An Accident in Burnley

The Man What Fell Over – October 2006
We boarded the bus at Burnley bus station and sat ourselves down in the middle of it, and a man getting on the bus a few seconds later, fell over. He toppled backwards as he was getting on the bus and landed on his back. He was not that old, possibly in his 30s, but seemed to be suffering from some sort of degenerative disease and was walking – at least until he fell over – with two sticks. Some people in the bus station helped him to his feet, and he insisted he was alright, but the bus driver, who seemed a bit of a jobsworth, was reluctant to take him, and said, probably rightly, that at the very least he should report the accident, as it had happened on his bus.
The Lads Get It Under Control
While the driver was calling his superiors, the disabled man got out his purse to pay the fare, and dropped his money on the floor. The old folks sitting at the front of the bus – those who sit in the nearest available seat in the belief that the less walking you do, the better it will be for you, moved not a finger to help him, and Hilary ran down the bus to give him a hand in collecting his dropped change.
The driver still refused to go anywhere and called the inspector on his in-cab telephone. The inspector arrived and with the man still protesting that he was OK, asked him where he was bound and then asked if anyone on the bus was getting off at the same stop as the man at Archer Street. Some teenagers at the back of the bus said, don’t worry mister, we’ll make sure he gets off the bus safely, and with those assurances, and the man allowed to take a seat, the bus driver closed the doors and the bus continued on its way.
It was at this point that we noticed that in falling the man had cut both his elbows and was bleeding rather badly, so with the help of a man sitting behind us we rustled together some clean tissues and went and offered them to him and told him to hold them on his elbows to stem the bleeding; the man had not seemed to notice his wounds and was sitting looking somewhat shocked still.
The Helpful Woofer
A few bus stops later, a woman got on the bus with three children, a pushchair containing a baby, and a large brown dog. Obviously she couldn’t get far down the bus and so had to sit, as did her children and dog, nearby the injured man. A poor family, the children had a faint whiff of urine about them. The dog smelled blood, and did what good doggies do, for I’m sure he was a doggie full of heart, and tried to lick the injured man’s wounds better. It was at this point that we both began to feel more than a little sick.
Fortunately, the woman managed to curb the dog’s enthusiasm to be helpful, but she was not a big woman and the dog was a fair-sized one, so she had a struggle, and what with her young brood kicking the seats and threatening to get up and wander about it was touch and go, until to our relief the bus eventually reached Archer Street and the youths at the back leapt forward and one of them did an absolutely sterling job of helping the man off the bus, for which effort we nodded our appreciation, as did the man behind us, and as didn’t just about everyone else in the bus.
Creepy
The man behind us, he who had helped with the supply of tissues, was immensely keen to be helpful, especially since Hilary, like she always does, was following the bus’ progress against an OS map, and our new-found friend was intrigued. He and we were among the last off the bus and he insisted on making sure we wouldn’t go wrong in finding the canal, which since we’d been to that particular point before wasn’t very likely, and having said goodbye to our uncalled-for assistant and as we walked along the road to the canal bridge, the now-empty bus passed us, and the jobsworth and smile-bereft driver gave us a cheery wave. Creepy.

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