My friend Joe once hit the back of a moving bus with his old Chrysler Le Baron. The bus, like all city buses, had a sign on the back which, in big letters, offered the following piece of information: This Bus Stops at All Railroad Crossings.

Joe was doing something other than watching the bus in front of him (I wasn’t there but I’ll bet whatever he was doing was marijuana related) and, as the bus slowed to stop for a railroad crossing, he slammed into the back of it, severely damaging his hood.

The bus driver stopped the bus and exited it in time to find Joe driving away from the scene of the accident. The bus driver didn’t get Joe’s license number, but that was okay, because more than twenty people on the bus did manage to get it.

That’s right, more than twenty witnesses saw my friend hit this bus and drive away.

Before he died, Joe was fond of telling this story, which he would introduce with the words, “You know, the two dumbest things I ever did happened within thirty seconds of each other.”

He was right.

Hitting a bus that stopped at a railroad track was very stupid. Fleeing the scene of a witness clogged accident was also very stupid. Joe was usually a bright guy, but here… well, he just fucked up. I blame the weed.

Anyway, one day we were drinking in the kind of shit hole little bar where the owners don’t mind eighteen year old kids with fake IDs sucking down beer (as long as they paid cash) and Joe started telling a couple of prostitutes this story. After he got to the part where he hit the bus on 22nd street, one of the prostitutes said, “That was you. Wow. Thanks so much.”

“What?” responded Joe. “You’re thanking me.”

“Yeah,” she said. “That was really cool. Thanks to you, all the people on that bus had a story to tell, and from then on, whenever we would sit together, if we recognized someone from that day, we’d all have something to talk about. The bus can be real creepy if you ain’t got no one to talk to.”

“You’re welcome,” said Joe.

Now, I was born on Christmas Day; I once burnt my house down and my mom ended up marrying the Battalion Chief who helped put it out, so I knew all about mixed blessings. And I just thought it was awesome that Joe’s infamous bus fuck up had finally become one.

As we walked home that night I said to Joe, “You feel a lot better about hitting that bus, don’t you?”

“Yeah,” he said. “I do.”

And then, after a few steps in silence he added, “The minute I get a car again, I think I’ll have to hit me another bus.”

In case you were looking for it, this story has no moral.

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