Getting your life saved

Sometimes somebody saves your life and you don’t even know it until you think about it later.  Very often the one who saves your life doesn’t know it–never knows it.  He just keeps running around doing what he does totally unaware that his position in Heaven or his estimable rebirth is secured.  See, I now know that a teenage kid, a guy about 17 or so, tall, skinny, with a good sized dog on a leash about 6 feet long, thinking he had done something stupid or, as he put it, “My bad,” actually kept me from validating my mortality on my way to work just about a week ago.  Let me explain.

It was a beautiful Monday around noon in brilliant sunlight.  I was pedaling my baby blue 25 year old Ross up Adam Clayton Powell Junior Boulevard–the one residents call 7th Avenue–to work in The Bronx.  As I crossed 141st Street I spotted the young man in question.  He stood in the road about 10 feet from the curb and right in my path.  In front of him, extending another 6 feet into the road and on the aforementioned leash was his good sized dog.  Now I ride slowly, so there was plenty of time to choose the safe route between him and the curb.  No need to yell or ring the bell or even be beset by my usual string of invectives directed toward those whose behavior indicates that they’ve invaded my world.

So fine, I start around him.  And what does he do?  With all the reflexes and awareness of someone who will never play a professional sport, he bends down and pulls the dog back toward him while simultaneously backing directly into my heretofore well chosen and perfectly safe path.  I squeeze the brakes and, perhaps more slowly than desired, bring the bike to a safe, non-collisionary stop just 3 inches from his squatting, back-waddling body.  At this point he looks up at me and utters the “my bad” apology.  I hear it but am distracted and silent.

I could not have been travelling at more than 5 miles per hour.  Why, my inquiring mind wondered, did it take so much effort to stop?  As I start up again, I notice the front brake handle is acting as if it were attached to nothing.  Nothing!  I decide to stop to investigate, not as it turns out an easy task.  The front brake is truly inoperative.  I can see even while moving that the brake cable has snapped in two,  and the back brake is little more than a joke.   O my!  I drag my foot and the bike, barely moving, stops.

Had this kid not brought me to a stop I would have continued into the hills of The Bronx on a bike about to  be without working brakes.  All would have been  fine and  flat and uphill and fine until I came to the drop that connects the Macombs Dam Bridge (the one near Yankee Stadium) to the Major Deegan (he was an engineer in some war) Highway, a downhill with a serious curve usually covered with litter, a hill that requires serious brakage.  Should I have somehow made it past this point–not that I would have–I would get to climb a long hill to 165th Street and then plunge down past the Highbridge Gardens (no gardens to be seen) projects to certain death at 167th (in sight of Steroids Pizza, home of the gargantuan slice.

The bottom line: He backed up so I didn’t die .

Anybody saved your life lately?

Published in: on July 4, 2010 at 5:06 pm  Comments (9)