Can’t be on Time to Save My Life

All Rights Reserved © 2012 Thomas W. Day

Considering it was supposed to be a day off, Wednesday was a catastrophe. The day started well, I kicked the morning off by meeting with a friend in downtown St. Paul for an extended discussion of the world’s problems and lots of coffee. We went a little long, but we both had time to spare. That evening, I had an MSF classroom scheduled for 5:30 and that was my only deadline for the day. From downtown, I went to the UofM Hospital to visit a friend and deliver his mail. I hung out with him for a couple of hours before heading home to grab my class gear and relax a bit before that appointment.

Around 4PM, I loaded up the bike and rode to White Bear to pick up a package for my hospitalized friend. Barely a half-mile from home, I found myself stuck on Rice Street behind a wandering oversized black club-cab pickup, probably my all-time least favorite vehicle in the world. The fool behind the wheel was deeply involved in a cell phone conversation and driving like a drunk, covering a lane-and-a-half while he jabbered into his phone.

Not that many years ago, someone talking to themselves in their vehicle or walking down the street would be assumed insane. Today, jibbering chimps can hold a piece of plastic to their heads and pretend they aren’t crazy because they’re “having a conversation.” I’m not buying it. A toy smartphone does not prove sanity. Humans are not a multitasking animal. Most of us suck at everything, let alone everything at the same time. Every clinical trial has found that drunks are better drivers than cell phone users, but there is more money in keeping driving-while-cell-phone-abusing legal so we’re all condemned to share the highway with incompetent cell phone addicts. But I don’t have to like it and I still think most of these people are talking to themselves and are crazier than a rabid goat.

Along with the irritation of being stuck behind big-assed-truck cell phone boy, our two-vehicle convoy caught up with a dude on a cruiser. Loud pipes, shorts, sandals, some kind of handkerchief or napkin covering the bald spot, a scraggly grey ponytail flapping in the wind, the usual tidbits of leather in useless places, and he’s crawling along at 25mph in a 40mph zone. What am I, a “stupid magnet?” Good thing I left a half-hour early, at this rate it’s going to take me 45 minutes to go 10 miles.

The frequency of the blubbering pipes suddenly drops and I hear a crunch before the tail lights on the truck come on. We all come to an abrupt stop. Cell phone boy is looking in his mirror, I think to see if anyone saw him hit the bike. So, I made a little show out of getting a pen out of my jacket and writing down his license plate number on the map in my tank bag. Then, I rode around him, on the right side to see what the damage was. The bike was a mess, about half-way under the pickup, and crumpled like a toy. The biker had, apparently, gone over the bars and landed on his face and shoulder. There was a lot of blood, but he was mostly coherent. A couple of cars in the opposite direction traffic had stopped and a woman who claimed to be a nurse took control of the medical scene. She had him lie down and wait for the cops and ambulance someone had already called. [Ok, there are some things cell phones are good for. One thing, in fact.]

Should I stay or should I go? I decided to stick around to tell the cops about the cell phone involvement in the crash. Fifteen minutes later, a Ramsey County Sheriff’s Deputy is asking me “Did you see the accident?”

“It was no accident. The douchebag in the pickup ran over the guy on the bike. He was too busy flapping his lips into his cell phone to be bothered with driving.”

“He said he doesn’t have a cell phone.”

“He’s a liar or he likes holding black pieces of plastic to his ear and pretending to be on a cell phone. Either way, he drives like a drunk. I bet you’ll find a phone in his truck. I bet you can find a record of his using it up to a few minutes ago.” I gave the cop my business card and, finally, got back on the road for my class.

I made it about 15 minutes before the class was supposed to start and made a great impression with the other instructor, who got stuck doing all the prep work by himself. The only upside was that I had another motorcycle crash story to tell my class.

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