Here in Ontario (as in much of North America) we have this thing called Daylight Savings Time. Judging by that name, it means that we arbitrarily set clocks forward by one hour in the spring, then roll them back again in the fall. The link I provided above probably includes an explanation as to why we do it, but I'm not even going to scan it, because I know I'll have forgotten the reasons come morning.
Even so, since the clocks rolled back very early (either 0201 or 0101, depending on your point of view) this past Sunday morning, I've had not one, but three near death experiences. And so, being of a fairly primitive — or should I say intuitive? — mathematical constitution, when I see three of anything in a short time, I see pattern. And I jump to hypotheses, if not to conclusions?
Could the fact of the "time change" have thrown people's good sense off?
- Item: Coming back from Montreal on Monday morning, I was driving west on Davidson Road, approaching the intersection with Bank Street. For a wonder, the light was green and so I did not step on the brake, but instead carried on. Nevertheless, with mental caution. In the opposite lane, and turning left, was a dump truck. Through many thousands of kilometres, I believe I have developed some driver's intuition, some facility with reading the body language of motor vehicles, and even from a few hundred metres away, there was something not-quite-right about this truck (I've had a Bad Experience with a dump truck before, which might have something to do with it too). And so it was that, when that monster's driver decided to turn left as I was crossing the intersection at 80 kilometres per hour, I had checked my right side-mirror and new it was safe to swerve in order to avoid that metal saurian's nose crashing into my vehicle's left side.
"JeZUZ kerIST!" quoth Young Geoffrey, as he watched the beast blithely make its turn in his rear-view mirror. When he apologized to his passengers, the senior flight attendant was not offended. "That's okay," she said, "that was a legitimate reason to swear."
Well, shit happens, eh? I shrugged it off.
But today ...
- Item: I'd dropped off my crew and was heading north on Uplands towards the gas station on Hunt Club. Ahead of me, a white sedan pulled into the left-turn lane, signal flashing. Clearly, going to the airport.
Or not. Once again, there was something, some hesitation, not quite right with the vehicles body language. I checked my right-side mirror and raised my right foot, let it hover over my brake. And not shit, buddy decided he didn't want to turn after all. Without even shutting off his left-turn indicator, he swerved right, maybe five metres in front of me.
If that dump-truck would have sent me and my flight attendants to the hospital at best, my van would have totalled buddy's passenger car.
Fortunately, I was paying attention. I leaned hard on the horn and just as hard on the brake. He heard me and stopped his ill-advised merge, saving me from crumpling his right side like a proverbial accordion. I cursed, shook my fist in the idiot's direction, then carried on my way, figuring that was it.
But if bad luck comes in threes, so to does good. Or maybe, paying attention can help to render bad luck moot.
- Item: So there I was. The van was full, the airport behind me, and I on my bicycle was making the transition from the Airport Parkway to Bronson Avenue, a relatively complex interchange that includes a few merges near which I see, not infrequent, the broken plastic and metal results of people not paying attention.
Fortunately for me, I was.
This time, the idiot was coming from the right. I watched as the vehicle paused (as it should have, yielding the right of way at a merge) to let an oncoming car ... come on. And I watched ... as the driver then proceeded to move, utterly oblivious to my flashing headlight or my brightly-coloured reflective safety vest.
Had I not been paying attention, my speed and hers were such that she would have hit me with her passenger door, possibly sending my hurtling into oncoming traffic. The collision wouldn't have killed me but the after-effects might have.
Fortunately (again!) I was paying attention.
My bike is old. No bells that I've tried actually fit the handlebars. But bells are slow to use anyway. And in a crisis, I don't want my hands to leave my brake levers or handle-bars.
"Ting TING FUCKING TING," I roared, as I squeezed my breaks and (having previously checked my left side) swerved a bit to my left. But the driver — a woman perhaps in late middle age — heard my makeshift klaxon and slammed on her own brakes, allowing me to release mine and carry on.
That that third close call, or near-miss, released a fucking flood of adrenaline, I'll tell you that much for the cost only of having read everything that came before. When I got home, I felt physically exhausted, and emotionally drained.
Stress, they name is Idiot Driver.
For fuck sakes, people, when you're moving at high speeds, pay attention.
And now, to bed ...
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