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)  

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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. unfolded aorta
    hose without bend
    sober Summer


  2. Richard,

    Is there any chance you might have saved this teenager’s life too? How do you know?

    Happy Independence Day!



    • C’mon Bruce! We both know the answers to both your questions:
      1. Yes, there is a chance, although I have no idea how or when I might have done that.
      2. I don’t know.


  3. God usually works through the material world. Miracles typically involve ordinary events designed to occur at highly improbably times (I believe St. Thomas Aquinas discusses this at length somewhere). Also, do you think it significant that the only detail of the story you repeated was the sincere and unhesitating apology of the 17-year-old antagonist? Were you perhaps impressed by the humility and courage of a teenager in New York accepting responsibility for his error, perhaps as much as you were impressed by the presence of the divine in your discovery of the broken brakes? Does the boy’s simple apology also not have something to say about the divine? One final question: is there really a pizza joint called “Steroids Pizza”?


    • First the easy question: no there is not a pizza joint called “Steroids Pizza,” at least not by it’s owners an employees. I started calling it that based on the enormous size of the slices and subsequently heard another customer refer to it similarly.

      Regarding the kid with the dog, there is no doubt in my mind that he–like all else (even you)–found his way into my life by virtue of a countless number of interactive factors. His humility might suggest divine intervention to those already so disposed and conceiving of God as depicted in the
      Abrahamic beliefs. I was not at all impressed at the moment by anything other than our failure to collide. When I discovered the brake problem and it’s possible consequences, all that mattered was that I did not suffer a serious crash further on up the road. The kid could just as well have said, “Stupid fuck! Watch the fuck where the fuck your dumb ass is going” and I would have been equally grateful.


  4. Dog folks rock! Glad to have you around for a few more! Whew!


  5. Dumb! The odds are that you wouldn’t have died and look at the greater tales a good accident would give rise to. Maybe next time. (that’s too cold–should I erase it or let it stand?) Well we still have you blogging and that’s a good thing.


    • Get on your bike. Negotiate the two Bronx hills I described. Should you survive, then we can talk more about “dumb.”


  6. This was my first reaction: Don had a similar experience with one of his old cars and brakes. Not to diminish your life saving experience. What’s important is your recognition that we are all connected somehow.


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