Chapter 33 Trouble Brewing
Although I still enjoyed driving into London every day I found myself becoming more irritable with the commuters especially those who continued to use their mobile phones on the coaches. There is nothing more annoying than someone talking in a loud voice right behind you. I brought this problem to management on many occasions at our Health and Safety meetings and eventually I persuaded management to post notices on the coaches asking passengers not to use their mobile phone once the coach had left the terminal. This was not very effective and passengers became quite abusive when you pointed this notice out to them. Often if you told them their call was distracting you they would tell you it wasn’t. I would always ask them how the hell did they knew what distracted me, saying that if they took all their clothes off and walked down the coach that would not distract me but sitting right behind me talking drivel very loudly into their mobile phone would. Unbeknown to me I was becoming very stressed.
One day always makes people very wary was Friday 13th. April had such a Friday. Traffic on the M1 was very heavy approaching Hemel Hempstead and so I decided to come off the motorway at Watford and go through Leavsden and Abbotts Langley. Something we all do quite often. I had come down College Road and was turning right on the roundabout into Tibbs Hill when a car driven by a young girl shot across from Langley Way onto the roundabout and across the front of my coach. I pulled across to the offside and braked as hard as I could but struck her car on the offside rear door turning the car across the front of the coach. I expected the coach to turn her car over but fortunately it pushed it out of the way leaving the car badly damaged but the young driver unscathed.
The reaction from the passengers was very interesting. The young lads at the
front yelled out “where the f**k did that come from” my exact feelings. Further back came the call “It’s Friday the 13th driver” again something that was also on my mind. One passenger and one passenger only got annoyed with me for calling the police and delaying his journey home, the rest were very sympathetic and helped in filling all the forms we have to use now in the event of an accident. I had to take photos of the scene and give a statement to the police. The young lady admitted to me and the police that she had not seen me. The police also pointed out to her father who turned up at the scene that if she was going to have an accident don’t pick on something this size. Her car was a virtual right off whereas the coach suffered a broken front indicator light and some minor scratched to the front bumper.
Although I thought at the time this had not affected me as accidents are unfortunately part and parcel of our job. I had been lucky not to have been involved in any major accident like this in my forty years driving career.
I now found myself becoming more and more irritated with the passengers to the extent of shouting at passengers when they were using their phones and refusing to acknowledge them when they said hello to me, and so the inevitable happened.