What it’s like to fall off a scooter on Mission Street
Don’t tell my mom or sister about this piece — I don’t want them to know that a mere hour ago my body slid across Mission Street like a figure skater gliding across ice. My “skating” move today was completely horizontal in position, and the “ice” in question was grizzled asphalt soaked in stale dirt, engine grease and trace amounts of human bodily refuse.
An hour ago I fell off my scooter.
I have so many options right now: Go to the drug store and buy some bandages (meh). Tell my roommates what just happened (melodramatic). Rub coconut oil all over myself (done). At the moment, it only seems appropriate to sit here and type. It’s informative, it’s cathartic, and it’s mildly self-masturbatory. In the most healing way.
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It’s warm out today! Perfect timing to ride to work in shorts and a t-shirt. Gloves? Na.
The jaunt down Gough Street was your typical shit show. Construction galore, a jaywalking extravaganza, a circus of Smart Cars honking about something or other. One particular Smart Car, a yellow one, was deliriously honking at me for lane-splitting in a way that must have been offensive to his/her tiny sensibilities. I waved a peace sign and ignored the drama.
That left me a bit ungrounded. Was I rude? Was the car driven by a chronic complainer? Is it still a peace sign if it’s backwards, knuckles facing its recipient?
My head in a cloud of vehicular neurosis, something weird occurred involving a big truck and the side of my scooter. It happened quick. There was some jerking. Movement was brisk. Wobbling at 30 miles per hour in a blurry jungle of sounds, colors and exhaust fumes.
What I do clearly remember is the “oh shit” moment and every single thing thereafter. “This is happening. I am about to lose control and fall.” I did, and the sliding-across-the-asphalt bit was one of those surreal experiences that you never forget, like when you open your parachute during a skydiving run and the world just comes to a grinding halt.
I’m sliding. Time becomes molasses, and the feeling of my knees and elbows acting as brake pads on the gritty road is a rich feast for the senses. “This is happening right now. I am sliding down the street wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Wow, so this is what this feels like. It doesn’t hurt at all. But I know these gashes are going to be deep, very deep. Please God, let this end well.” My favorite part was how delectably smooth it all was.
Here’s why I love San Francisco: Within seconds I’m surrounded by angels of all colors and shapes and forms. They’re all smiling and showering me with help.
I look up. There’s my bike on its side, and in my mind Mission Street is balanced between being a stage set existing only for my own debacle and a street that continues on not giving a flying fuck about what just happened. To make things interesting, I’m literally 15 feet away from a garage called Mr. Scooter.
My episode comes to a close inside of a little construction office right next to where this went down. A woman named Jaybird empties half of the office’s first aid kit nursing my wounds while the company dog earnestly licks the ones on my leg, either very hungry or just showering me with puppy love. I decide it’s the latter.
I get back on my bike, which starts up immediately. Never mind the shattered rearview mirror, the now-dangling headlamp, or the deep gashes in the side of the bike’s body mirroring the deep gashes in the side of my body.
I do not stop by Mr. Scooter. Instead, I drive home with the caution of an 85 year old with cataracts. I lay on my bed doing E.F.T. for half an hour, rub coconut oil all over myself, ponder what gift to send to Jaybird & Company, and start typing.
(FYI, this post was originally written in July)