Staffing Management

What if You Were Hit by a Bus?

By Rick Bell

Jun. 3, 2015

Pictured is the area where a CTA bus struck pedestrians on June 2, killing one and injuring eight.
Photo by Rick Bell

Chances are you’ve heard this in a meeting. Or you’ve probably said it yourself. I know I have on numerous occasions.

“What if so-and-so gets hit by a bus?”

It’s a recurring phrase that we use in our daily business lives depicting a scenario where either a colleague or I suddenly disappear from the work environment. But yesterday, the anonymous “so-and-so” example came to life. Here in Chicago. On a corner I cross at least twice a day going to and heading home from work.

A Chicago Transit Authority bus drove up a sidewalk filled with people pouring out of our office complex during the evening rush. Tragically, one person died in the accident at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Lake Street; eight other people were injured two critically, at last report.

I walked past the row of news trucks parked along Lake Street this morning. It wasn’t a surprise to me that they were there to report on the incident, considering that I saw the news last night.

But since the victims hadn’t yet been identified, I paused to consider that it could be one of my colleagues or someone from a neighboring office.

Or, had circumstances been different leaving work last night, it could have been me.

I don’t want to get all introspective on you. It obviously was not me, and thankfully none of my colleagues were involved. But such random, tragic incidents that occur in everyday travels and in familiar surroundings offer reason to contemplate our mortality.

It’s also natural to pick lessons out of tragedy. Some may simply use it as a reminder to bolster a workplace contingency plan. Others will take it as a message from whatever deity they worship to avoid that dangerous intersection and opt for another route home. Still others will take it as a  stark reminder that anyone at any time can be removed from our lives – at work and at home.

We all grieve and reflect differently in these situations. Me? I’ll reconsider the flippant nature of “What if so-and-so gets hit by a bus?” and choose my metaphors more carefully.

Rick Bell is Workforce’s editorial director. For comments or questions email

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