Thursday, November 17, 2005

ask not for whom the bus stops

One morning a few weeks ago, a woman here was hit by a bus as she was crossing the street at a perfectly ordinary intersection near where I live. Supposedly it was completely her fault--she just stepped out in front of it. I don't know how badly she was injured, or even if she survived. Regardless, my thought was: what kind of moron gets hit by a bus? Buses are, after all, quite conspicuous and travel more slowly than the median motor vehicle. I wondered if maybe she was mentally ill, or maybe it was a suicide attempt, or maybe she was a highly-driven Harvard supergenius who was so absorbed in her ideas about making nuclear fusion from maple syrup that she was just oblivious.

Late this afternoon, during my run, I almost got hit by a bus. Same freaking intersection, maybe, or no more than a block away from it. I looked to my right, and I saw a bus coming but not too close. I looked to my left, and there was a car coming but not too close. So, still looking to the left, I took a couple strides to bound through the intersection. Then I glanced back to the right, and the bus was RIGHT THERE. It's like somebody put the bus on superfastforward while I was looking to my left. So now I'm wondering if there's some kind of optical illusion under which the Cambridge buses look farther away than they are.

6 comments:

Teddy said...

EEEeeeek! OK, long comment. It's scary bus story week ... I was too ashamed to say what happened to me on Monday until reading this post (OK, well maybe I should still be ashamed--but read on) for I too was nearly hit by a bus, a really, large, lumbering bus. There I was at State and Gorham, totally distracted by whirring thoughts (however, NOT supergenius ones, to be sure) so I looked right, waited for the bus which was traveling west down State St. to pass, then stepped off the curb WITHOUT LOOKING TO MY LEFT!!! Then, time/space sort of folded in upon itself as I simultaneously: 1) came nearly nose to nose with an east-bound bus; 2) sucked in my breath; 3)jumped back on the curb; 4)exhaled, shaking, adrenaline pumping, thinking (now?!), wtf?? Yes, buses are like buffalo, which also charged me once ... much faster than they look ... well, uhm, assuming that you look before you leap ... which we all know I often do not do ... will work on that.

Tom Volscho said...

I don't think JF is going out like that...not a bus!

Rhymes With Scrabble said...

Great, now I'm worried about getting hit by a bus. My peripheral vision is terrible in the winter, what with all my giant scarves. I'm assuming you weren't wearing a scarf while running. I'm doomed.

Anonymous said...

... or maybe you were fantasizing maple syrup stories about people you feel — what? not superior to I hope.. Or maybe you're just an ordinary human being and Cambridge buses are just that: buses.

Be careful.
Joel

brady said...

At least you'd be in good company, if we are willing to concede that the difference between being smooshed by a bus and by a laundry van is not so significant as to keep you and Roland Barthes out of the same "Academics flattened by big vehicles" club.

Annie B said...

Be careful, oh amazing one! I need you to keep me company in the bottom-feeders perch of Rob's football pool.
Have you thought of joining a gym and running on a treadmill? Easier on your knees, and your Shuffle won't freeze to your ears this winter.