by Bill Kistner
There are some lessons that life decides you need to learn again. One sunny morning, not so long ago, life treated me to one of those lessons.
Now, we all should know (and though it seems I forgot, I did know) that traffic lanes can be quite slippery at traffic lights. Anyone who has ever come close to falling over when putting their foot in some sort of slippery black stuff while waiting at a light can attest to that! Further, both you and I know that the road is also slicker near gas stations. Gas and diesel by themselves are pretty slippery, but when combined with the oil that makes up a good part of asphalt, they can become absolutely treacherous!
It seems odd then, that on this beautiful spring morning I should allow myself to become caught up in the fact that I was running about fifteen minutes late for work. Rushing, in and of itself, can create enough of a distraction, and this I also knew. Still, rush I did. So there I was, waiting impatiently in a line of traffic at the intersection of Route 650 and Route 108 in Ashton, Maryland. The light turned green and we started to move, but not very quickly. As time dragged on, and the line of cars in front of me wasn’t making a lot of progress, I started to worry about the prospect of not making the light. Giving in to my irrational fears of what sorts of retribution might await if I arrived late, I decided to “bunch up” with the car in front of me so I could squeeze through the light.
This was not a good decision. I knew this then, in the back of my mind. I’ve preached to others the foolishness of this action as well as the foolishness of being in a hurry. Yet, I bunched.
A moment later there occurred one of those “chain reaction” events that happen so often at rush hour. Someone several cars ahead hit the brakes. As everyone was performing the same “bunch up” maneuver as I was, each car behind him hit the brakes a bit harder than the car in front of them, until the accordian got to me. I wasn’t going very fast, 5 to 10mph tops, when I hit the front brake hard to avoid the already too close rear bumper of the car in front of me. Instantly, the front wheel locked on the slick tarmac, and seemingly “more” instantly, I found myself smacking the ground on my right side. Ouch!
Fortunately, I wear a full face helmet. Also fortunately, no one ran into me during their attempt to stop short of me or my bike. I was unhurt except for a cut finger (my wedding band) and a severely bruised ego. My bike, though the fall was light, sustained damage to its handlebars, fuel tank, right side foot peg, and muffler. Harley parts aren’t cheap, I can tell you!
And so, life taught me once again that which I already knew. Ride safely out there, guys and girls. My moment of poor judgment could have cost me far more than the $1,000 or so in parts it took to fix my scoot. Complacency kills!