The School Bus Crash
Have we become desenstized to disaster as it becomes more prevalent? How often do we swear we are going to stop watching/reading the news because we don’t want to know about bad news anymore?
After an exceptionally taxing horseback riding lesson last Thursday, I decided to treat myself to a nice lunch.
I ordered fennel and crab soup with a salmon avocado wrap at The Gladstone Tavern, a familiar, comfortable restaurant.
There was a group of 4 or 5 women sitting behind me who were in their 60’s. They were drinking, and I envied their pretty cocktails as they passed my table. I decided I would not be having a cocktail in the middle of the day.
I am known to be a great eavesdropper, and today was no different. I overheard one of the women comment that there was an overturned school bus on Interstate 80 in Mt. Olive. They had sketchy details because the crash had only happened about two hours ago. It sounded serious. I knew I would get the details later on the evening news.
As I finished my lunch, I started to think about what I could be writing about that day and in the days to come. When the story unfolded, it seemed all I could think about was the people on that bus.
I watched the evening news and saw that the bus had collided head on with a dump truck, tearing the bus into pieces. The reason for the bus traveling the wrong way on the interstate was a burning question in everyone’s minds. One child and one adult were reported to be dead at the scene, with another 43 passengers admitted to area hospitals, many with critical injuries. I stayed tuned in to the world’s reactions as well as my own throughout the following day. I checked in with my husband who does not have a tv to be sure he was aware of the tragedy. He was horrified.
I went to a Weight Watchers meeting on Friday morning near where the accident happened. So many members were emotionally stressed over the week with one breaking down in tears over the disaster. I went to the hair salon after the meeting where the place was abuzz with both facts and rumors about the crash. There was no shortage of opinions about how bus drivers should be more carefully screened. Someone said the bus driver had died in the hospital. By now it was clear that the bus had made an illegal u-turn on the interstate.
That Friday morning there was a school shooting in Texas that left 10 dead and 13 hospitalized.
I let these events take their emotional toll on me as I thought about the parents who sent their children off to school on that Thursday and Friday morning as they had on many ordinary days. I let myself imagine the way those days began in the usual way for so many before turning into a day that would plainly ruin their lives.
I want to think that we are not becoming desensitized to tragedy as it becomes more common.
I decided to pay homage and tribute to all victims of disaster by writing a note about them instead of writing the usual drivel about my own life here today.