There’s this moment between when you see the car door start to open and when you actually finally make impact that you think, shit, what’s going to happen here?
Then there’s the sprawling, slow-motion fall onto the asphalt and the gasp of the surprised (usually) passenger who has opened his door into traffic at a very inopportune time, that time being exactly when you were pedaling along, on your way to meet some friends for lunch, wearing a tshirt and denim skirt, and now, a banged up knee, an irate conscience, a blue, and purple bruised arm, and worst of all, what appears to be a badly sprained big toe. There are scratches on your hands from landing, and a bit of dirt that didn’t come out of the knee abrasion in the café bathroom where you washed it in the sink before eating a really great sandwich, that even had pickles on it.
And now biking doesn’t seem like a great idea, and walking is worse, and you don’t even want to think about what color it’s all going to be tomorrow and you’re just really pissed at how the driver of the car was all, “nothing happened, you’re fine” which is the same thing they always say when there’s no exposed bone or spouting blood. But I know what it’s like to fall, and then get up again, and what it feels like the next day, and the day after, and the limping, and the favoring of the other leg and not being able to live your life as normal, because some schmuck didn’t put on his blinkers to announce that he was, oh, stopping in the middle of the street to let his passenger out.
After it happened, I called my friends to tell them I’d be late, while a group of three police officers stood around trying to decide whether or not to call an ambulance for me. Which maybe I should have let them, but I had things to do, and I wasn’t dying, and I don’t want to go to the doctor and have someone give me a giant boot to wear and charge the driver my medical bills. I just want people to drive carefully and treat each other with care. The best part was when I talked on the phone, the driver went into a flat panic about me speaking English (perhaps I was someone important?) But I bet that panic was nothing in comparison to what I felt in that moment, that split second between when I saw the car door open and when I finally made impact and I flew through the air in slow motion thinking, “shit, what’s going to happen here?”