Thursday, October 8, 2015

Three foot buffer zone

I am in the Volkswagen. This is not unusual. I am always in the Volkswagen. Taking side streets and thinking about the chores. Trader Joes. Vacuuming. Did I pick up the dry cleaning? Email.
The usual background buzz in my head.

Then I look up and see him on his bike. Just some guy. Some guy with long hair and wrinkled clothes on a bike riding in the road ahead of me. So I pull my foot off the accelerator, slow the car and watch him. At first, I am paying attention to his direction and his wobble to be sure I don't get too close. LA has that 3-foot cyclist space rule and anyway, I am a big fan of personal space. But now I am enjoying the three feet of perspective and the view of his too-long hair as it catches the wind and takes to the air behind him.

Steven Speilberg had the milk crate
bike basket idea years ago. 
Because of all this looking, I notice he has a milk crate on the back of his bike, strapped onto the rear fender like a basket. Resourceful, I think.

And then I see that the milk crate has a big black leather bag in it. Maybe he is the kind of guy who carries a purse. As I am watching from my respectful 3-foot distance, I see him reach behind him without turning his head. He feels around for the flap to open his purse (now I am wondering if he calls it a murse or thinks of it as a satchel) and he puts his hand in, reaching for something that he needs right then and there.

And all at once, I feel poised on a precipice. In the next instant his fingers will close around an apple. Or a cell phone. Or his bike lock. A pipe bomb. Maybe he will check to see if he brought his wallet. Or maybe he needs to reassure himself that his sole remaining worldly possessions are still in that bag. Or his screenplay. For a second. Less. A fraction of a second, time is suspended and I can feel the day open up before me like the whole world is holding its breath. It could be anything. Nothing. It doesn't matter. It is a perfect weightless moment and I know the raw random power of my life.

I close my eyes for as long as I dare and accelerate quickly by him, careful not to see what he has in his hand.