Thursday, March 03, 2005

Bus #65, where are you?

Have you ever been on a bus that suddenly blew a flat tire?

My usual quiet morning time - sitting at the back of the bus, like all the cool kids do, and thumbing through a newspaper - was abruptly jolted by a loud bang. People jumped off the bench across from me, as dirt and dust rose up from underneath the seats. It was like smoke from a gunshot. My ears were ringing from the noise. The bus slowly came to a stop and the poor student bus driver sheepishly got out of his seat, quickly looked back at the rest of us, and then went outside to see what had happened.

I briefly tried to go back to reading my newspaper, but the guy next to me wanted to talk. "Holy $#!%, what was that? Was that a flat tire?" I just shrugged my shoulders. That seemed like a safe guess. Either that, or we ran over a stick of dynamite, judging from the "BOOM!"

(My other theory was that we weren't going fast enough, like in the movie "Speed," and that triggered a bomb. If that were the case, however, Iowa City's Dennis Hopper character set that fuse at 25 miles an hour. These campus buses rarely go faster than 40 mph. But would Dennis Hopper really have gotten much ransom for blowing up a bunch of students? If I were the Iowa City police department, I'd just figure that more students were coming next year and chalk this one up as an acceptable casualty.)

Anyway, since quietly reading was now out of the question, I acted like a responsible citizen and peered out the window to see what the hell the driver was doing.

He got down on his stomach to look for any damage. Apparently, nothing was dragging on the pavement. No large animal carcasses were trapped underneath. Then he did what I would've done: stood up, put his hands on his hips , and stared at the bus for a while. Next, he kicked the back tire. That was followed by putting his hands on top of his head as he noticed all of the traffic backed up behind the bus, thinking it was just making a stop.

And that's when another loud pop shook the bus. Did another tire blow out? Did an air brake give out? Do I even know what the hell I'm talking about? That got everyone the hell off the bus. I don't know why we didn't get off before. Who would've wanted the driver to start moving the bus again after all the fireworks? Well, maybe that kid who wants perfect attendance in his class. Nerd-o.

At this point, the bus driver finally decided to call into the main terminal and ask for some help. Easy for me to say, sitting in back of the bus and wondering whether to order Chinese food or pizza for dinner tonight, but that would've been the first thing I did. There was a loud explosion. The bus shook. When he tried to move forward again, the back tire rattled like something on Fred Flintstone's car. Cambus #65 had a bad paw.

About 15 minutes later, another bus picked us stragglers up. And now I know where my priorities have shifted over the past few months. What was I thinking about while standing on the sidewalk with a bunch of people, like we'd made some kind of pit stop? Not "Will I miss my meeting?" or "Will I be late for class?" Not "Heavens-to-murgatroid, how will the ripples of this accident affect the fragile nature of the bus schedule throughout the University of Iowa campus?" I wasn't even thinking, "Hey, this is a chance to talk to that quirky art-chick that usually gets on the bus two stops after me." You know what I was thinking, people. "I'm sooo gonna blog about this."