html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: I especially don't like the Bay Bridge, because the shipping lanes beneath are deep.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

I especially don't like the Bay Bridge, because the shipping lanes beneath are deep.

When I did taekwondo in undergrad, the team worked out every MWF from 7pm ‘til 10pm. On TTh, we worked out with the rest of the tkd community from 6pm ‘til 9pm. We were supposed to run stadiums three mornings a week, but sometimes I cheated and only ran a couple flat miles. Spending every weeknight at tkd didn’t get to me, because that’s how it had been since I was twelve. The workout that I sometimes resented was Saturday morning, from 10am ‘til 1pm. It just felt like there hadn’t been any time since I left the gym at 10:30 the night before; my legs were heavy and slow. We had no workout on Sundays, and by Sunday nights I was bouncing off the walls, couldn’t stand still, would hop in place just to burn energy.

I knew to the minute when I had to leave for workout. My bag was always packed, so I’d grab that, hop on my bike and fly down Bancroft to get to the gym. I always knew that rushed trip was far and away the most dangerous part of my life. No helmet, steep downhill, lots of traffic. I was sure for two years that I was pushing my luck and that I was likely to die on my way to tkd. When I moved to an apartment closer to the gym I breathed a sigh of relief that I had dodged that bullet.

I wear a helmet now that I’ve fallen off my bike and broken my arm. But I didn’t for years, which is ridiculous considering that I know four or five people who wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for their bike helmets and will stridently tell you so. But not wearing a bike helmet feels great and I didn’t want to for the longest time. I felt guilty about not wearing one, though. I went to excellent public schools in California for twenty-two years. For twenty-two years the state of California subsidized my education; they must have put two or three hundred thousand dollars into me. (I didn’t pay taxes for years because I was too poor. And now they pay me for my work! They will never get their money’s worth out of me.) The state should rightfully be pissed that I used to put all that at risk by not wearing a bike helmet.

Now that I wear a helmet and don’t weave in and out of traffic on steep downhills, I can’t say which part of my life is most likely to kill me. Not driving and eating well takes care of the biggest risk factors. I have a fear though. About once every two years I have a nightmare about drowning in my car. I have no idea where that came from; there was no childhood incident behind it. But I roll down my windows and unlock my doors when I drive over bridges, just to be prepared.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't your parents pay taxes? I'm not so convinced you owe the state anything for your education.

As far as helmets go, I think they're a good idea, depending on what you're doing. But, I'm not really a big fan of any requirements for such safety devices. I'd hate to see all of my favorite sports banned or regulated out of existence. Life is dangerous, people need to just get over it.

Oh, and the side windows in cars are designed to be easily broken out. You can even buy little tools to help break them in an emergency, and, if your car ends up in the water off of the Bay Bridge, chances are you're dead, or at least unconscious, on impact with the water anyway.

Justin

12:37 PM  
Blogger Dennis said...

If you have power windows, you might want to roll them down. But if you have manual windows, you might want to leave them up. They can keep your air pocket in place until you regain consciousness. Then, when you come to, you unbuckle, roll down your window, and swim up!

Tell the kids here about your "What can I do?" car accident story!

As for bike helmets, they're like flossing for me: I know they're a good idea, I just have trouble motivating to use them all the time. But before the CA helmet law for motorcycles was in place, I hated motorcycle riders who didn't wear helmets. I always thought they were the same losers who had no insurance, which meant my taxes were going to have to pay for their hospital head trauma.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

That's why I liked having manual windows in my previous car. Maybe they'll get the 'trapped in a flaming car' story sometime later.

1:09 PM  
Blogger ScottM said...

I never bothered with helmets (though I didn't have a chorus urging them either). My girlfriend urged it on me when she took up bicycling. It's habit now.

1:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw a 'demonstration' on 20/20 once; it showed that the windshield broke first in a sealed car. Gotta say -- wouldn't expect that one. -K.

8:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In what situation? If the car is in the water, the windshield won't go under until the car has filled with water, if the car has filled with water none of the windows are gonna break I don't imagine.

Justin

8:58 PM  
Anonymous scottb said...

Odd factoid - my sister, who's on her local VFD, suggested I carry a spring-loaded punch - like this (no affiliation) in the glovebox of our cars.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=4440214025&category=50380

They are apparently great for breaking safety glass in car windows.

Who knew?

ps As fun as it sounds, now that I don't have any spare car windows in my garage, I haven't tried this. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller??

9:50 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

I just carry a scuba tank in my trunk. When I crash into large bodies of water, I strap on the mask and leisurely make my way to the surface. Never fails!

6:32 AM  

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