Before I start, I should clarify something. Despite the title of this post, I can’t say for sure that my eyesight is the reason for this event. It could have easily been my lack of attention as a child, too. Either way, this story is a good one to tell for two reasons. One, it shows that life is short. And two, it shows how important it is for you to pay extra close attention to your surroundings when you have a disability.
When I was a tiny little thing, all of four or five years old, I had a little fight at the bus stop. . . .
My older brother, age 13 or 14, and I were waiting at the end of our driveway on US Highway 59. Our bus would stop on the opposite side of the highway from our driveway, meaning the bus door opened to the other side of the road. To get on the bus we would have to cross the road and walk around the front of the bus. No big deal, right? Apparently that’s wrong!
We were one of the first bus stops of the morning, so we got on around 6:30 or maybe a little later. Here in Minnesota the sky is beginning to lighten, but the sun hasn’t made much of an appearance yet at the time of year this morning took place. It was certainly light enough to see cars on the road, see each other, and see all our surroundings. However, two people failed to see, or pay attention, this morning.
The bus came to a stop and opened the door, also causing the lit up stop sign to swing out from the side of the bus. This tells me I can cross the road and make my way onto the bus. That’s what we are taught anyway, right?
Well I did just that. Little did I see that a car was coming straight for me at high speed. The car was not slowing down. Either they didn’t see the bus, which doesn’t make sense to me since the bus was lit up and it wasn’t that dark out, or the driver simply was not paying attention. I had taken my first few steps out onto the road, putting me in front of the car, when my backpackwards. I felt like I was flying in the air back towards the side of the road and my brother. Landing on my rump, I looked towards the road and saw the car fly by right in front of me. I could swear I felt the whoosh of air as the car sped past. My bus driver laid on the horn and sent a shaking fist out the window at the driver.
My brother and I proceeded to get onto the bus and head to school. The driver reported the situation I assume because I had a nice chat with the folks when I got home. Rumors flew around this incident. I was told that the driver was going around 70 miles per hour. At that speed, I would have been roadkill. I also heard that the driver was a secretary or superintendent from a school one town over.
After that morning, the bus schedule was completely switched around so that we were one of the last stops in the country. This meant that the bus would stop on the side of the road nearest our driveway and that the door would open right up to our driveway. After school, however, we were one of the first stops again. Instead of stopping on the road, the bus would pull into our driveway to drop us off. I was supposed to follow new rules on how far back I had to stand to wait for the bus in the morning. The situation completely changed the entire bus routine.
You could say this was a life flashes before your eyes sort of moment for me. I remember it so vividly, and I was so young. Crossing the road at a time that’s supposed to be safe still terrifies me to this day. Living with vision loss means that I have to rely on the drivers around me to be smart and safe, but I learned from a young age that I cannot trust other drivers. I don’t always get to have my brother behind me to pull me out of oncoming traffic, I only have myself. As anyone with a disability knows, it is vital for us to be on high alert and use all of our functioning senses to maintain safety. So if you are an abled driver, please be observant, pay attention, and be safe, because your safety can save the lives of others.