Alternate Timeline Paul’s Amazing Day (or, “I was half right worrying about getting hit by a car)

15 May


Literally a minute after I leave the restaurant where I wrote the last entry, I’m pedalling out of Waldport, clicking my odometer through it’s 7 or so functions back to being an odometer and I see the bright flash of light as I take the impact of the rear of the parked truck in my chest. I’m on the ground and back up to check the damage to my computer, my camera, my phone and then myself. The truck’s owner leaves the restaurant, telling his wife he knew he shouldn’t have parked on this street. We both look at the damage, a bent driver’s side fender, a small dent in the tailgate. I look at my bike. The front wheel needs a protracter to measure the angle and the fork is bent. The day’s ride is over. We’re both pissed, me more than him since I’m responsible for paying for both and I’m seeing my account balance plummet. Goodbye future plans.

After we exchange the relevant identification information they go back inside the restaurant to finish their lunch as I sit outside. An ambulance arrives, saying they’d been told a bicyclist was laying on the ground, mumbling incoherently and complaining of chest pains. I tell them I was rubbing my chest and swearing a lot, and coherent enough to enunciate and accent every one. They depart with their siren blaring, leaving one of their yellow EMT suitcases by the road. I sit by the road, the only thing hurting beside my pride is my hand from punching a yield sign in frustration. I’m figuring out my options. The Truck owners and another couple have offered to drive me back to Newport to a bike shop there, another couple has offered to drive me 40 miles ahead to Florence, to another bike shop. I hate backtracking and weigh my options, as I’m doing so the EMT sheepishly returns for his briefcase.

I decide to go forward and head inside the mexican restaurant. The Pastor and his wife have finished their meal. I apologize to the Truck owner and his wife, who have calmed down enough to ask whether I’m OK and leave. As we drive the 40 miles to Florence I’m blown away by the scenery. The ocean hits granite beds, shooting spray 30 feet into the air. The cliffs are full of bright flowers and the views are breathtaking. I sit in the car stewing inbetween weak attempts at conversation with the Pastor, who moved to Florence after years in LA. I can’t let go of the jealously I feel for Alternate Timeline Paul, who at that moment was bicycling slowly past those views, pausing for photos and feeling lucky to be alive and to have money in his bank account. It doesn’t help that the Pastor mentions these are the best views I’ll see along the coast.

He drops me off at the bike shop in Florence. The owner, who’s an expert in reparing forks, takes forever to show up because he’s out dirt bike riding in the sands and not answering his phone. The other repairman does his best, but in the end the only luck I have is that the wheel isn’t damaged, just the axle and skewer, both of which are cheap and replaceable. The owner finally shows up, a fat hippie with long grey hair in a tie dyed shirt. He takes one look and tells me what I don’t want to hear: The fork is gone. The other repairman, Sean, is willing to trade out the fork of his bike, the only one that will fit the wide stem of my Novarra, and 200 dollars later the repair is done. It would have been cheaper, but the hippie tells me to my face the price is too cheap and is adding on 15 dollars because they had to “Readjust my brakes.”

As this is all going on, I’m feeling tired, irritable, my neck hurts and I feel slightly floaty. Like a good hypochondriac I check Web MD for signs of a concussion. As I read through the symptoms, the irregular sleep, the irritability, emotional volatility, the memory problems and anxiousness I don’t think “Well, this could apply to anything” I think “Oh my god, I’ve had a concussion since I was 13! This explains everything!”

When I get the final bill, I’m past caring. I sign off on the bill, head to a nearby hotel, and sit inside the room stewing, curtains drawn to block out the bright, sunshiny day Alternate Timeline Paul is riding in. As I flip through the channels, reminding myself why I don’t own a TV (Why have none of the Mothers on Toddlers and Tiaras been arrested for Child Abuse? Every episode is an hours worth of evidence), I remind myself that today I’ve lost, which is shitty but not the end of the world. I’ve lost money, I’ve lost time, and I’ve lost good experiences, but that’s a reality. I’ve lost many times before. I’ve lost Karate tournaments, I’ve had bad Stand Up sets when I wanted great ones, I’ve made life decisions that cost me friends, respect, money, entry to Canada. But I haven’t lost tomorrow. This morning I climbed back on the bike and 20 miles later, past scenery way less amazing than Alternate Timeline Paul saw yesterday, I’m having lunch and ready to move on. This is the experience I get to have, and today may be a great one as long as I can look around me, rather than looking back.

And I’ll probably have a good 3 minute bit on this by the time I get back. Thanks Comedy, you give value to shitty experiences.


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