Posts Tagged ‘bicycle’

Ann from New Zealand wondered:

Do you use the word doored? It applies to a driver opening his door without checking for bikes. I once did that, I almost doored someone. The young woman let out a series of expletives. Since then, I almost always check before I open the door.

Note: this did NOT happen to my sister Leslie.

I was not familiar with the term, but the word is in the transportation literature. I well know the experience. Riding my bicycle, I’m always looking for unexpected activities from drivers. When I’m surprised by the action, I generally yell “YO” for some reason, and that has been known to work.

When I was in library school, which would have been 1990-1992, I was riding my bike when one of my fellow grad schools intentionally opened the driver’s side door as I was about to pass. He then closed it. He seemed to think it was terribly funny.

I did not. I swerved and hit the brakes. Somehow, probably from adrenaline, I managed to pull my bike out of alignment.

The guy claimed, “I thought you saw me” in the car. Well, no, I didn’t, and if I had, I would have still thought opening the door was a schmucky thing to do. Getting doored is the thing I most worry about as a recipient of pain.

Conversely, I’m most concerned about me hurting pedestrians who come out from between parked cars in the middle of the block. This is a greater concern than it used to be because vehicles tend to be larger, hiding the jaywalkers
until the last moment.

Unrelated, I get joy out of picking up change that lies on the road, probably falling out of the pockets of drivers. I figure that, in most bike seasons, I find enough nickels, dimes and quarters to pay for the necessary repairs on my vehicle.

I won’t ruin my riding momentum to stop for a penny or two. But if there’s a penny and a nickel, e.g., I’ll snatch up both.

Sister LeslieI had this post about my sister Leslie converting to Roman Catholicism this year pretty well constructed in my mind. It’d have been how it was surprising it was – she did it as a secret from virtually everyone – but how it was fine by me.

Then she had this serious bicycle accident on June 4. To recap, she had been on vacation the previous month in Europe seeing her daughter Rebecca Jade sing on a cruise, but also spending a few days in Copenhagen, Denmark on her own.

She went back to San Diego and decided to start riding her bicycle partway to work. Since she is a safety official, she thought she ought to wear a helmet, so she bought one on June 1; wearing it almost certainly saved her life.

While I was in San Diego July 9-14, her friend Cathy managed to recover Leslie’s stuff that had been in storage at the first hospital she went to, Scripps Mercy. The distinct smell of dried blood remained on the helmet even days after being aired out. She’s keeping it, certainly not to wear again but possibly as a prop, along with her mangled bike, about the importance of bicycle safety.

Sister Leslie was semi-liberated from the SECOND hospital, Kaiser Permanente, on July 4, but she had a hospital bed in her bedroom at home because she still had a feeding tube attached. She was getting 1500 calories via it every night, but we – Leslie, her wonderful friend Leilani, the nutritionist, and i – agreed to start cutting back incrementally.

My primary task while I was out there was to get her from the bed, where she was not comfortable enough to sleep through the night, to a reclining chair. I became moderately competent at detaching and reattaching the “food” line when she needed to walk around.

I went to a couple of her doctors’ visits, notably to a heck and neck guy who removed the eight screws that had aligned her teeth to her jaw but were no longer necessary. Remember the worst pain you ever had at the dentist? Double that and add another 30%. That’s what the removal of the metal appeared to feel like, despite six shots of Novocaine, and I was in the room when it happened.

The good news is that, absent the metallic taste and feel in her mouth, she was more inclined to eat on her own. Then the feeding tube was removed on June 20. Leslie’s tribe of friends had wanted it gone much earlier, and I understood their feelings. I said, and she agreed, that it made her LOOK sick.

A couple of her friends asked me if her cognitive ability had been hampered. She took a test, and not only did she ace it, she explained the flaws in the testing instrument: “If Jill is taking off from her stockbroker job to raise the kids, what money are they living on?”

One of the words she’s had trouble remembering was “morphine,” which she was on during her first two weeks in hospital. It was probably just as well, as she had four broken ribs, but it really disoriented her. Except for that period, she was unfailing polite to everyone.

Given how she appeared in photos a month and a half ago, I note that she looks pretty darn good, i.e., more like herself. She has this little Harry Potter scar, and another hidden by her glasses.

The primary concern now is her left, dominant hand, which is still wrapped. Her friends need to exercise her fingers, lest they atrophy. She also likes lotion, especially between the fingers.

I’ve known sister Leslie longer than any living person and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to help her a little, even though I never did figure out all that long-term disability paperwork.

Rebecca Jade, Leslie Green – May 2018

Coming home from work Monday night, I received a call from my sister Marcia asking if our niece Rebecca Jade had called me. Turns out she had left a message on the answering machine.

As best as we can figure out, Rebecca’s mother, my other sister, Leslie Green, was going to work, riding her bicycle to a light-rail station in the San Diego, California. Whether she hit a pothole or another impediment, we don’t know.

What we do know is that Leslie arrived at a hospital by an emergency vehicle. I get the sense she didn’t realize how injured she was; adrenaline will do that. Fortunately, she had her helmet on, because she might have suffered brain damage, or worse. But her sunglasses probably helped to break some bones in her face.

She was in the trauma section, but she didn’t have surgery until that night because she wasn’t as bad off as other patients, which I suppose is positive news. She had a “temporary” tracheotomy; I do not know what that is. She’s breathing well.

I called a nurse early Tuesday morning, who said Leslie looked remarkably well. The swelling has largely subsided.

She had some plastic surgery on her face Wednesday night, which went well. I’m mentioning all this, despite hating to write extemporaneously about fluid situations, because Rebecca had posted requests for prayers for her mother on Instagram and Facebook, and one of Leslie’s friends IMed me on FB:

“Is [Leslie] going to be OK? We had no idea last I heard she was on a cruise with her daughter.” And that is true. From Rebecca’s newsletter from a little over a week ago re: touring on two weeks of cruises with Dave Koz and his band:

“It was an incredible experience! From Copenhagen, we cruised to Stockholm, Sweden; then to Tallin, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; and finally to Helsinki, Finland before heading back to Copenhagen. And this year, my mom was able to join me!

“We had a great time, shared some amazing moments together, and she became a bit of a celebrity on the boat, both for singing in the ‘So You Think You Can Jam’ talent contest and for an impromptu jam with the legend himself, Larry Graham, where she and I got to sing together while Larry Graham thumped his bass! It made Larry emotional, as it reminded him of performing with his mom when he was growing up.”

If memory serves, Monday was supposed to have been Leslie’s first day back to work and they were concerned when she didn’t show up. As it stands now, she still has a broken left hand and left wrist – her dominant side -as well as four broken ribs (3 through 6).

She’ll be having more procedures, I imagine, but the Wednesday surgery was two days earlier than I was originally told, so I take that as a good sign.

But it kind of sucks being roughly 2,879 miles away. One of my oldest friends will be in San Diego this weekend, as it turns out, and she will visit Leslie Green and Rebecca Jade. This is some small comfort.

This happens a lot, maybe a half dozen times a year. I’m riding my bicycle on the correct side, going with traffic, as far right as the parked cars allow.

Some yahoo in a car does something designed to startle and/or annoy me, such as blow the horn for no cause, then take off, with drivers and passengers sufficiently amused. In the past, I’ve yelled, but it seldom gave me satisfaction.

But this month, the car drives by and the passenger yells “d’oh!”, the famous Homer Simpson response. The car rode off, but luckily it caught the light, so I was able to catch up. Instead of yelling, or threatening (which I’ve never done, except in my mind), I calmly and clearly said to the guy riding shotgun, “You must be quite the a$$#013 to yell at someone from a moving car.” Then I rode past. I think/hope I made them nervous. Yes, I can be that petty.

I’ll admit I was paranoid enough to ride on the sidewalk until the vehicle passed me again. Still, I was pleased because I didn’t have a treppenwitz moment. You remember that word, don’t you?

“We’ve all experienced this moment before – someone says something to you and you are so overwhelmed by the comment that it leaves you speechless and you can’t come up with a snappy comeback on the spot. But once you’ve walked away from the situation the perfect response suddenly pops into your head.

“This phenomenon is referred to as Treppenwitz in German, which literally means staircase joke, because… the witty retort usually hits you in the stairwell on your way out. Of course by then it’s already too late to use it.

“The term derives from the French expression “L’esprit de l’escalier,” which also translates to staircase joke.”

I was less successful with coming up with responses to a couple bicyclists doing wheelies just outside my building in downtown Albany the very same day. The pedestrians were understandably wary of these clowns, who, fortunately, didn’t hit anyone.

Speaking of almost getting hit, I was riding my bicycle down State Street in Albany. As is often the case at Hawk Street, a car goes partially though the intersection and manages to create gridlock. I’m far enough to the right to ride past. But the car left of me decides to move right, heading into my path.

I yelled “HEY” and he waited. Did I mention that was also on the same day?

Early in October, I needed to get back from my hometown of Binghamton, NY back to my home in Albany in order to see The Color Purple at Proctors Theatre in nearby Schenectady. I stopped at the nice newish transportation hub in Binghamton, which had been spruced up a whole lot since I last took a bus out of Binghamton.

Unfortunately, it closed at 9:45 p.m., and I was there at 10:30. Worse, when I got online, I discovered that the bus I wanted, which leaves at 4:15 a.m.(!), was sold out.

Still, my friend got up at 3:15 to take me to the bus station; now THAT is a true pal. A bus heading for Syracuse, north, but a couple hours west of Albany, shows up around 4:15. The last time I needed to buy a ticket when the station was closed I would buy it from the driver.

Apparently, the procedure now is that he holds my ID, drives me to Syracuse, and THEN I buy a ticket for the trip I’ve already taken, and get my ID back. Then I buy a ticket for the bus from Syracuse to Albany, which was showing up at 6:30, only a half hour after I arrived; cool.

Syracuse has an even nicer transportation hub. I could have caught the train from there, if necessary.

I liked this: a young woman was heading back to college in western Massachusetts from Rochester, west of Syracuse. Unfortunately, she overslept and missed her bus. Fortunately, her father drove her the nearly 90 miles from Rochester to Syracuse in the middle of the night. She was very appreciative.
***
When I ride my bike, I ride along the right side of the road, the way I am supposed to. At least a couple times a week, I see a guy bearing right at me, because he’s going on the left side, usually going the wrong way on a one-way street to boot.

Almost every time this happens, he yells, “You’re on the wrong side!” To which I yell back, “You are incorrect.” Short of throwing page 91 of the New York State driver’s manual, which reads, “Where there is [no bicycle lane, bicyclists] must remain near the right curb or edge of the road or on a right shoulder of the road, to prevent interference with other traffic,” there’s not much I can do.

For ABC Wednesday

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