Manic Monday


Monday night was crazy.

Earlier in the day, Ann had sent me a picture of my wonderful neighbor — you already know I’m being fatuous — standing in the street next to his car. That is, his damaged car.

Turns out that another resident on our street came flying around the corner at their usual high rate of speed, lost control, and wiped out my neighbor’s car. They flipped their car twice after impact which shows you how ridiculously fast they were going, with a child in the back seat. All are fine and I’m sorry that kid has a mother that doesn’t take his safety into consideration when she gets behind the wheel. They are known for speeding on our street all the time.

Ann told me the sound of the accident was horrible as they usually are but being close to the scene made it sound worse. She was a bit shaken up by it all and I can’t say I blame her. Accidents are truly scary to hear, scarier to see, and even more scary to be in.

That’s when I enter the picture, about 7 miles away.

I was making my way home as usual, taking the same streets as I always do. Just another ho-hum ride home for me.

Then it happened.

Just as I passed an intersection, a car made a right turn into my lane on their red light. Contact was made and the impact threw my scooter out of control. Yes, I was on my scooter.

I went sideways for a moment before finally losing control and falling to the ground, rolling in the street maybe about four times at around 35 MPH. My helmet made contact with the asphalt and got scraped up pretty bad. The impact on the asphalt jammed my scooter’s center stand into the body and it is no longer usable. All of this happened within seconds.

And all I was thinking while I was rolling was “Hang on…hang on…just hang on…don’t let go.” The adrenaline was pumping anyhow and that’s probably what kept me going. The worst thing I could have done was panicked — and I didn’t. Macho man.

Once I stopped rolling and dusted myself off, then having a few choice words with the driver who hit me, I texted Ann the following: “I got hit. I’m fine. Exchanging information.” But with all the chaos happening outside our own house, she left her phone in the kitchen and didn’t get the message until much later.

Daylight was quickly fading into night.

In the midst of all of this, between police questioning and fire trucks and ambulances, I finally got a call from her to make sure I was okay. I assured her I was. Then I got one from Anthony and it was something I never want to hear again. He was absolutely hysterical but again, I was fine and I calmed him down.

My bodily damage? Minimal. I have a few spots of road rash on my left leg (DON’T EVER Google that if you’re not ready for it) and not much else. Thankfully, nothing is broken and I didn’t suffer a concussion with my head hitting the ground. The police made their report, the paramedics checked me out, and I refused to go to the hospital as I felt good enough to ride home, which is exactly what I did.

There are more details but that’s all I’m divulging. I don’t pay my insurance for nothing.

Since I started riding, I’ve always worn a video camera of some kind on my helmet. Not because I was doing stupid tricks to share on YouTube but for the one time I may need it. Plus it keeps my own self honest. And after two years of riding, I thought I was about as safe as they get: lane-splitting only at red lights, avoiding any kind of trouble, etc. I’d never had an accident; just a few close calls that were wiped clean from the memory card of my GoPro. Of course, I keep the clips of interesting things I’ve witnessed on the road.

The camera itself was an investment and a form of insurance provided anything ever happened. And so far I was certain that I’d never need any footage recorded with it.

That was until Monday night. The point of impact, me rolling several times in the street, my feet flying up in the air, my brand new Vans shoes being ruined.  It’s all on there and…well, remember what I said earlier about being in an accident? Try having yours recorded. It really makes you sit back and think.

But perhaps the most gut-wrenching feeling I had was when Anthony called me, crying like never before. There I was with flashing lights all around me trying to reassure him that everything was going to be okay. Easy for me to say.

But I’d heard that cry in the past, and it was from me in 1976 when Mom got the call that Dad had passed away at the hospital. It absolutely tore me up.

And that was it. That ride home on my scooter would be my last.

I took Tuesday off so that I could take care of business. First, I submitted my insurance claim to see if it would cover any damage to my scooter. As of this post, the other guy has yet to contact their insurance or make a claim. I get the feeling they won’t, but that’s when the GoPro footage will come in handy. My company already has a copy of it and all they have to do is send it over to the other insurance company.

Second, I cancelled the insurance on the motorcycle and it’s going to sit in the garage until I can find a buyer. Yes, I’m getting rid of it. I do, however, plan to keep the scooter only because I’m so deep into it with the credit card that was used to pay for it. I won’t get much for it anyhow, and even less now that it’s been in an accident. I don’t know the extent of any damage to the body of my scooter so I’ll have to have it checked.

Third, I went out and got myself a car. I wasn’t kidding when I said I was done riding. It’s a 2015 Nissan Versa Note and I have to admit that since Nissan pays me (although I don’t work for them directly), there’s a sense of pride being behind the wheel of their product. I already know everything about it and I just got it.

Granted the payments aren’t exactly what we negotiated but it’s a small price to pay for my own safety. There’s no doubt I’ll miss riding and all that goes with it, but when I got the scooter it was meant to be a temporary fix until we could find another solution. And it worked, until Monday night.

And I’m willing to hang it up and put all of it behind me.


Because I’m not putting my family through this kind of misery ever again.

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The Sky Is Falling


JobuEvery 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.

Photo Feb 18, 6 20 54 PM

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.

Photo Feb 18, 6 22 58 PM

And everybody thought that a driver was going to take me out?

Wrong!

*A cager is rider-speak for anybody in a car. Hey, don’t take offense. I’m still one whenever the family goes anywhere.

Another DMV Visit


As some of you may know, I haven’t had much luck in passing my motorcycle skills exam. In fact, I’ve failed it twice (and you can read the reasons why both here and here).

But today was different. I knew I was going to pass it and with flying colors. Or so I thought.

I took some time off of work to squeeze in my DMV appointment and still managed to get in some hours once I was done. And you know what? Even though I had a scheduled an appointment well in advance and only had to take a simple skills test, I accomplished absolutely nothing during my visit.

Here’s how it all went down.

But first, this. Now that I’m on two wheels, parking at the DMV isn’t as bad as it used to be. There are designated areas for motorcycles and more often than not, they are empty. And now that the other local office is going under refurbishment, the traffic at this particular location is ridiculous – if you’re in a car. As for me, I whiz right by the lines of cars waiting for parking spaces and pull into the motorcycle spot. It’s like nobody is there.

That’s until you get inside.

Anyway, once inside, I was directed to Window 30 since I already had my appointment scheduled. When I finally got helped, it started off rather painless. I told the clerk why I was there and handed him the necessary documents: my permit, registration, and proof of insurance. Simple. I’d be done in to time.

But then things hit a snag.

The clerk was carefully inspecting my proof of insurance and registration. Just when I was about to ask if there was anything wrong, he spoke up.

“Do you have any other documentation on your bike,” he asked. Why would I? What more could you possibly need or, in this case, what more would I need to carry on my bike in the event I ever needed any of it?

“No, I don’t. Why?”

He took off his glasses.

“Look at the VIN on both of these. They don’t match.”

Say WHAT?

I grabbed them both and, using those keen proofreading skills that got me out of that grocery store job, read them both. They matched until I got to the last six digits.

“…oooh. I see,” I said. The VIN on the registration was correct. The insurance? Although the make and model matched mine, the numbers didn’t. He then spoke again and, considering I’d taken some time off work to get this crap done, gave me news I really didn’t need to hear.

“Unfortunately, I can’t let you take the exam if these don’t match.”

But I can see his point. Technically, I had no insurance on the bike which obviously doesn’t go over well with them and at this point, I started to feel like one of those seedy people I see waiting at the DMV because it was almost like I was trying to pull a fast one over on him.

Okay, I get that. But wait. Remember I said that this would have been my third time taking the exam? I thought about this after he told me I couldn’t proceed. I got a *little* bit agitated once I figured things out.

“So wait. You mean to tell me that I took the exam twice already with the same documentation and nobody noticed anything?”

It’s obvious that the previous two clerks who let me take the exam weren’t exactly dotting their I’s and crossing their T’s. Then again, I wouldn’t expect anything less from those who work at the DMV (much like the USPS or any other government agency).

The clerk began to apologize as I tried to remain calm.

“And I can’t check anything right now because our computer system is down,” he said. Hey, now there’s a total surprise – their system was down. “But if you want to wait about 15 minutes…”

I’d had enough – and was annoyed. “No, I don’t. I already wasted a day of work. I expected to get something done today but I guess not.”

He handed me my registration and insurance card and I began to walk away, but not before he called me back to tell me I had forgotten my permit.

At that point, I almost told him to keep the damn thing. But I’ll get to that later.

So I gave Ann a call once I left the building and told her to double-check everything with Big Insurance Provider to make sure it’s kosher. (Since the annual premium on the scooter is so cheap, we pay it in full.)

After I hung up with Ann, my mind started going again and I thought of two more things. First, if I had been riding since July 2014 and never changed any of the information on my insurance, it seems to me that the premium we paid was going toward covering some else’s scooter. Right? This sure wasn’t my VIN on there but when entered on the Big Insurance Provider’s website, it comes up as the same make and model as mine. Really weird. I guess we didn’t think twice about it and could be partially to blame for this whole mess.

That, or Big Insurance Provider screwed up. I’ll go with that.

Second, being I had the wrong number on there, I had technically been riding all this time without insurance. But hey, at least I was permitted, right?

Ahem.

Once I got home, there was an email waiting for me from our provider with my new insurance card attached – the one with the correct information that I had relayed to Ann while I was still at the DMV. I printed it out, stuck it under my seat, and rode to work.

So now, after all that, I have to schedule yet another appointment to take the exam and hope that I pass it just so the state can add two little digits onto my existing license: M1.

Now, about the dismissal of my permit at the DMV. I have been in the market for a new bike for some time now and have gone to a few different dealers. I struck up a conversation with a salesman at the last one I visited on Monday regarding all the BS you need to go through to take the exam and its overall difficulty.

“A buddy of mine rode for nearly 40 years without an M1 license before he finally took the exam. And he didn’t pass it,” he told me.

At my current age of 46, I don’t intend to be riding (or for that matter, still breathing) when I’m 86. But considering what a mess this whole examination process has become, riding without the endorsement is beginning to sound like a good idea.

After all, this dude did it for almost 40 years. And that would mean one less DMV visit I’d have to make.

ARGH!


I guess you could call me SpongeBob.

If you’re not familiar with the show, one of its running gags is that SpongeBob is a terrible driver and has failed every single behind-the-wheel driving exam he’s taken, much to the dismay of Mrs. Puff. He’s even ended up inadvertently putting her in prison because of his poor driving skills. It’s a long story.

Anyway, you might recall my euphoria way back in July 2014 when, after studying really hard in the hopes of passing the written exam, I obtained my permit. That permit, despite a few restrictions, granted me the right to ride my scooter legally for one year and in the meantime, gave me time to schedule an appointment at the local DMV so that I could take my skills exam.

I did indeed take my skills exam in March 2015 – and I failed it miserably.

So here we are on July 28, 2015. I had scheduled my DMV exam a few weeks ago for this day, the day before my permit expires.

I’ll admit that it was probably a case of bad nerves that made me screw up the first time. I went into the exam with little to no practice and wasn’t quite prepared for it. But this time, I decided to do something much different.

Last Sunday I rode over to the local DMV to ride their test track so that I could get a good feel for it without being stressed out about it. They even left the cones out for some reason.

IMAG0758-01

I had the track all to myself to practice so I took advantage of it. After about 10 runs of the Serpentine Ride (weaving between the cones), I was confident in my ability. In fact I didn’t hit a single cone the whole time I was there so I was pretty happy about that.

Then came the Slow Ride in which you start in the right lane, ride around the circle at the end twice, then end in the left lane. That was a bit more challenging.

But after a few runs, I had figured out that if I didn’t touch my front brake, the bike wouldn’t suddenly stop and pull me out of the circle. (Riding on the lines is fine but going outside or inside the circle is an automatic disqualification.) Not only that, but if I throttled up at the last cone, the momentum would carry me about halfway through the circle. A few more tried and I had this one down perfectly.

With the Serpentine Ride mastered, I started the Slow Ride. Again, laying off the front brake worked wonders and I eventually got the hang of it. I was going to kill my exam this time.

I then came home and drew a huge circle – the exact dimensions, no less – in my neighbor’s driveway so that I could practice even more before today’s exam. I was going to pass no problem because I could now ride at least five times around the circle before falling out or putting my foot down.

My appointment was at 1:45 and I was ready. And because I had already taken it once, I had to pay a $7 re-test fee which I could have easily lied about because my previous DMV witness didn’t write my results on the permit as they are required to do. Had I known that, I would have probably told them this was my first time.

So I get in line and there was a guy ahead of me with his shiny BMW motorcycle who didn’t even acknowledge me, most likely because I was riding a scooter. Whatever, dude.

He failed the second he entered the circle when he put his foot down. He then complained that the circle was smaller than at the DMV office where he practiced. The DMV official wasn’t impressed.

“They’re all the same size,” he said as he marked the results of his exam on his permit. “Go inside and schedule another appointment.”

Off you go.

Then it was my turn and on boy, was I ready. The instructor was really cool and probably a rider himself with how he was speaking to me and the previous guy.

So how did I do? The Serpentine Ride was perfect. Flawless. Unbelievably simple. The instructor even gave me the thumbs up when I was done. Just one more to go and that M1 license would be mine.

I started the Slow Ride. In the right lane, no problem. Around the circle once, no problem. Around the circle again…problem. Watch what happens at 0:59 of the video.

No. NO. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

One more turn and I would have had it. I don’t know what the hell happened to make me swerve into the circle. I didn’t hit the front brake. I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary.

Whatever the case, the instructor let out a loud “OH NO!” the second I fell inside the circle and unlike my previous exam, he wouldn’t give me a second chance which I thought was kind of lame. My first exam, I put my foot down which is an automatic DQ but they let me go again. What does it matter if I drifted out of the circle for three feet this time? I was literally 99.5% through the exam and had only one section to go. Why not give me another chance or better yet, just pass me so I can get this over with? I showed him I could do this.

Nothing doing. He marked the Slow Ride a DQ. After all this practice, one minor mishap killed me. I was NOT happy about this because with my permit expiring, I now have to pay for and take the written exam again (already scheduled) and then take the skills exam again.

ARGH. Just unbelievable.

The good thing is that scooter riders aren’t exactly tops on the list of people to get pulled over. So I have that going for me for the next few weeks, which is nice.

I’m on Bing Maps


About two months ago, I saw a Bing Maps surveyor and decided to follow it for a bit because I thought it would be funny to eventually see myself on the street maps.

Well, tonight I checked the maps to see if they had updated them. They did.

But first, take a gander at the video I shot and posted on Instagram. I always have my camera going when I’m on my scooter because you never know.

Now here I am behind the Toyota RAV4, sitting at the stop sign.

bing

I guess I should have waved at it for maximum effect but I didn’t even think about it. Oh well.

To see the precise location, click here. Note that you will probably need to view it in IE since Bing is Microsoft, Silverlight, blah blah blah.