hit by a car and then some

I got hit by a car yesterday afternoon. Then a whacked-out latina lady threatened to beat me up and steal my bike. Later, while watching jellyfish swim under a glacier at the Lumiere Theatre, I burst into tears.

Okay, let me back up a little.

Two weeks ago I bought a nice used bike from the guys next door at the Roll-Up. I’ve been having a lot of fun with this mountain bike-commuter type hybrid vehicle, particularly the parts where I can park almost wherever I want without a hassle and I get a crapton of exercise out of it. Whole new neighborhoods have opened up to me, while my wallet is staying nice and shut. In the Bay Area, bikes rule; I get it now.

Yesterday, I was cruising out of the Vulcan toward a meeting with the guy who wrote this book — I’m assisting him with putting together an internet marketing plan so he can become (in his words) “The Shell Answer Man” for everything to do with bodybuilding and dieting. It was about 2:40, and the 20-minute ride ahead of me to Awaken in downtown Oakland was going to put me right on my 3pm target.

I hadn’t even gotten as far as the first stop light from our warehouse when I saw, not 8 feet in front of me, a car quickly pulling out of the gas station on the corner. The driver hadn’t stopped to see if anyone was coming along the sidewalk. There was roughly half a second for my conscious mind to formulate a thought to the effect of, “ohh this does not look good at all,” and then WHAM!! — the car whacked right into my bike, hitting me at a 90-degree angle and flinging me into traffic.

My ninja reflexes kicked in and I did a roll-and-slap, which saved me from rolling further. My head hadn’t hit the ground at all, but the elbow of my right arm (the slapping arm) was scraped, and the inner thigh of my left leg had skidded along the street, causing a rather nasty long gash. I looked down at this stinging area with dismay — there’s now a huge hole in the bright blue American Apparel leggings I love so well, and I don’t think they make them anymore. Grrr.

Totally jarred but able to stand, 15 seconds later I felt like I’d been punched in the gut. I was in disbelief and anger. The lady driver of the late 80s junkmobile shouted at me, “Why did you ride into me??” I shouted back, “You drove into me! You weren’t looking!”

Meanwhile, a herd of Hispanic dudes — day laborers who hang out at this gas station all day — had made their way over to scope out the scene. Right on their heels were a couple of Latinas, one of whom asked me totally nonchalantly “are you okay”, and the other one…

The other one came at me like the Tasmanian devil, shouting “What you think you doing, huh? What you trying to do?” with the tenor of one who believes her relationship with the male of her choice being threatened.

Me: “UHhhh… I got hit by a car?”

She proceeds to continue ranting and threatening me with vague notions of violence, some of it delivered in Spanish that I only partially understood. The gist was that, by having stopped at HER gas station for more than a few seconds and obviously not buying gas, I was on HER turf… the fact of my having been hit by a car, with the evidence of my strewn personal belongings and overturned bicycle serving as no proof whatsoever of a reasonable excuse.
Amidst all of the above kerfuffle, the driver of the car that hit me was asking, “Are you alright?” which could be loosely translated as “Are you going to call a lawyer?” She was obviously scared.

I didn’t respond — I didn’t really know if I was alright. I was still partially doubled over, feeling like I got punched in the stomach (very similar to the feeling I had every morning when getting into the car on my commute to Palo Alto, not a happy era of my life), wondering if my insides were worse off than my outsides were showing.

To avoid chronifying an absurd situation, I will just say that the driver took advantage of the crazy Latinas and the fact that the well-meaning Hispanic dudes had moved my bike off the driveway, and she sped off. I didn’t have my contact lenses in, so I couldn’t see the license plate. Grr.

Back to the crazy lady. She continued to threaten while I fawned over my recovered bike and a nice Latino guy picked up my fallen key necklace. I finally got pissed off and stared her down.

The weird lady reacted by fondling her entire body, starting with her groin and then focusing on her push-up-bra-ensconced breasts, making half-mean, half-sexual moaning noises, as if she were summoning up her sexual energy for what might be a very enjoyable session of beating down on some hapless white girl. I did not feel hapless, however; I was standing there deciding whether to slug her, and wondering what the rest of the fight would be like.

Fortunately for everyone, the Hispanic dudes (who the crazy Latina probably thought were going to back her up) read the heated escalation and escorted her to the corner.

She resisted a little, saying things like, “ooh nice bike, I wonder how much I’d get for it”, and I said something like “Go get yourself a cup of manzanilla or something. Jeez.” But soon she did shuffle off to I know not where.

That still left me with the problem of a less-than-functional bike and rapidly shortening time to get to my meeting. While some of the nice dudes helped me figure out how to get the chain back on the gears and align the front brakes enough so that the front wheel — which had been knocked off kilter by the direct blow — would roll without scrubbing against the brake pad. (Have I mentioned “grr”?)

Sent by text to my author friend: “Hit by car. Be 20 minutes late.”

Delirious? Perhaps. Crazy? I don’t think so. More on that in a later post.

I got to my meeting at exactly 20 minutes past 3pm. I was delighted to find that a good friend and great yoga teacher of mine, Rich Risbridger, was present and eager to catch up. He gives good hugs.

My meeting went well. I got to recount the whole incident, and thought I felt better for having done so. The double-shot rice milk latte I was sipping was, however, adding to my jittery punched-in-the-gut feelings.

Later in SF I attended a somewhat exclusive pre-screening event of Encounters at the End of the World, a documentary destined for show on the Discovery Channel. I knew, after biking from the Civic Center BART to the Lumiere Theater at California and Polk, that my bike wasn’t right and neither was I. I aligned myself with the idea of full relaxation, knowing that the pictures of both beautiful and ugly desolation would pry uncomfortable feelings out of me.

It was about an hour into it when they showed clips of divers (the producer being one of them) swimming amongst all manner of weird creatures like ballooning jellyfish and long lanky starfish turning themselves inside out to swallow other weird creatures. I felt a primal sort of fear, and heard my consciousness declare “I was very scared”, and then the tears welled and there was a welcome release. Ten minutes of gentle crying later, I felt a lot better.

At the end of the movie, it turned out that the producer and several of the interviewed scientists and adventurers, including the ineffable Karen Joyce, were in attendance and answering questions (and in Karen’s case, voicing objections and complaints). I think Karen Joyce is someone I ought to meet. I wish I’d felt more myself, and less like I got punched in the gut; I would have made conversation.

At this point I’m rather drunk on some cheap red wine (I’ve been keeping a wine log, by the way, which you can also follow on my facebook profile), and expecting a good friend to join me soon. So I’d better cut this thing off, or at least move to the follow-up post as promised.

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