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April 24, 2014 | 12:00 a.m. CST
I stood on an ice-covered road with two police officers, my father on crutches, and a school bus driver hugging me.
On that bizarre morning in December 2007, winter weather had delayed classes. I was still running late and opted to take my secret route, a path to the high school sure to save time — unless the streets are treacherous. At 20 mph on a downhill slope, I lost control of my beloved Grand Am and slid through a stop sign. At that moment, a school bus full of children lumbered across the intersection. I crashed into its side and spun into a snow bank.
The impact left my car’s front end crumpled and smoking. I wasn’t injured but panicked thinking about the bus and worse, the people on it. But when I looked, there was no dent or even a scratch to be found. The monstrosity was impervious; the metal walls great protectors of young lives.
My father arrived, hopping toward the scene with a broken ankle from an icy fall the week prior. The police assured me they would “take care of this,” and without notice, the bus driver ran up and put his arms around me.
Turns out, everyone has a bus story. Vox’s feature this week explores the bus a as witness, as a harbor of secrets. In that moment, the bus to me was both a culprit and savior. Because there we stood, the driver and I, embracing, with it towering over us like an untouchable fortress and destroyer. As the kids exited, I was overwhelmed by the compassion of this stranger.