Yesterday, I was almost hit by a little bus on my way in to the office. I wasn’t even jaywalking at the time. Instead, I absent-mindedly decided to cross the street when it was not, in fact, OK to do so.
I guess you might say my signals got crossed. I looked at the green light and thought, “Green means go.” Which is totally and completely true if you’re driving a car. I was not driving a car. I was walking.
I was halfway across one street when I realized what I had done. The cars began to lurch forward at me; annoyed I was standing in there. I had two options: I could continue across by running and hope that the third lane wasn’t hiding a moving car, or I could walk back to the curb where I had come from. I decided to walk back to the curb where I had come from. It was at that very moment where the little bus began to move. I thought it would stop as soon as it saw me. It did not stop. It continued on until it came so close, I felt it against my shoulder.
A few things when through my mind at this point, and I’m not quite sure in what order they came because it all happened so fast. But here they are in no particular order.
“I’m going to die.”
“A little bus is going to kill me”
“Why is this guy not stopping?”
“I am stupid.”
Perhaps the weirdest thought, and the most shameful one, and, incidentally, the one I feel most shameful about having thought was:
“Strangers are going to laugh about how you died when they read about it in the paper.”
Finally, he saw me, but it was only after I had returned to the curb. Terror turned into relief and then immediately relief turned into shame. A young man stood on the curb next to me. He said something. I am unsure what that was. Using that lever I watched get pulled time and time again on hundreds of school buses all along the Eastern seaboard, the bus driver opened the bus door. He began screaming obscenities at me. The little bus driver was yelling obscenities at me. And then the kids on the little bus stood up, moved to the side of the bus I was on. They began to gawk. The little bus driver was screaming at me. The boy on the corner was talking to me in an accent I could not place. And a bunch of little kids on the little bus were collectively staring at me. Some of them were laughing.
I wasn’t sure what to do and so I lifted my hand and held it flat against the sky in the direction of the little bus driver. I figured that if I couldn’t see him, the sound of his voice would stop. The boy on the curb next to me said something else I couldn’t understand.
“I admit, I screwed up but what does he want me to do about that now?” I asked the boy next to me. He stared at me and finally said nothing. I suppose the bus driver got whatever anger out of his system through whatever angry words, because finally he did his best at slamming the door and continued on down the street.
Like one might wear sunburn after an eventful day spent under the sun, I wore my shame and stupidity all day long. And even last night as I lay down to sleep near no cars, or curbs, or crying bus drivers, I kept replaying it over and over again in my head each and every time being run over by the bus, each and every time differently.
Do we do this to ourselves to avoid being killed in the future? Because I was hit and killed 250 different times yesterday by a little bus that came close to killing me once.