I was DD-ing 8 drunken people in a Blazer, or that I miss the Blue Falcon. It honestly seemed even less real during the actual event, I felt like I was watching it happen to someone else, somehow managing to make decisions on how they should proceed. The only time it ever really hit home was when I was sitting in the ER lobby waiting to see if I had hurt my friends. Now, as you know too well, I occasionally catch myself hesitating on left turns because they, for whatever reason, feel too similar, but that's about it. I'm an overly nervous driver as it is anyway though.

  2. i'm completely blanking on the canadian story--have you told me that one? and honestly, i don't blame you about the left turn thing. i know i'd be freaked out by it. i get super nervous on blobs now after that one time and i never, ever get scared about anything heights/jumping of things/extreme stuff related. but i just can't really blob anymore. so i understand. let's just hope you don't get in an accident in tunis (or in europe in the middle of a pride parade, for that matter ;) ).