Tuesday, May 12, 2009

still in shock

I fell off my bike yesterday. I understand this may not come as a surprise to some, as I believe I give the e-impression here that I'm 1) functionally retarded and 2) drunk all the time. However, for those who've seen me cycle, I'm hoping you're at least a little bit shocked.

"But Marissa, you're all dexterous and sh*t! You dangerously weave in and out of traffic with such a cool, nonchalant, devil-may-care demeanor! In fact, you're kind of like this guy!"

I know, I know. So when I mounted my bicycle yesterday and readied for the first pedal, I was as surprised as you were that just seconds later I was sprawled out like a chalk outline with my bike resting on top of me as if it just Ram Jam'd me (I watched The Wrestler yesterday -- it was so good it affected my similes). I was pinned, confused and, most of all, stunned.

But not stunned about the fall. As soon as the pedal didn't cooperate and I heard a snap, I knew I was about to bite it. Although that moment lasted a mere nanosecond, it occurred in my mind in slo-motion. I saw myself tip over and knew I could do nothing to stop it. I was going down.

When I thumped to the ground and realized I hadn't seriously injured myself, save for a couple of superficial scrapes and a gnarly elbow bruise, I immediately became concerned with my bicycle. The chain was completely disembodied from the gears. It was no longer circular, but in the shape of a long metal snake. It was dead.

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" I screamed (really), as I realized this was pretty much the worst timing ever for something like this to happen. I had just 10 minutes to get to the sex shop, where I planned to risk getting fired by ignoring customers and instead reading I Was A Teenage Dominatrix, one of the lovely pieces of literature we sell.

Onlookers, however, heard a scream of pain and to my visible shock, not one but TWO people rushed over to -- wait for it -- HELP.

"Are you OK?" asked a woman waiting outside for a delivery. She came over and lifted the bike off of my akimbo limbs.

Seconds later I heard, "Are you all right?" The words uttered from the larynx of a young guy cycling by who stopped mid-pedal to check up on the situation. "Are you hurt?"

I had no idea how to respond. I mean, I'm pretty sure these people were being nice. And since when are residents of Washington, DC, nice? All I could think was, "What the...?"

After several seconds of confusion, I answered them. "I'm OK. Thank you for your help, though. I really appreciate it. I mean, it's not often that people reach out here and your concern is really touching and..."

As I stammered on in shock, both individuals slowly backed away, probably thinking I was legitimately insane, especially when I started giddily laughing. But I couldn't help it! I just couldn't believe what was happening. PEOPLE WERE BEING NICE! This was revelatory! In my two years slumming here I've noticed most people won't help you unless there's something in it for them, such as the promise beating someone with a stick once you catch them. But in this situation, no one was about to beat my bike with a stick, at least that I noticed. More importantly, no one wanted to beat me with a stick. Although, since I reacted in a such a crazy, borderline psychotic way, I'm wondering now if these nice folks feared I was going to beat them with a stick...hmm...that would be a shame...

But beating anybody or thing with a stick aside, it's important to note that this was a simple act of kindness -- a simple act of kindness IN DC. This is a big deal.

In the end, I gathered my bike's pieces and walked it to City Bikes in Adams Morgan where they were able to fix 'er up right while I waited. I arrived to work just 30 minutes late, which left me just enough time to follow through with my plan to read I Was A Teenage Dominatrix cover-to-cover by 10 p.m. (By the way, if you ever find yourself working in a sex shop for 4.5 hours with nary a thing to do except ignore customers, I highly recommend this book.)

In all, not a bad day. I learned a lesson (if you want people to be nice to you, hurt yourself) and I made $10.66. Wait a second...d'oh!


Lemmonex said...

Ouch. I am a huge klutz and I am sure I would fall off my bike on the regular if I had one.

And "The Wrestler"? Holy shit. Love. Not exactly what I thought it would be, but very moving. No one else but Rourke could play that role.

Beach Bum said...

I've fallen more than I should admit since switching to clipless pedals... Now it seems like I'm finally getting the hang of it. Yep, almost a year later...

I find that bikers in general are VERY nice to one another. I've seen people fall on trails and bikers stopping to help, I've seen people with flats and people helping out as well, and anytime you're stopped at a side of a trail trying to figure out WTF is going on with your bike, a biker slows down and offers help.

Now pedestrians and other people are not as nice. When I had a bad fall last year when traffic came suddenly into a stop in front of me and I couldn't unclip my feet on time, the garage workers who witnessed it, were laughing like crazy, making fun of me -- despite my leg being completely covered in blood (falling on pavement is not fun).

Peter said...

$10.66 is hardly enough to party like a fireman parties.

Anonymous said...

I think you should buy a new bike. There are both "good" people and "bad" people everywhere!

Anonymous said...

Wow. I think one of my biggest fears, here in the city, is falling off of my bike in traffic, or being taken out by a car door. People drive crazy here, and I don't ride my bike on the sidewalk, because, well, that's a no no. Glad you're alright.

Ned Schneebly said...

I fought the pavement, and the pavement won. But I'm going to keep trying.

However, I've never snapped a chain!

You must have quads of doom. Your gluteus maximuses (gluteus maximi?) must ripple magnificently when you're rocking the Pugeot.

Nice mud prophylactic, by the by.

Velvet said...

And I remember how excited you were when you bought that bike! Sniff sniff. Glad you're okay and didn't faceplant under a cab. Because the outcome would have been much different.

Patty Duke said...

Glad you're ok. Asa far as people being nice in DC, this could be a turning point. Or you might have to move to N.E. We are nice over here.

Marissa said...

lemmonex: Rourke was SO GOOD in that roll. He was born to Ram Jam.

beach bum: Totally agree. I guess we help each other. And everyone else just laughs. I've never had pedals with clips...I really want to try them out though.

peter: I do what I can to get by.

anon: I know that. There's just a higher concentration of them here for some reason. I think it's because people are scared of each other, not necessarily because they're mean. And buying a new bike right now would hardly make sense for me. Not because I can't afford it (if I put in 296 extra hours at the sex shop I could get one), but because of forthcoming plans...that may not have me biking around DC.

Marissa said...

cuttingkeyboard: Well, I fell in my building's drive way, which is super embarrassing, but way more awesome then falling in front of moving traffic...thank you, bike.

ned: Well, I have quads of steel now. I biked, like, 25 miles today. Because I have nothing else to do. Eh. Could be worse. Could have a real job. Gross.

velvet: Oh I will always love ol' Baguette, even through her breakdowns. As long as those breakdowns aren't in the middle of traffic...

patty: Yeah, if I was looking to stay here for any good length of time from here onwards, I'd definitely move east.