Monday, September 6, 2010

bike lights

Like the majority of normal people,1 I despise it when others look out for my well being. Take, for example, the recent attempts by every living soul on the planet to ensure that I do, in fact, use a light when biking in the dark. Never mind the fact that I have a college degree, am within spitting distance of 30, and was once able to do that cool index-finger pen flick trick,2 people feel the need to ask me if I'm an idiot every time I'm about to head out on my bike at night.

Do I look like a moron? Do I look like I can't feed myself? Is there something in my gait that would suggest I'm entirely incapable of understanding the ineptitude behind biking down a pitch-black road without a method of seeing? I would argue the answer to all of those questions is no, but, apparently, given the number of questions I've received lately, there must be something about me that gives the impression of quiet incompetence.

I mean, sheesh. It's not like I once, as a lad, attempted to bike down five miles of pitch-black canyon road at 10:30 PM, at speeds exceeding 25 MPH, relying solely on the light of the cars whizzing by to navigate the road. It's not like I hugged the rock-strewn side of the road. It's not like I did not see, have no recollection of, nor even comprehended the possibility of me being on a direct collision course with a man walking his dog on the side of the road. It's not like I snagged his wrist, flipped over, and woke up ten minutes later on the pavement with an ambulance on its way. It's not like I spent the next week in bed, dizzy, puking, and with a grade-A concussion and headache, and left to this day with a dent in my head. I mean, come on. Give me some credit.

Oh, wait.

In a just world, my decision-making abilities would be vastly improved. Sadly, for the time being, I'm left pondering whether or not my life has been a series of ill-planned maneuvers.

In a just world, scout camp counsellors wouldn't occupy a spot at the bottom of the child employment status ladder, eons away from lifeguard, and grouped together with 'ladder-holder for window-washing brother', and 'man who picks up the neighborhood dogs' poo with a plastic bag'. In a just world, I wouldn't have chosen to work those three bottom-dwelling jobs as a child. In a just world, I wouldn't have spent my summer as a 14 year old cleaning a latrine and getting spat on by 8 year olds for the grand old weekly wage of 'somewhere south of the average allowance of my friends'. In a just world, I would have considered the possibilities of failure in biking home from camp in the dark. In a just world, I would have some recollection of seeing the man, instead of some hazy memories of flying through the dark.

However, evidence in favor of a just world is the nice lady who stopped her truck before running me over, and directed traffic around my limp body. There's also the kind ambulance crew that put me on one of those sweet stretchers. There was, though, a period of a half hour when I thought they were jerks because they had left my head on the hard plastic instead of giving me a pillow, but, in further evidence of a just world, the needles shooting up through my skull were due entirely to my injury, and not to a lack of pillow, as I was later informed by the ER doc on duty that night.3

Furthermore, in a just world, I would realize the complete hypocrisy of getting annoyed at people for reminding me to do something that would have saved me bushels of pain in the past, but, alas, my pride will not allow it. So please. I use a bike light. Stop asking.

1. Let the record show that I define normal people as: those possessing all of the qualities that I myself possess.
2. Lies. It taunts me to this day.
3. Though one might be tempted to think, given the severity of my head injury, that I was not wearing a helmet, let me assure you that I was, in fact, wearing one, which absorbed the initial impact gallantly, then helpfully ripped off my head in the aftermath to expose my head to the road. At least, that's what I presume happened, given the evidence collected at the scene of the accident, and the small rocks implanted in my skull.

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