The world is a dangerous place, fraught with peril. Interestingly, much of this peril seems to stem from the actions of other human beings… My hope is that after reading the following blog post you will realize how true this is, and you will subsequently be paranoid of any and all encounters with other members of your species.
Just today I was nearly run down on two separate occasions by adolescent males on bicycles. The first cyclist I encountered while walking downhill on a four-foot-wide footpath; he came barreling up towards me, dinging his little handlebar bell frantically to signal his approach. I’m not sure what course of action he expected me to take, as there were people to my left and a fence to my right preventing any and all lateral movement…perhaps there was a hidden trapdoor at my feet that he was desperately trying to direct my attention to? In any case, I managed to save myself by pressing dramatically up against the fence to my right, thereby escaping without injury. (Side note: I chose not to press dramatically up against the people to my left, for obvious reasons.)
The next bicyclist appeared just a couple hundred yards later, jumping BMX-style down to my footpath from an elevated sidewalk. I must admit I was impressed by his incredible accuracy, as he somehow managed to land just inches from me, and I was the only human on the entire 100-foot-stretch of brick path. I escaped with my life by freezing in place and assuming a facial expression of shock and disdain. These anecdotes just go to show – you never know which moment may be the moment you are unceremoniously plowed down by a cyclist.
If you aren’t concerned for your life yet, don’t worry – the madness does not end here. Just last week I witnessed a motorcyclist in front of me trying to light a cigarette while riding in moving traffic (read: “Look Ma, no hands!”) This kid embodied the “Rebel Without a Cause” persona, or at least he probably thought he did: 19 or 20 years old, wearing a jean vest with a large Boy Scout-type emblem on the back (but he would be mortified that I just compared it to a Boy Scout patch), head wrapped in a black and white bandana, and apparently lacking the ability to grow facial hair…
I wasn’t inclined to judge him for smoking, except he went and decided to make his habit dangerous to others by slowing almost to a dead stop while he tried to light the cigarette in his mouth, then suddenly grabbing the handlebars and speeding up again just before his bike was about to fall over, finally releasing the handlebars once more to return to his cigarette and lighter. He seemed to be having difficulty with his hand-eye coordination because even after three start/stop attempts, the cigarette remained unlit… I contemplated running into him with my mini-SUV, but I realized that I simply didn’t have the time or energy to deal with a vehicular manslaughter charge, so I resorted to a honk. That did the trick: his cig immediately took the flame, allowing him to gracefully turn and flip me the bird before riding off into the sunrise.
If you’re not terrified yet, just wait. I haven’t even mentioned one of the most dangerous people out there: me. This summer I was babysitting some kids and took them to their gymnastic lessons at the local rec center. I was sitting meekly in the gift shop (why did they have a gift shop?) minding my own business while the children cartwheeled and tumbled and somersaulted and jumped in foam pits and sometimes just fell over for no reason at all. Suddenly, I looked to my right and saw one of the top five most adorable toddlers I have ever seen in my life. He was standing on his own, a little wobbly, and he was smiling at me! I couldn’t help but smile back and wave. He took a few unsure steps towards me and garbled some unintelligible greeting. I said hello back and held my hands out for him to walk over. He smiled even bigger and began to run towards me. This had the potential to be one of the best days of my life.
Then suddenly I stuck my foot out into his path and the poor child, unable to clear the obstacle in time, sprawled headlong onto the ground in front of me. I stared in horror while he burst into tears and his mother ran over to rescue him. I had just tripped a baby. I would swear in a court of law that it was an accident, but who knows, it could have been a reflexive action emanating from my subconscious, in which case I should probably consider seeking psychiatric care. I only tell this story to warn you that I am indeed a human you should watch out for.
I hope I’ve succeeded in making my point. What was it again? … Oh yes. Beware of humans: they can be hazardous to your health.
This has been a Public Service Announcement from Cassie
(Originally posted 9/26/13)