On Friday, I was giving a ride home to my friend, Tina. I never let anyone ride my bike (including myself), without a helmet, so she was wearing my extra one, which, after I dropped her off, I strapped to the back of my bike. I pulled out of her apartment complex on Riverside Dr, and as I was crossing the next intersection (Wickersham Ln), a car heading the opposite direction turned left right in front of me, causing me to have to slam on my brakes. I don’t know if it’s because my brakes are not great, or because my front wheel is not properly aligned with my handlebars (I think both), but braking suddenly caused the bike to slide off to one side. So me and Jenny (that’s my bike’s name) slid side by side down the road right into the intersection. As I was sliding down the road, the thought came into my head, “I sure am glad this happened after I dropped off Tina, and not while she was still on the bike.” When we both came to a rest, and I regained my composure, I got up and walked over to Jenny, a couple feet away from me, and another guy ran into the intersection to help me. I hit her engine cut-off switch, and we pulled her off to the side of the road.
The guy asked me if I was okay. I felt alright and told him so. He then told me he couldn’t believe that guy cut out in front of me, and what an idiot he was, and so on. I asked if the guy was still here. “No, he just kept going.” I choose to assume that he for some reason, his mind was very occupied at the time, and he never even knew I was there. I have to assume that, because the other option is that he’s a horrible careless person, and I prefer to think the best of people until I have evidence to the contrary.
So the guy that was helping me then asks if my bike is okay, so I try to turn her on. She doesn’t start right away, but after a couple tries, she turns right on. “Thank goodness she still works!,” I thought. I begin to inspect the damage and see some scratches along the right side of the bike, but nothing serious. As I’m looking at the damage, a fire truck pulls up, followed by the police. I’m guessing someone looked out their window and saw someone sliding across the road and decided to call 911. If that person is reading this, thank you very much.
The guy in the firetruck gets out and starts asking about how I’m feeling. Does my neck hurt. “No, I’ve got a couple scrapes, but nothing serious.” Did I lose consciousness? “Not at all.” Do I want to be taken to the hospital? “No, I don’t think that’s necessary.” And so on. The cop that gets out asks me about what happened. When the other cop gets out he tells him I “fell avoiding a collision.” In a little while the ambulance shows up. The EMT wants to take my blood pressure and pulse. We step into the ambulance so she can. She asks me all the same questions as the fireman, and writes my answers down. She asks me two more times if I want to be taken to the hospital, and I have to sign a form confirming that I refused transport. When I get out of the ambulance, the cop gives me a card with my case number on it for the insurance company. He asks if I’m okay to get home. “Yeah, it’s no problem.”
So the emergency vehicles all start to head off. I put my helmet and jacket back on, and see some more damage. My jacket has quite a few rips in it. My helmet is scratched along the right side so badly that it completely impairs my right peripheral vision. I imagine how it would be if that had been my face instead of my helmet. As I pull away, at the next intersection I realize another problem with my bike. The front brake lever has become bent backwards. I could only grab it with two fingers instead of all four. But it still works, so I’m fine.
All in all, the experience was more reassuring than anything, in many ways. Emergency services were incredibly responsive, so if it had been worse than it was, at least I know I would have been in good hands. Also, it’s reassuring how well my gear protected me from injury. Other people on the road have a nice steel cage to protect them, but I have to rely on my helmet, jacket, and jeans. And when they were put to the test on Friday, they passed with flying colors. In a few days, I intend to post to flickr pictures of some of the damage, so keep an eye on it.
I had another interesting experience on my motorcycle the next day (one that didn’t involve endangering my safety). I was heading west on Highway 71 (aka Ben White Blvd), and I was pulling up to the light at Riverside Dr. There were about five cars stopped at the light directly in front of me, and as I’m pulling up behind the line, I noticed something float to the ground a couple feet in front of me. It caught my eye, so I stopped to look at it. I’m about one car-length behind the car in front of me, but the light’s red, so I don’t think it’s a big deal to stop where I was. As I look down, I see that it was a butterfly that had floated down to the ground. I thought, This butterfly doesn’t realize what a bad situation into which it’s put itself. There are cars all around, and it decides to sit in the middle of the road. I was really starting to worry. “This butterfly will get squashed by this SUV behind me if I don’t do something to help it.” As I was trying to think of what I could do to ameliorate its situation, the light turned green, and I had no choice but to go. As I pulled away, a wave of guilt passed over me as I realized what I should have done. I could have put Jenny in neutral, bent over and picked up the butterfly. Maybe coaxed it to rest on my shirt inside my jacket, and then as soon as I could, pull over to the side and let it off in the grass. I felt really sad that this poor butterfly was probably now squashed under someone’s tires, making this not a very Goodyear for the butterfly. (I apologize for that last pun when discussing morbidity. Bad taste, I know.)
I don’t know what it says about me when I worry about a single, little butterfly, but thinking about still makes me a little sad.