Yesterday, a co-worker grilled me at length about my 2011 accident, its aftermath, and my “irrational” (to her) continued devotion to bike riding. By the end of our chat, she was: (a) amazed that I appeared “so functional” — minor tics/issues notwithstanding, (b) surprised that I do not suffer any long-term headache or dizziness issues, and (c) actually supportive of my continued dedication to cycling.
A few short hours later, however, I found myself suffering from a very serious fucking headache and a dizzy spell and also questioning just w.t.f. I was thinking wrt to riding.
Cripes. This blows.
When “A” asked me about the whole headache/dizziness issue, I told her that after the 47 staples were removed from my skull, I’ve really only encountered headaches when subjected to sustained, prolonged bass noise without benefit of my noise-cancelling headphones (or at least earplugs). And dizziness only happens if I’m subjected to strobe lights or don’t remain diligent about taking my B-12 supplement. Having knowledge of these “triggers” enables me to generally avoid them by carefully considering my environment/resources.
I also told “A” that my doctors had very strongly cautioned me to avoid stress and cultivate calm/mindfulness within myself as much as possible so as to keep my brain on an even keel. I took this medical mandate quite seriously, devoting considerable effort to developing solid resilience skills. Accordingly, I have been a world-champion imperturbable Zen-master for the last 3+ years.
I’m going to puke.
Yesterday, however, my Zen was utterly shattered in a wholly unpredictable and highly dramatic manner. Just minutes after I left the office, I was pummeled by a veritable tsunami of stress and rage that resulted in a vomit-inducing, mightier-than-a-migraine headache.
This suffering arose from a Facebook post:
When I read the headline, my heart started pounding and my mind began to slowly process the following thought:
Are. You. Fucking. Kidding me?
When I finished reading the story, my heart was racing and my head was exploding, as the following thought kept racing uncontrollably through my mind:
Are you fucking kidding me?! Are you fucking kidding me?! Are you fucking kidding me?! Are you fucking kidding me?!
I am reasonably certain that I haven’t used this phrase (Are you fucking kidding me?!) even once since my brain bashing. Sure, I still drop F-bombs like a muthafucka, but that phrase, that incredulous, rage-fueled, uncontrollable, inconsolable phrase: Are you fucking kidding me?! — no, my Zen-ness has been more than vast enough to contain the angst that underlies that phrase.
What is the point?
As I drove from my office to my bike shop (to attend a launch party for my friend’s new line of women’s cycling gear — it’s totally awesome, btw, So check it out, ladies, your ass and hoo-ha will thank you immensely!) my head felt like it might truly explode. I had not felt such pain since I was in the hospital. Stress really IS bad for you. Not only did it cause me to pull my car over so that I could puke, it also caused me to text my coach to say (among other things) “all I want to do is throttle everyone who is associated with the fucking disaster that is road cycling in L.A….”
I ride my bike to be healthy and happy. I do not ride so that I can become a valueless victim.
I am always grateful when I come home safely from each and every ride because I know (better than most) that it can be dangerous out there. But I also believe(d) that if some harm comes to me and someone else it as fault, that wrong can be righted in some manner. The system works. It’s slow and frustrating, but give it a chance, it works. It’s ok to ride your bike because in the end it all works out….
Fuck that shit.
Once upon a time I took an oath and pledged “to maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and judicial officers” and there have been so, so, so many times over the course of my legal career that I have counseled clients to just “trust the process.”
And now it was so clear. The “process” doesn’t work. The justice system is far from just. The scales of justice are stacked. And the weight goes toward protecting one’s own at the peril of the people. It’s a “just us” system. Cops and DA’s on one side, no one else on the other.
If you’re a cop and you kill a cyclist with your patrol car while speeding and distracted by your laptop, you get to use the “I didn’t see him” excuse to get away with manslaughter.
“I didn’t see him” is not an excuse. It’s an ADMISSION!
- It’s admission that you were not paying attention to the road.
- It’s an admission that you have engaged in distracted driving (funny that the person who was in the car BEHIND you, officer, managed to see Milt riding his bike just before you plowed into him in the bike lane, and not the other way away around as you intimated/lied in your on-site statement).
- It’s an admission that makes you guilty of violating CVC sections 22107, 21209 and 21658 (at least).
But don’t worry, “bro” the DA’s got your back.
Cops can kill cyclists for no good reason, no worries. Have a nice day, officer.
Deep Breath. Find the Positive.
You killed my friend. You killed a person who actually had power and clout within the legal system and even that wasn’t enough to cause the ADA to do her job.
“Not enough evidence” she says.
I’m pretty sure that any first year law student could take the facts from the ADA’s Charge Evaluation Worksheet and the officer’s subpoenaed cell phone records and churn out an equally, if not more, compelling narrative that reaches the exact opposite conclusion.
Usually when the media covers stories about cyclists getting hit by cars, a large proportion of the comments include statements like “It’s about time, I hate those fucking lycra wearing homos” or “Bicyclists are supposed to obey the same laws as vehicle drivers. They do not. I have seen everything that would get one killed. They dart in and out of everywhere. They get what they deserve.”
The one not-completely-terrible thing about this sad, fucked-up situation, however, is that 100% of the comments I’ve seen thus far about this (non)-case have been on Milt’s side.
Having the general public side with cyclists may signal a monumental shift in cyclist-driver relations. Or it may just signal a shared, sad resignation to the fact that police continue to have immunity when it comes to killing people. In any event, I no longer want to “throttle everyone who is associated with the fucking disaster that is road cycling in L.A.”
The lovely gentleman who brought the vomit-and-migraine-inducing article to my attention in the first place has now also organized a Vigil and Pursuit of Justice ride that will pay homage to Milt’s ghost bike (which I still haven’t summoned the courage to visit) and head over to the DA’s office to show her that people care about having the truth get told in a court of law and judged by a jury.
If you’re in the L.A. area, please consider joining us for next Wednesday’s ride. It may not restore your faith in humanity, but any time you get to ride bikes with a group of thoughtful, committed citizens, you will at least come away with a little bit more Zen.
I think. I hope. Let’s give it a try…