Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Brake Lines Fail

I'm going to be serious for five minutes. I have a story to tell you.

I'm currently looking for a job. My situation is so desperate, that I absolutely needed to go out and turn in some job apps today. I'm trying to get in shape, so I took my bike. Okay, I probably would have used my car today, since it's raining, but my car is obstinately trying to scare me into letting it retire. A wish, I'm this close to granting.

I ran around, did all my errands, bought some new ear buds at K-Mart, and then was on my way home in all this rain, out of breath from fighting a fairly brisk head-wind.

I was passing a car dealership when I saw an SUV (don't ask me what make and model, I honestly don't care) pulling up to the main drag and getting ready to enter traffic.

Here is roughly the logic that went through my head. Bear in mind that the decision was made in less than a second: SUV coming up. Driver probably sees me. It's raining so it'll let me continue on before it merges. It can't merge anyway because there's a lot of traffic. I'll keep going.

I made one crucial tactical error. I forgot that people in SUVs (and probably cars in general) don't see bikes. They have a mental block about them because bikes make them feel bad--rampant speculation...my apologies.

Regardless of why the driver didn't see me, the fact remains that I was utterly invisible. It became more and more obvious that the SUV was not going to stop and by the time I was directly in front of it, the bumper had made contact with my lower leg and the hood had made contact with my shoulder.

Somehow, I ended up on my feet in the middle the road with my bike at my feet. My first move was a quick assessment of injuries: slight soreness. Maybe an abrasion. I can walk. I can probably ride. Next move: grab bike and get on the sidewalk.

I looked at the bumper. Utterly undamaged. My bike was fine as well.

My new earbuds were in and I was listening to The Pillows. So as the lady in the SUV was rolling down her window, I couldn't hear a word she was saying. I just said, "I'm cool. I'm fine. It's cool." I kept repeating words like that while I ran back out into the street to get the saddle bag that had come off my bike's rack.

As I was reattaching said saddle bag, I looked back at her. I studied her for a split second. Pretty gal. Blonde hair. Blue eyes. Perm. Dwarfed by her obviously brand new SUV. I like to think that this was the first time she'd ever driven it--she was, after all, driving it out of the parking lot of a car dealership.

She said something. I didn't hear it over my music and the rain hitting the hood of my windbreaker. I thought for a second and decided it was okay to poke a little fun. I said, "No, it's fine. It's not a big deal. I was just hit by an SUV, that's all."

She made a girl pout. One of those carefully calculated facial gestures that are designed to make you feel bad for them. I was just about ready to take off again, and I turned back to her and said, "By the way, you should probably get a more fuel-efficient vehicle."

And then I jumped on my pedals and didn't look back.

I don't know her side of the story. All I can do is speculate.

Like I said, if this was her first time driving the SUV, that could have some serious ramifications for her future driving habits. What was a woman like this purchasing one for anyway? Doesn't she know about peak oil? Maybe it doesn't matter.

I hope, in my heart of hearts, that she was offended by what I said. Hitting a human with a car is one of the most stressful things a person can go through. And then to have that human, sodden, riding a bike, out of breath, possibly seriously injured, lambaste you for owning an SUV. That's gotta be something.

Maybe I did sustain injuries and tomorrow I will feel them. But for now I feel fine. But she doesn't know that. She'll always wonder if I was seriously hurt. She'll feel guilty. Maybe she'll change her ways.

I hope not. I hope she gets pissed off at me and decides to waste even more oil. "How dare he make me feel bad about my spending habits?" Something like that. It would be way more poetic. I giver her my personal permission to keep on polluting as my way of apologizing for making her feel bad about herself.

Part of me really wants to know her side of the story. If only for completeness sake. But for my purposes, this will have to be enough. Good luck, lady. I hope you survive the apocalypse.