Sprained ankle

I have sprained my ankle. Now, I’d like to claim that this was during some great activity – a national sporting event, paragliding, bungee jumping, rodeo, bullfighting, base jumping, something of that stretches the human physique to its limits. But no. I sprained my ankle getting off a bus.

It’s the bus driver I blame. You just don’t expect the bus driver to be so friendly. He said "hi, how are you" as I get on. Like, wow. Twilight Zone stuff. Okay, so it’s only the kind of "how are you" that doesn’t really warrant a detailed or personal response, but it’s a surprise nonetheless.

Then when I’m getting off, he says "thank you, see you again." And whatever the reasoning (MetBus’s great friendliness and customer service campaign of ’96 perhaps) it distracts me for a vital second. Just long enough to prevent me noticing that the ground below me, where I am about to tread, is not the conventional horizontal footpath I have come to expect, but a driveway. An angled driveway. The edge of an angled driveway, to be precise.

My left foot (hey, good name for a film) decides it can’t handle this. It leaps out of the way, taking some ligaments in my ankle with it. I land on the other knee, say "ow!" rather loudly and walk away.

It wouldn’t have been so bad, but I was on the way to the dentist. Ah, the dentist!

The dentist is like any other person who knows a million times more about their field than you. Every one of them has you completely at their mercy. Only these people can charge you $145 for what seems like a few minutes’ work and get away with it. They can tell you everything is wrong, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

The video repair shop – Well, the heads are gone, have to be replaced
Dentist – Well, the wisdom teeth are trouble, have to be taken out
Mechanic – Well, the whole exhaust is shot, has to be replaced
Computer repair – Well, the hard drive is kaput, has to be replaced
… you get the picture.

Luckily, my dentist is very trustworthy, and never takes advantage of me. Or so I believe…

Anyway, the ankle. It didn’t start to hurt until that evening, when it ballooned, so the next day I called in sick "honestly guys, I think they’re going to have to amputate" and hobbled out on crutches and got it checked.

It’s only once you’re on crutches that you appreciate the extreme discomfort of using them. You appreciate those low steps. You appreciate automatic doors. It was on these crutches on Friday 12th January (Crutch Day Number 3) that the MORON OF THE WEEK was spotted.

The driver of red Commodore DEA380 actually managed to have TWO tries at mowing me down. Not bad, eh? As I was getting off the tram at the corner of Glen Huntly and Booran Roads, attempt one took place, only prevented by the gallant conductor leaping out and signalling him to stop (I probably looked pathetic trying to get down the steps with two crutches). Damn, I didn’t get my chance to put the crutch through his windscreen.

Seconds later, he has another go! I’m preparing to hobble across the street that he’s decided he’s turning left into. He apparently only thinks to give way upon meeting my glare (I’ve been practising). He pulls up, and waves me past, like he’s doing me some big favour, rather than just obeying the road traffic laws.

Meanwhile, back in ankle land on Crutch Day Number 1, I’d managed to get to the x-ray place. It’s lucky x-rays aren’t like passport photos – you don’t get them back and see all the hairs on your leg sticking out and have to get them re-done to avoid embarrassment. But the x-ray guy (Mr Plutonium I think he said his name was) got talking, and asked "so, could you blame the bus company?"

I thought about this for a few seconds, and there’s two big reasons why I wouldn’t go into legal action. Firstly, it was my fault. Okay, call me crazy, but how could I maintain a straight face while suing someone else because I wasn’t looking where I was going? Secondly, and more importantly, is that ANY legal action means LAWYERS GET MONEY. This is not a good situation. They already have plenty of other peoples’ money, and I in no way want to encourage them.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.