Study Week Part 1: My near-death experience

This past week was Bond’s “study week” aka week for students who have two choices:

1. Travel
2. Binge-watch Netflix, binge-eat Ben & Jerry’s, binge on other unhealthy, amazing  things

I chose option 1. I started the week in

Coolangatta

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Full of surfers, surf shops, good restaurants, the Gold Coast airport, and the Roxy Quiksilver Pro Surf Comp!

Spent a weekend there before heading into inland New South Wales to visit some family. I took a bus down the coast to Grafton, only to endure a slightly scarring, near-death experience via Greyhound bus.

On the drive I notice our driver is veering off the road every so often. I don’t say anything because honestly who suspects a bus driver, a PROFESSIONAL DRIVER, to be a bad driver??  Well at one point he pulls over because he feels so sick. He gets back on the bus after 30 minutes and apologizes-turns out he got a flu shot the day before and that’s what is causing him to vomit and feel very ill. I and the other passengers near me keep asking him if he wants to get a replacement driver and we stress the importance of safety, but he stubbornly insists to keep driving.

We get back on the road, but now his driving is even worse. It’s a windy road and it is clear that our driver is not well. He was veering so bad it seems like he can’t even keep his eyes open. It’s a good time to note that I am in the FRONT row of the bus for all of this so both my awareness and fear are heightened because I can see the road perfectly.

We hit a guard rail and run over at least four reflector signs on the side of the road. The front half of the bus begins yelling and actually screamimg at him begging him to stop the bus, pull over, brake, anything to just stop STOP STOP.

These few seconds seem so long, like they’re going in slow motion. We’re barreling down a curved road and thank goodness there is a driveway we can skid into. It takes a long time for the bus to come to a full stop. So I can’t describe how happy I feel when we did. I suddenly notice how fast and how strongly my heart beats and how jittery my hands shake.

The driver instantly keels over and holds his head in his hands. We check to see if he is ok and he nods his head yes. He calls Greyhound for a replacement driver. His hands are shaking too.  We are told we have to wait 1.5 hours (we actually waited 3 hours).

It heats up quickly on the bus and we all get off and hang out in this farmer’s driveway anticipating a long wait.

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Notice below that the bus is stopped only inches in front of that arrow road sign. The white things are the reflectors I mentioned that we ran over.

I am still surprised at the stubbornness of the driver. If he knew he was not feeling well then why did he insist on driving even after he pulled over the first time? Did he not understand that he was in control of 50 other people’s lives too? Was he afraid of calling in sick because he needed the money from they paycheck that week? And what if we hadn’t screamed at him to stop? Would we have crashed?

The driver sits against a big rock away from everyone else in the corner for the entire time, head between his knees and feeling unwell. People keep checking to make sure he’s okay and are very hospitable.  But I feel a bit of resentment towards him so I don’t. Yes, its ironic that I’m a hospitality major.
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It’s funny how bad situations can bring people together. Everyone begins socializing, where they may not have before, just texting, listening to music, or sleeping, just hoping to get to their destination without being bothered.

I become friends with a girl named Milli from Yamba and we share a few laughs about the situation and pray that the new driver will let us stop at McDonalds and we play hangman. We jokingly write a thank-you note to the farmer whose driveway we’re camped out in. We follow each other on instagram and she reads my blog now.

After an hour of waiting, two boys who don’t speak English and are clearly backpacking approach me as I read a magazine because Milli is attempting a nap on the bus. They ask “why we wait here so long?” Poor things! Didn’t even know what went wrong! So I explained in the simplest English I could and they sigh and sulk back to a shady spot in this gravel driveway.

I also speak to the woman who has been sitting n ext to me, both on the bus and while waiting for the extra driver. She tells me all about her sugarcane farm on the sunshine coast and Queensland politics and her husband with Parkinson’s and each one of her 14 grandchildren. It made me grateful that we didn’t crash and that nobody was hurt because the driver’s irresponsibility would’ve had a ripple effect on us passengers like Milli and the foreign boys and the woman next to me and our family and friends and other people too.

Thankfully my aunt & uncle rescued me from the side of the road and we drove back to their house where I spent the following week.

Later, Milli said they ended up waiting 3 hours, and they didn’t even stop at McDonalds.

Stay tuned to hear about the rest of my study week!

 

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Study Week Part 1: My near-death experience

  1. Hi Lauren,

    I’ve been reading your blog and it’s making me fall in love with Cornell and its School of Hotel Administration. I was recently wait-listed by the Cornell SHA and noticed you were as well when you first applied. I would like to ask if you have any advice for me to get off the wait-list. I have already sent a letter of continued interest. Should I ask my principal or current boss to write a recommendation for me (I sent in 4 letters of recommendations when I first applied)?

    Thank you so much!

    Kenny

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