10.27.2005

Can't Slow Down

This blog post definitely gets filed in the "substitute for real human interaction" category. I can write about this once here, and I hope I won't have to tell this story over and over again throughout the next few days and weeks.

On my bicycle ride home tonight, I got hit by a car. I'm pretty sure I'm fine, but naturally I'm a bit shaken up. I'm really mad at myself for going through a dangerous intersection on a yellow light at dusk. Bicycles can't afford to do that. I'd even been warned about this particular intersection by my friend who's been cycling in the city for years. I'm really mad at myself for my poor judgment. I just couldn't slow down in time to make the proper decision, and I paid the price. I'm mad at myself for putting my life in danger like that.

But I might be even more mad at the person who hit me, because she didn't even stop to see if she'd, oh, say, killed me. I often remark that I'm not a lucky person, but you won't hear me saying that ever again. I was very, very lucky tonight and I'm really grateful. I feel that walking away from such an incident with only a bent back tire is a sign of great fortune. Please remind me of this experience next time I'm complaining about anything trivial. I'm even more fortunate that as I was standing there on the phone with Nick telling him what happened, several people came by to see if I was OK and to offer me help, even if all they could do to help was to note that, yes, it was completely immoral and illegal for this person not to stop.

I'd only gotten the first few numbers of the license plate number, and at the time it just seemed pointless to even think of doing anything official like calling 911 or reporting this to the police. But as I was standing on the street corner feeling addled and (I'll admit it) ashamed, a man ran up to me with a piece of paper. In a very comforting German accent, he explained that he'd seen what happened, followed the woman, written down her license plate number, and identified the color and make of the truck. He said he'd scolded her and told her she should have stopped. She apparently blamed me for running a red light.... He said I should call the police, because it wasn't up to her to make that judgment, and no matter who is at fault, you are supposed to stop and exchange information. I'm grateful to him for reminding me of this, and I did call the police. I suppose that, if anything, a driver like that should be ticketed. God knows I've gotten tickets for much less.

No, I was not wearing a helmet, and yes, I knew how stupid that was even when I was doing it. I almost grabbed my helmet on the way out the door this morning, because I'd been thinking as the days get shorter that I really needed the helmet because I'd be riding in the dark more often. But I was already running late and couldn't find it in our massively disorganized Front Closet of Doom. Rest assured, I'll be wearing my helmet from now on. Maybe even my motorcycle helmet.

I don't think I've ever experienced time slowing down the way it does when you are involved in a sudden, fast-paced, high-stress experience. But it was almost kinda cool the way it did. I just wish I'd been watching it happen in a movie or something and not experiencing it firsthand. It went a little something like this:

Hmm... I'm going really fast and that light at Harrison is green. I'll make it.

Crap, it just turned yellow and I've just made it into the intersection.


Oh god, this is THE EXACT INTERSECTION that Mo told me NEVER to cross on a yellow light.

But I CAN'T SLOW DOWN and THERE'S REALLY NOWHERE SAFE TO STOP.

I'd better just hurry the HELL up and GET OUT OF HERE.

(At this point I was actually yelling to the cars at the red light, "STOP! PLEASE! I HAVE TO GET THROUGH!" or something to that effect.)

OH NO OH NO OH NO Is that truck speeding up to barrel through this intersection?

OHMYGOD It's going to happen JUST like Mo said it would.

OH CRAP OH CRAP OH CRAP I'M GOING TO GET HIT OH CRAP OH CRAP

(This part I believe I actually said out loud, in Rainman-like fashion.)

Then came the point of impact. Then I was like,

I FEEL MY LEGS! HALLELUJAH THANK YOU JESUS CHRIST LORD OF THE JUNGLE.

Even though it all happened so fast, time slowed down enough so I had an opportunity to think all those thoughts. It was very very scary.

So anyway, that's my story. You know I already feel very reckless and foolish about it so please don't scold me. I can't even believe I do such things as ride bicycles and scooters in the dark in the city. I'm beginning to understand why they say you have to just slow down and think, no matter how eager you may be to rush home to your kitty cats. I'm beginning to understand why my mother worries so much about me.

6 comments:

ann said...

So glad you are okay.

jfh said...

oh, jeni, i had no idea. thank GOD you are okay. all my company left at dawn this morning, and this is the first time i've been on the computer reading the blogs. i'll call you later and no, i won't yell at you. love, mom

Greg, from Earth said...

Always trust Maureen from Moline. I am just saying, is all.

Ruth said...

So glad you're ok! Look at me, reading a blog... I guess it's a good way to make sure your friends are alive : )

Mary Tsao said...

I read this and yelled, "Mike! Jennie got hit by a car!" and he replied, "I know!"

I guess we both read your blog.

I'm assuming you're OK (at least your hands aren't broken). Nothing like a little brush with death once in awhile.

Anonymous said...

Jesus Jenny! That SAME thing happened to me! Ride fearfully and patiently and wear a helmet and you should be cool! Love Wiggy