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9.27.2007

Great Escape

This week's UPI column, a couple of days late


So There I was...

Looking for a way through.

I was motorcycling down a major arterial in my neighborhood. It was a sunny, dry, morning and traffic was light. Stopped at the next side street on my right was our local letter carrier. His name is Gerry. He is a friend of mine. I always smile when I see him in his postal truck. He is a good man and a good presence in our neighborhood. He knows me, and my bikes. As I came up on him I smiled – I had my visor up. He was looking right at me. I thought we made eye contact. I nodded my head (can’t always wave on a bike). Then, just as I approached the street, he pulled out – right in front of me – making a left turn onto the big street. I had one nanosecond to decide what to do before I hit the side of his truck.

When you are in motorcycle safety school (and no one should ride without this experience) they drum into you head that you must always be scanning the road ahead for potential dangers and potential solutions to those dangers.

The advantages of the bike over the cage (your car) are maneuverability and quicker acceleration/deceleration. We can go, stop and turn faster than you can. This is a simple fact of physics; much less mass, nearly equal power. This saves our live – a lot.

One of our major disadvantages is visibility. We are smaller and your brain is accustomed to notice cars and trucks, and often you just don’t see us, even when you see us. This endangers our lives – a lot.

After alcohol and excess speed – both completely avoidable – the number one cause of motorcycle deaths is a car making a turn into your immediate path. This is unavoidable. But it is manageable. You make a mental discipline of presuming that you are either invisible, or that if visible, that the vehicle ahead will attempt to intentionally kill you. Making this presumption, you plan you way of escape. There is always a way of escape, usually more than one. You ride your bike in a manner that makes escape possible at any time. Then you get to live.

On the day of my near postal collision, I had four choices; none of them really good.
1-Swerve left – in front of his path. He might stop at the last second and I could scoot in front of him. I rejected this, as it is folly to bank on his seeing me, when he clearly had not seen me to this point.

2- Swerve right – and try and go behind him as he continued his left turn. This might work if he moved quickly enough, but it presumed that he would not see me at the last second and hit his brakes. In my experience they almost always see you at some point and slamming on the brakes is always the natural response. I rejected this because it bet my safety on his response. I like to keep my safety in my own hands when ever possible.

3- Try and make the right hand turn. Move onto the street that he was leaving. This could work if I did not have too much speed going into the turn. It would require lots of lean for my cruiser-style bike. If you fail, you go down into a slide, but that is preferable to hitting a large object directly. People survive slides. I was wearing good leathers.

4- Attempt the very fast emergency stop. If you are not going too fast this often works. But if you lock up your brakes you slide, often into the object you are trying to avoid. Going under a truck is not recommended.

There was not actually time to think through these options. These options had to be wired into my sinews and nerve endings.

I attempted a combo of three and four. He did see me at the last moment and he did slam on his brakes, coming to a stop completely blocking the road in front of me. I turned to the right, leaned, and put the bike into a controlled sideways slide. I stood up, foot on my back brake and hand on the front brake. I was prepared to attempt to leave the bike if she went under the truck. I sacrificed a lot of good tire tread. And I stopped, facing to the right, parallel to the truck, right at Gerry’s driver side window. I stood the bike upright. I had managed not to soil myself.

Gerry looked down at me and said “Expletive, Peg, expletive I ‘m sorry. I did not expletive see you! Expletive!”

I looked up and said. “Expletive Gerry! Good thing I saw you! You almost expletive killed me! That would have sucked!”

Gerry: “No Expletive!”

We were blocking traffic in two directions. He moved his truck across the street. I moved the bike to the side street. We both stayed put until we recovered. We did both recover.

This is yet another set of motorcycle truths that easily move into the spiritual realm. Don’t travel so fast that you don’t have time to deal with emergencies. Scan your horizon for trouble, but do it with a calm, relaxed, open attitude – fear and panic are not your friends. Always look for the way of escape – it is always there.

The Apostle Paul talks to the folks in Corinth about this. He says:
{italic}“There is not a situation that will test you that is not natural and common. God is faithful and fair. You will not be tested you above your skill level. With the test there always comes a way of escape.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (paraphrase mine) {/itaic}

The word I have translated as test is often translated temptation, but test or trial is also a fair use of the Greek. So is assay, like checking the level of a precious metal. This passage is often preached narrowly as being about temptation to sin. And the ‘take away’ is – You have no excuse for sin, there is always a way out. This is fair, but limited exegesis.

We do not learn without opportunities to test and use our skills. But we do not need to fear God as an assayer. God is not trying to catch us being bad; God is a fair educator who is on our side. Giving us skills, the opportunities to use them, and a way to survive and thrive during the learning process. God made us, and knows that we have ‘the right stuff.’ God wants to use that stuff to whatever level we will take it.

With God there is always a chance to retake the test.

With motorcycles, inattention can take away the re-test.

So ride safe! Shiny side up, rubber side down!
Keep your eyes open and mind your escape route.

Comments:
Hi Peggy,
Kathy Hyzy forwarded you blog to me after sharing the insight about testing rather than temptation. Sure fits my concept of God and life better! Great to see you last weekend, Blessings in your life and work,and thanks for your encouragement to try to live out and through this Silly Poor Gospel!
Betsey
 
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