Clark April 16th, 2007
Living in a big city again there is a certain novelty to riding the subway, trains, and busses. This novelty wears off quickly. Today I was actually eaten by a bus. The doors pinched closed on me, and the bus sped away like a shark with its prey.
First of all, what an idiot I am. Public transport is made for the lowest common denominator. It’s all very simple: You step on the bus; you step off the bus. Octogenarians ride every day without incident. Millions of people ride the Buenos Aires public transport system, and few get stuck in the doors.
As you can imagine, I was the last one off the bus, following three people out the mid-bus doors. The lady in front of me wasn’t very spry. By the time she got out, I was in harm’s way, the doors closed on me as the bus sped away. It wasn’t like elevator doors that sense you’re there and release. I got the full force of some kind of hydraulic ram. It clamped onto my left arm, my left foot, and my backpack. My foot hurt and I was humiliated, being the focus of so much attention in such a ridiculous spot, yet being ignored by the one person who really mattered, the driver.
The people were definitely on my side. There was an uproar of commuter indignation against the tyranny of the bus driver, but what the crowd had in motivation, it lacked in organization. It was a very crowded bus—standing room only—and the message passed badly from the site of the smashed man to the driver. Some people were saying ‘mochila,’ backpack, and the driver probably thought it was just a pinched backpack–all in a days work–and that it could wait until the next stop. Others were trying to yell that it was my backpack AND MY WHOLE BODY…STOP THE BUS! But the bastard charged all the way to the next stop, putting me a full three blocks beyond my destination.
I freed my foot first, since it was smashed against some kind of sharp bolt. Then, with some effort, I got my arm free. The doors kept getting tighter the whole time. You give those doors an inch, they take a mile. My backpack ended up hopelessly trapped.
The bus stopped, the doors freed my backpack, and I got off, embarrassed and shaking my head. I felt my arm and it had sort of bleeding contusion. My first regret was that I should have got the bus number to call and complain, but then again, this isn’t California. With Buenos Aires I was definitely beyond the honeymoon phase.