Armageddon on Washington Street

I was driving down Washington Street just now (because, chances are, if you're driving in Boston, you're probably either on Washington Street or damn near one) and I stopped for a school bus driving down Washington Street in the opposite direction, which was letting kids off with the red lights flashing and stop sign out. I was at the head of the line of cars stopped for the bus. From the same direction as the bus, an ambulance with lights and siren going pulled out from the lane the bus was in and into the oncoming lane where I was stopped. The ambulance came nearer and nearer to the bus with its stop sign, which had started letting children out, who were crossing in front of the bus and about to step into the ambulance's path.

I sat there watching this, frantically calculating whether the cat would land on its feet or whether the piece of bread strapped to the cat would land butter-side down wondering whether the bus or the ambulance had the right of way, thinking it would have to be the ambulance because it was doing a time-sensitive job, then realizing that regardless, the ambulance still wasn't going to run over people, and besides, the bus had no way of sucking the children back into the door, and hoping the ambulance was also thinking the same thing. The ambulance did indeed stop for the red flag on the school bus, which confirmed my thinking that it actually makes more sense for the school bus to have the right of way.

Except that then a strange thing happened. The vehicle behind me started honking like crazy. I looked around and didn't see anything I was doing wrong, or any way that I needed to get out of the way to help the ambulance, which had plenty of room to get around me once the children were done crossing. I looked behind me, and saw that it was a school bus honking, and the driver was waving and pointing at the ambulance, trying to get the attention of the driver who was letting children out. So maybe the other bus driver did think the proper procedure was to somehow get the children out of the road.

It was an interesting little coincidence to come across, except that now I still don't know for sure which one has the right of way. At least I do know with certainty that had a mail truck also appeared, it wouldn't have even been in the running.


dubrows said...

LOL about the Washington St comment. I actually drove from Brighton to Roxbury today, which involved starting off on one Washington St and ending up another, neither of which connected remotely.

Molly said...

I like in the Snopes link where it says someone thought the mail truck should have the right of way over emergency vehicles because "it might be carrying a declaration of war."

Barbara Mikkelson always does a fabulous job of skewering such ideas, but can't you imagine that now?

"Dear Iran,

On account of how you haven't quit it with the nucular [sic] stuff already, we're gonna have to be at war with you now. If you won't fight us, I'm telling my dad.



Anonymous said...

As an FYI:

Ch. 89, Sec. 7b of the Massachusetts General Laws: "The driver of any such approaching emergency vehicle shall comply with the provisions of section fourteen of chapter ninety when approaching a school bus which has stopped to allow passengers to alight or board from the same, and whose red lamps are flashing."
MGL 89-7b: Operation of emergency vehicles


karen said...

Wow. That'll never happen again. Well, I hope not. Funny. I was just out driving this AM behind a school bus which stopped and put its sign out. So, I stopped behind it and I'm sitting there waiting and talking to my gf as a line forms behind us. Kids start to walk from the corner to board the bus and I look up and this chick is just flying along - coming toward us from the opposite direction - and she is not slowing down. She proceeds to part these kids like they are squirrels or something. Half dart back to the curb and half leap into the bus. I just sat there with my mouth hanging open thinking - wtf? I expected to see a cell phone in her hand, but - nope. She just didn't have time for it, I suppose - or maybe she was precoffee zoning. I don't know. Scary.

Suldog said...

Of course, as you no doubt know - otherwise, why include the final sentence that you did - the mail truck is the only one with a legal right to run a red light.

Ah, I love laws.

Anonymous said...

Christian Missionary:
Our Lord Christ Jesus died on the cross purposely to save people. Hence, in all circumstances no one is allowed to kill anyone in order to save anyone who is not in the spot. Regardless of any law, the purpose of the law should be to save lives and to prevent crimes. You do not need to know any law if you love your brothers and sisters.