Scooter Wreck! Bloodshed! Carnage! Explosions! (Part I)
Well, ok, no, there were no explosions and very little carnage and minimal bloodshed. But yes, it finally happened: I got in a wreck on my scooter this morning. We don’t call it a deathcycle for nothing.
So here’s what happened. I needed some gas, and I knew there was a gas station a couple blocks down Cingnian from my place. I had to return some sheets that I bought over the weekend (I didn’t realize when I purchased them that they were inexplicably shiny – like sheets you’d see in a bad sci-fi movie set in the future, or in Liberace’s guest room), so I put them in between my feet on the scooter and started down the road.
Now, you should know that Cingnain is a pretty big road; and two blocks from my place, it intersects with another big street called Mincyuan. It was in this giant intersection where both my morning and myself were thrown a bit off-kilter. The light was green as I approached the intersection, and I entered it on the northeast side with a casual serenity. There’s something refreshing about driving a scooter in the morning.
The gas station was on the opposite corner from me, and, since the traffic was fairly light, I briefly entertained the notion of just cutting straight across diagonally and saving myself precious seconds. Traveling at maybe 35 km per hour, I veered ever-so-slightly to the left for just a split-second, then thought better of it and began to straighten out. But it was too late.
Unbeknownst to me, another scooter was racing up on my left, flying down the road like a bat out of hell in desperate need of a bathroom. [If you don’t drive one of these deathcycles regularly, there are two things you need to know before we proceed: 1) we do have right and left mirrors on our scooters, but it’s hard to get a decent rear view, given the fact that they’re not set very wide and our sleeves flapping in the wind tend to make up about half of what we see; 2) because of the noise of all the other scooters flying about on the road at various speeds, it’s not always so easy to tell when one is getting close to you.]
And it just so happened that the split-second I veered (nay, tilted maybe 8 degrees) to the left was indeed the same split-second that Madame Speedracer was trying to pass me on the left at a ridiculously close distance. Why she felt the need to pass me so close remains a mystery. As I said, there wasn’t much traffic, and there was plenty of room around me. But she wanted to live dangerously, it seems. Even if I hadn’t veered/tilted leftward, she would have been able to touch me on her way by. Maybe it was my new aftershave; perhaps those squat-thrusts are making a change for the better in my backside appearance; or maybe she didn’t like me from the get-go and intended to shove me down as she passed by, Mad Max style. Whatever her thoughts (or lack thereof), the situation did not end well. For either of us. (I should add that my momentary idiotic inkling to cut across diagonally played just as big a part in this calamity as her foolishness.)
I tilt left, she zooms up to my left flank, sees me tilting at the last possible second, quickly tries to veer left herself, and it looks for a second like we might avoid disaster… but then her back tire catches my front tire, we both skid and wobble for the slightest of milliseconds, then her scooter capsizes to the left, and she falls off her scooter entirely; my scooter, now completely out of control, hits her fallen bike, which sends me into the air and my scooter to the ground…
From then it was like a slow-motion blur – I don’t remember exactly what happened… I do remember my lower body slamming into her bike as I flew, and that it hardly stopped any of my forward momentum; and I remember the top of my head crashing onto the street, and the rest of my body subsequently flying up and over my head in what I imagine was an incredibly ungraceful somersault; and I remember thinking that none of it was hurting as much as I expected it to. Thank you, helmet.
And so there I was, at 10:30 in the morning, lying facedown in the street in the middle of a giant intersection in Taiwan. Behind me lie two fallen scooters, engines still futilely churning, like two wounded horses gasping for air on a battlefield. And next to me lie the woman who’d gone down with me. She was still facedown on the street, motionless, and whimpering in agony.