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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Getting Hit by a Car is Super Awkward.

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Tue, Nov 11, 2008 at 3:45 PM

So I was riding in the bike lane down Glisan, thinking mostly about lunch when all of a sudden I'm on the pavement, surrounded by Newman's Own Organic Cinnamon Alphabet cookies. My glasses are on the ground, too - broken - and there's people running frantically around me. My hands hurt and my legs hurt and apparently I'm crying profusely and it takes me a few long seconds to realize that I have been hit by a car. Well, hit by a car door, which I figure out a few whoozy moments later when the tense middle-aged man who opened the door has to explain to his frightened son what happened.

I always figured that if I got hit by a car I would be the super tough biker who lectures the boneheaded driver about sharing the road, bends her derailer back into shape with her bare hands and then rides off to catch a Sprockette's show but instead, of course, my body fell to pieces and my brain couldn't manage much besides producing more and more tears and mumbling "thank you" to the gathering crowd. It turns out that if you're not knocked unconscious and you're not super tough, getting hit by a car is mostly just awkward.

Four of us crowded around my bike and tried to figure out why the tire didn't move. Our hands got covered in bike grease and we all poked things in different directions. My hands kept shaking and everyone looked at me like something was seriously wrong. We all praised helmets. A guy gave me his name and number "in case I needed a witness" and I felt bad gathering evidence against the obviously sheepish middle aged driver. Ever tried making small talk with someone who you might soon be suing? It's no good.

"Are... you... going to ... eat at Pambiche?" I choked out, since we were standing next to the colorful restaurant.
"Yeah," replied the driver.
"They... have... really great... beans there," I sniffled. That's all there was to say.

I could have stayed and sat at their table and drunk some water and maybe they'd buy me a postre, but I was so embarrassed that I just wanted to get away. I rode to CityBikes where a cute mechanic named Jeremy kindly fixed my wheel for $5 while I superglued my glasses back together. My leg started turning to a light purple bruise but mostly I felt bad for for ruining someone's lunch. I imagined the driver and son sitting in the thick resentful silence of the other diners, who might catch the man's eye just to shake their heads and mutter, "grumblegrumblecarfreeportlandgrumble."

UPDATE: Despite all your supportive suggestions to sue the guy and call the cops (and despite a door-shaped bruise on my leg) I'm doing okay and decided to just call the driver up and ask him to replace my glasses. I think that's the way humans who aren't assholes should resolve their small problems - talking it out together rather than getting the police or insurance companies to negotiate. Anyway, I called him and he was very apologetic and offered to send me a check. Perfect!

Also, looking back on it, you're all right - I was definitely in shock. For whatever brain-addled reason, my first goal after getting off the ground was, "I must get to CityBikes! They must fix my bike!" rather than, you know, maybe sitting down? Or drinking some tea? A few hours later I finally got over to Black Sheep Bakery and the kind barista served me a free hot chocolate, asking, "Was this your first time?"

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