built like a fireplug on battery

another funny thing happened to me on the way into work this morning…

i’ve caught the ubiquitous #4 from trusty Spencer in Marin. as sometimes happens with golden gate transit busses, our driver is one of those who seems to not yet have the hang of the intricate relationship of air-brakes & a 40-ton passenger coach. You know the kind of ride, herky-jerky, not a single stationary torsoe on the bus, making the walk to the door while in motion really comical. But i’m engrossed in my Kingsolver, the way only Kingsolver can engross, so i tended not to notice it too much.

As always, i chime-in with a stop request as soon as the beast lumbers away from the bus-top at Levis Plaza. For the toothed driver, their next stop then should be at the north corner of Green & Battery. But not our hero Achey Brakey. He proceeds to blast past the next stop, prompting me to break the silence with some theatrical bass: “Yo! Green! Stop at Green!”

Immediately he pulls over on the south side of Green & brings the beast to a very rough stop. For anyone familiar with this intersection, you will recall turn of the century railroad tracks along Green, providing a rough roadway for the Battery Speedway. So he’s right on the corner, and after such a bouncy stop, i sally off without so much as a thank you or good morning.

As i walk the 10 feet of Battery to round the corner to go up Green, the world starts to do That Slow Motion thing. The bus has to make an extraordinarily sharp left turn to clear the parked cars and get back into the flow of Battery. But the ass of the bus is swinging far wider then i think the driver could ever have intended. And good god that corner fire hydrant is remarkably close to the edge of the sidewalk…


it was so effortless. upon contact with the hydrant, so symbollic in its strength, surely the thin metal panels on the bus would give & crumple. But then, this *is* a fire hydrant, and that *is* a bus. How un-cinematic would it be for hydrant to stay-put and for the bus to crumple? it was effortless. it was as if the hydrant wasnt even bolted down. the ass of the bus seemed merely to push the plug over.

and for a split second, it seemed as if the plug might have been a dudd. For as it was tipping over, only a dark brown mass of liquid started to bubble out. yet within a split-second later, with no less then 6 feet between myself & the hydrant, a column of whitewater 5 feet wide & an easy 20 feet high appeared roaring before me. this was surely surreal, for it’s all going so slow, with my reactions clearly on autopilot as i dance away from the widening column and out of the way of the massive pool of water quickly forming below it.

I could not believe how easily the plug tipped over. And apparently, neither could the driver. For there he was continuing his route down Battery. Again, here comes the autopilot as i pipe-off one loud & sharp whistle in the direction of the #4. The tattooes mullet of a driver that idles off the bus and towards the column of water & his former passenger is a mixture of dumb of humour. He’s smiling & mouthing “wow” and asks with a smirk, “DID I DO THAT?”

Yea, you did that.

The weirdest part of all of this was how insanely fast DWP was on-scene with a truck. Literally 2 minutes after the TINK there were flashing orange lights & flashy orange jumpsuits.

(Originally Posted: 2003_0909)

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