Every now and then, life throws a really nasty curve at you, and there’s no amount of rum or fried chicken you can offer Jobu that will help you hit that curveball.
And last week, I had my curve.
For those who don’t know, my main mode of transportation only has two wheels – either scooter or recently acquired Yamaha R3 motorcycle. And any rider will tell you that the main thing to keep in mind is that when you’re riding, consider yourself invisible.
I do – all the time. As far as I’m concerned, cagers* are completely oblivious to my presence and with the number of them texting and on their phone in general, it’s absolutely true. Chances are they’re even oblivious to fellow drivers, too.
So when friends and relatives find out that you’ve given up driving in favor of something more inherently dangerous (yet much more economical and practical in terms of traffic), naturally they are concerned for your well-being.
And I’m okay with that.
It’s been nearly two years since I started riding and up until last week, it’s been an enjoyable experience. Granted, there have been times when distracted drivers (read: on their phone) slowly drifted into my lane, prompting me to yell and honk at them. No harm, no foul; just a slight annoyance and I carry on – or a severe tongue-lashing at the next red light. (I despise the act of texting while driving even more these days.)
Then there’s lane-splitting which I do, but it’s not like I’m lane-splitting at ridiculous speeds. I’m not. Doing so is just crazy. I do, however, take advantage of it at red lights to get away from traffic because distancing yourself from it is safer.
By the way, whether you like it or not, lane-splitting is legal in California.
But last week. Wow, last week. Nothing could have prepared me for it.
It seems I had an accident on my scooter but here’s the strange thing about it: there were no witnesses and I was the only one involved. Try and wrap your head around that one if you can. And if you can’t, the video will prove it.
Basically, here’s what happened.
I park at a lot a few blocks away from the office. It’s been where I’ve parked since I started my freelance gig in August 2015. At the entrance and exit, there is an arm that raises when you either a) pay your fee or b) wave your parking pass at the sensor.
And just like that, once you pass under the arm, you’re in the underground lot.
Last Thursday, something strange happened at the exit.
I packed up all of my stuff in my scooter and got ready for my ride home. Then, as I always do, started my GoPro camera to document my ride in case anything happened. There’s a good chance that any incident wouldn’t be may fault so documentation is important.
I rode up the ramp toward the exit and waited for the sensor to recognize the presence of my scooter at the arm. Knowing exactly when it raises and how quickly it does, I approached it at my normal rate of speed.
Aaaand that’s when it happened.
Just as I was approaching the exit, the arm decided it wasn’t going to stay up. So here I am accelerating toward the raised arm thinking everything was all hunky-dory – then it almost decapitates me.
In the process, I fell hard on my right side with the scooter landing on my right leg.
What you see here is me not reacting in time to this. I just couldn’t do it. I kept my hand on the throttle and I rode through the arm as it lowered, bending the holy hell out of it in the process – and thrashing my neck a bit, too. This was taken shortly after my coworker informed me of it.
I didn’t even notice the damage to my neck until a coworker came by and pointed it out as I was shooting videos of me describing what just happened. I was more concerned with my scooter not starting immediately after the incident and how I was going to get home. (When you ride, you’ll understand.)
Fortunately, it decided to start after a call to Ann in which she told me to summon our insurance’s roadside assistance service. We’ve since joined AAA not because the gecko didn’t help, but we just felt that having an extra lay of security is the right thing to do.
But the scratch on my neck was just one thing. I assessed the damage to my scooter and it looks pretty scratchy now, and the reflector on the right side is now broken. Other than that, it’s fine and still runs.
As for the rest of me, I hurt. I had pain in my right shoulder, right knee, and right side of my neck. After all, I just turned 47 and am edging ever-so-closer to Senior Citizen discounts at Denny’s.
I didn’t seek immediate help nor did I talk to anyone at the condo complex where we sublet parking spaces. When I got home, I immediately emailed our HR department to let them know what happened so they would have the info FTITM.
They did, and got the paperwork rolling. It was to be a workman’s comp incident since it happened at a place that they sublet.
After giving them the details and showing them the video (to which everyone reacted the same way: “OH SH**!”), I was sent to the local urgent care to get checked out. Based on my pain, they recommended no less than six sessions of physical therapy.
Now keep in mind that I’d already used some of my sick pay to combat a bug I was just getting over. The thought of using more for this wasn’t really cool with me.
In addition to physical therapy, I was given a care package consisting of a reusable cold pack, an electric heat pack, anti-inflammatory pills and Tylenol. Not exactly a Halloween bag.
They then scheduled my physical therapy session for the following Monday, followed by a doctor’s check-up immediately after.
During the session, I was bent in all kinds of ways that would probably make any professional contortionist blush. But the good thing was that I wasn’t experiencing pain at any of the targeted areas. I may be getting older but it seems my body is still like a Timex watch.
Seeing no need for further sessions, the therapist signed me off. I then went to see the doctor and he released me for work duty, as if I work hard sitting at a desk all day.
Now if this had happened with my shiny new motorcycle, I would have been slightly more annoyed even if it was an accident. I probably would have endured more damage to my body as it is considerably heavier than my scooter with metal pegs protruding from the sides. That could hurt. But that wasn’t the case so it’s cool with me.
After all this, I’m over it. I had to endure a few days of pain so big deal. The company has since moved my parking privilege across the street to the lot under the office where there are no arms to deal with. Additionally, my employer saw to it that was given the best of care. I have absolutely no complaints.
There will be no lawsuits, no claims, no nothing. In fact, I’m feeling so normal I’m going running in the morning. I can just chalk this up to being a freak accident which is exactly what it was. The company is going to have a chat with the condo management to see what can be done about the arm sensitivity, and chances are they’ll have to replace the arm since my neck really jacked it up.
And everybody thought that a driver was going to take me out?
*A cager is rider-speak for anybody in a car. Hey, don’t take offense. I’m still one whenever the family goes anywhere.