It was strange, pulling up to a four-way intersection to find every car at every direction in an intersection was... white. Was I in some 1940s propaganda film? NO. Each one of them was from 1998 or sooner. Surreal, it was. Toyota, Mercedes, Range Rover, Buick, Honda, GMC, Ford, all represented. It felt as if I was part of a Twilight Zone episode, my multi-colored but white-based bus the lone exception.
The USA is an amalgamation of all colors of the rainbow, and Portland especially fits that specific range of demographics. Was it a sign, this sudden and unexpected sight? It was rather unnerving to be a white guy in a sea of white. Not just every car at the first position in each direction, but every... fucking... car... beyond it. I even heard the old TV show host Rod Serling speaking as I sat there pondering the odds against such a spectacle.
Drive a bus long enough, and the sights you're treated to multiply as the years pass by. Usually, traffic rolling by is multi-colored. As I sat at this red light, I searched for faces in this sea of blinding white. They were black, brown, white, and other colors as well. It's actually rare to see many white vehicles up here in the Great Nor'west. Mostly they're blue, red or black. To see a sea of white was blinding in more ways than one, and a bit unnerving as well.
Had I, to that point in time, witnessed cars of one other color in all directions? Decidedly not. As one who drives a 10-hour shift every five days of his week, I see tens of thousands of other vehicles. Just one weird occurrence on my part, but noteworthy nonetheless. I think. I still don't know what to make of it, except that it was one of those strange things that happens when you drive for a living.
* * * * *
A few minutes early to a transit center, I looked forward to a stretch and a puff on my vape as I rolled in. After welcoming new passengers, I informed my folks we were a bit early and I was going to enjoy the evening air while I stretched my aches and pains. As I exited, I saw a man face-down on the sidewalk just behind my bus and ahead of my brother who was at a layover.
Examining him, I noticed a pool of blood had collected beneath the poor guy's head. He was unconscious, and my attempts to revive him failed. Noticing my brother in the seat in the bus behind my idling ride, I walked up to his door. We've known each other for years. He nodded at the prone figure ahead of his bus and told me he had hit "Priority Request to Talk" and was waiting upon a reply.
"I can't rouse the guy," I said. "He's bleeding from his head and unconscious."
"Didn't see what happened to him," my buddy replied. "I've already sent a message and will request they send medical."
I knelt down for a close visual, and the man was breathing, but clearly unconscious. The blood continued dripping into the pool under his quivering lips.
"Hey buddy," I said, gently rubbing his shoulder, "help is on the way. I know you're not okay, but I'm here." No response.
Nobody else around, except me and the unconscious one. He didn't flinch or give any indication he heard me. That was worrisome. Then, I noticed two people standing nearby. I asked them to come in closer. One of them knelt down and spoke softly into the wounded man's ear, rubbing his shoulder simultaneously. This brought him about a bit. He looked up, but the man soothed him.
"It's okay," he said softly, "we're here to help you. Can you hear me? Don't try to get up, you're injured."
He looked up at me, and I just nodded. "Help is on the way," I said.
The wounded man was confused, and rose his head to look into my eyes. One of his pupils was dilated.
"Don't get up," I told him, my own hand on his shoulder. "You've been hurt, and we want to keep you safe."
"That blood on the sidewalk is yours," the bystander said. He took the man's sweater and placed it under his head. "Just lie down and rest."
Instead, the man rose to a sitting position. Mr. Bystander held him steady.
"Help is on the way," I repeated, watching my brother on the radio with Dispatch. "Just sit here and you'll be okay. We got ya."
When my brother affirmed that rescue units were en route, I told him I would roll. The bystanders assured me they would stay with the wounded man until paramedics arrived. There was nothing more I could do, and my passengers had to be somewhere. These Sidewalk Angels assured me they would stay with him until help arrived, so I waved to my brother and boarded my bus to roll again.
This is life as a transit operator. We see things we'd rather not, but upon any disaster, we respond. Who could deny a fellow human assistance in their time of need? I certainly cannot, nor do my brothers and sisters. Your professional transit operator simply cannot ignore disasters.
My operator's hat is tipped to the two bystanders who stepped in to assist someone in need, and remained with him until help arrived. I also applaud my fellow operator who willingly forsake his precious break time to help a fellow man in need of desperate attention.
"Go ahead and roll, I'll write the report," he said. An extra 45 minutes of time for him, but a shortened break on the other side of the line.
I hope he's okay, the poor fellow. His blood stain remained red as I passed through next time. Had he been knocked over the head and mugged? Did he trip and fall, hitting his head on his way down? He was too dazed to explain. All I could do was shake my head and hope. I thought of him, and prayed for his ultimate health, the rest of my shift.
That's enough for one week. I'm tired, and the sun is rising. Heading to bed, looking forward to a late-afternoon massage and the company of my beloved. Meanwhile, stay safe, ya mugs.