April 02, 2007

The Crucial Importance Of A Back Blinky

It’s 6am. It’s early. It’s dark. It’s cold. Well, not that cold. But it’s dark. And that usually makes it seem colder. So let’s make believe its cold.

I’m tired. Mostly from last night’s six hours of restless sleep. I’m really an eight hours guy. Not seven hours, not seven and a half hours and definitely not six hours. Eight. I need eight.

But I also need to go for my long bike ride this morning because I can’t do it this weekend. Hence the early wake-up call. And hence part deux, here I am at 6am on this dark, faux-cold morning hoisting my leg over my saddle and pedaling out into the abyss.

I have a headlight on my bike. I don’t use it much because I don’t usually ride a lot before the sun comes up. The headlight sucks. It really isn’t lighting up the road at all. Mental note: put “new bike light” on my Christmas wish list.

But no matter how much my headlight sucks, my rear red blinky is even worse. Anytime I hit a bump in the road, the blinky goes out. When you’re riding your bike in the wee dark hours of the morning and the only people driving cars are either too drunk or too tired to pay close attention, a functional back blinky is a very important element in safe riding.

Catherine let me borrow her back blinky for my ride this morning. Her back blinky is pretty big, very visible and doesn’t shut off in fear. I feel safer with this blinky. Thank you Catherine, my patron saint of blinkies.

There aren’t a lot of cars out in LA at this early hour of the morning. I do one six-mile loop in the area and then start heading down Ocean Avenue towards the eventual sunrise. The sun’s still sleeping though, just like most normal people in this city.

I finally approach the traffic light at the corner of Ocean Avenue and Venice Blvd. The light is red, so I stop. I’m not sure why the light is red, there is nobody else out on the road anywhere around me. But it is red.

Catherine doesn’t like how I sometimes ride through red lights in situations like this. She’s not with me physically this morning, more in spirit. Or, rather, in blinky – a flashing angels beacon to guard me from behind. So I stop and wait for the light to turn green.

I get lost in my early morning nothingness.

I’m really not paying attention to my surroundings, so I never even hear the car approaching from behind me. As it begins to zip by me, I jerk my head over in fear. It is a dark car, black or a very deep brown. Old and dented. One of those generic cars you can see anywhere, maybe a late 80s or early 90s Ford Something-or-Other. Maybe even a Buick. I’m not sure.

What really gets me is the front-end. Mostly how it is all smashed in and folded over as if the car had run into a telephone pole. It is peculiar.

What makes it ever the more peculiar is when the car plows through the red light without even slowing down. I suppose my heart nearly jumps.

Something inside of me feels like that dented front end happened recently. Perhaps it is an innate feeling. Perhaps it is compounded by the red light running at this time of morning. Mostly, though, it is because the pieces of the car are still falling off as it zips by me. I look on the ground as a chunk of the front grill rolls to a stop by my foot.

Peculiar indeed. By the time I think of checking the license plate, the car is too far down the road for me to see. So I glance at my watch. 6:43am. I want to remember this time in case anybody asks me in the future. 6:43am. I repeat that to myself so I won’t forget.

6:43 am.

I continue on my ride and nearly forget about the incident. I get home at 8:30, take a quick shower and jump in my car for my morning appointment. I call Catherine while I am driving.

Thank God you’re ok, she says.


I was so worried about you, she continues. I didn’t think it was you, but you never know. I was so scared.

What are you talking about?

Didn’t you hear? There was a hit and run this morning. A guy in his 20s died. They don’t know who did it.

Whaaat?! What time? I ask frantically.

Somewhere around six-ish, she says. But it wasn’t where you were. It was on Pacific Coast Highway, just up from Ocean Avenue.


Are you serious?! I say. You’re not going to believe what happened to me…

I tell her my story. About the traffic light, and the speeder, and the bent grill, and the falling parts and me checking the time and….

Do you think it was him?

I don’t know, she says. You should call the police, though, and tell them.

I did just that. Shortly thereafter I did call the police and let them know about the traffic light, and the generic car, and the dents, and the falling grill and 6:43am. It was 6:43am, I said. I know it for sure. 6:43am. No I didn’t get a license plate. But I know without question that it was 6:43 am. Yes, it was dark out. I was just sitting there at the traffic light. Just me, my crappy headlight and my back blinky. For the first time in ages, I had a functional back blinky. Maybe it even saved my life.


stronger said...

Patron Saint and Guardian Angel. Hope your assistance helps nab the bad guys!

jbmmommy said...

Wow, that's a scary thought. Glad you're alright, too bad for that other rider and his family. I hope they find that guy and he gets what he deserves.

IM Able said...


Matt said...

That's crazy and scary. Wow.

Andra Sue said...

Did you ever find out if they caught the guy who did the hit and run? Did it make the news, etc.?

j. said...

the hit-and-run made the news but i don't think they ever caught the guy. or if they did, i haven't heard about it.

and, as an update, i have yet to hear back from the police which makes me think that the car I saw was just some random red-light running, grill smashed in, reckless driver at 6:43am.

Robin said...

Wow, there but for the grace of God, and a blinky...

Glad that one passed you by.