Sunday, September 6, 2009

With Friends Like These....

We saw The Fast and the Furious, crotch-rocket-style, on the streets of Baltimore tonight...and it did not have a feel-good-movie-of-the-year ending. I always listen to a little music while I blog and to give you a hint of where this is heading, I dug out Kenny G's Dying Young Theme. I will not be offended if you stop reading here and go do something fun on the Sunday evening of a holiday weekend - like make chocolate chip cookies or watch Golden Girls re-runs. But here's how it all went down:
Setting: Fleet Street after sundown. We had just finished a lovely Irish pub meal at a place called James Joyce Pub and we were walking down by the Inner Harbor - attempting to burn off some of that apple crostata (but a vain attempt). A parade of about 20 guys, all on crotch-rockets, all doing at least 30 mph, and all helmet-less came racing down Fleet Street, some on 2 wheels, some on 1.

Neal suddenly exclaims, "Oh my gosh! That guy just wiped out."
"What? Where??"
"Right there. He popped a wheelie and fell off the back" And sure enough, there he lay on the pavement, totally not moving. The police officer that was in hot pursuit of the gang, sirens blaring and tires squealing, didn't even look back. But several of the other bikers, stopped, looked at him and then made circling motions in the air to the others. I have no idea what that meant, but then they all took off on the 1-way street and the ones that didn't, loaded (or rather tossed with great expediency) their bikes into the back of full-size pick up trucks. And still the boy with the jeans and the white shirt lay in the middle of the street, not moving. My heart skipped a beat, and then it skipped several. I could NEVER be a paramedic. A lady jumped out of her car and rushed over, several on-lookers gathered around and someone began taking pictures with a very nice camera. That caused commotion as the woman chased the guy off, but not before he got shots...meaning some newspaper will be giving him a nice wad of money for what's on that Canon. And then a security guard showed up, more people stopped to look (yes, I'm sorry, I became one of them...I hate it when people do it - I think they look like lemmings...but there I was in all of my gawking). Someone in the crowd was a doctor..they moved him out of the street..more people stopped. Then the police showed up. He started to move and satisfied that I had not just watched a chalk outline in the making, we ventured on. But coming to the end of the pier, we had to turn back and walk past it all again. By that point, the ambulance had arrived and had loaded him, although the crowd had all but dispatched and many passersby simply wondered aloud with weak interest what had happened. The police guarded the accident scene.

Immediately after the accident, a middle-aged couple ran over to the guy (and really I mean older early 20's) in an effort to help. But one look and the husband shoved the wife away from the scene and they took off in a jog. When we walked back by, I understood why: they thought they had just witnessed a fatality and there was nothing they could do for him now. In the street was a pool of blood - from his head. They didn't see him move an arm or roll over to his side...but that was all probably going to be moot. He went off the back of that bike on his the daughter of a psychologist who specializes in traumatic brain injury, I can tell you that the chances of the ambulance leaving the scene with sirens on are slim. And you have to guard the scene of a fatality - because investigations must be done.

Tomorrow, someone living in Baltimore...maybe the Mount Vernon area...will read about the accident in the paper as they have a cup of coffee and sit in the park and mutter aloud "well that's a shame but he was being stupid in the first place without a helmet. Oh well..." Somewhere else, a mother will cry because he was all she had left. And his bad-boy buddies will meet at a bar and pour out a beer in his honor, saying how that was really too bad - but really making no direct correlation to their own behavior and mortality. I'm not saying that's definitely the case, I'm saying it's the most likely outcome...and if it doesn't play out that way, then he had better hit his knees, sell his bike and find his purpose in this world.

I obviously have a hard time coping with such outcomes, no matter how predictable. Some would say "one less idiot in the world"...I don't. I know that just because he's nobody to me, he's everything to somebody and what would I do if I lost my everything?

So, boys and girls: wear your helmet, keep both wheels on the ground, and find friends who will wait with you until the ambulance arrives.

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