Ignorance begets embarrassment

Published 6:39 am Monday, March 3, 2008

By Staff
Not every fender bender in town warrants news enough to make the front page of The Brewton Standard. For that, I am thankful, or you probably would have seen my face on today's front page.
You may not have heard about it, but I guarantee all of the people I wouldn't want to know are now up to speed on my situation.
Wednesday morning I was on my way to take my son to a doctor's appointment. Since the appointment was early, we decided to take a swing by a local restaurant for a little breakfast. I thought it would be a great time for my son and I to have a quiet, relaxed morning meal before going to the doctor and on to our daily routines.
That wasn't to be. My ignorance caused a big kink in our morning plans.
As we waited for a traffic light change downtown, we were behind a school bus headed to the Escambia-Brewton Career Technical School. I can distinctly remember my son saying he hoped none of the students turned around to look at us.
I have to apologize to my son, because what happened next certainly caused an entire busload of students to turn around and look at us.
When the light changed to green, traffic began to move. The bus moved and I moved. I didn't realize that the bus would be making a second stop.
I have been told, by countless people, that busses are required to stop at railroad crossings to perform the “stop, look and listen” routine for possible oncoming trains.
You have probably guessed by now that I didn't stop when the bus stopped that second time. The front end of my Dodge Caravan smacked the back end of the bus, causing that looking back of the students my son dreaded.
Embarrassed beyond words, I exited my vehicle to see the hood of my van with a sizeable crease in it, the front grill busted and the beautiful ram that once held the center position on the front of my van, lying on Mildred Street in downtown Brewton.
Thankfully, not one person was hurt. No student on the bus was injured, and my son and I were unscathed by the incident.
And now I'm living with the consequences of my ignorance.
Since my job puts me in public places and at public meetings, the very people I would have loved to keep this news from are the very ones I've had to come in contact with since Wednesday.
One of my best friends in the world works as the secretary for the bus shop at W.S. Neal. You can bet she certainly called me up to ask, “What were you thinking?” Well, Linda Sue, I guess I wasn't.
The bus shop superintendent was very kind - to begin with. He asked if my son and I were OK. We're on a friendly, first-name basis, and I like Bill West a lot. I think I recall him saying he was certainly pleased we weren't hurt. But then, it happened. He asked how I could miss seeing a big yellow bus.
I think I recall saying something like, “I didn't miss it.”
Thursday afternoon was my turn to cover the Escambia County School Board meeting. Just before the meeting got started, Billy Hines, the superintendent, walked up and asked if I would mind putting a story about school bus safety in the paper for him.
I'm sure that my face turned as red as the big A in the middle of a Tuscaloosa football field. To top it off, he invited Randall Little, who, by the way, oversees the transportation for the county, to join in our conversation. All I could do was hang my head.
I am very thankful that my speed was not a factor. Seriously, I was just taking off from a complete stop. I couldn't have been going more than 5 miles per hour when I struck the back end of the bus.
The thing that put me in a rental car for the next seven to 10 working days is the fact that school bus bumpers are made of steel, and front ends of Dodge Caravans are made of plastic. If you know anything about anything, you'll know the two just don't make for a good outcome.
Lisa Tindell is the news editor for The Brewton Standard. She may be reached by email at lisa.tindell@brewtonstandard.com.

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