my grandpa might have been right about motorcycles

so i was sitting on the back of my roommate’s motorcycle, on the second leg of my first ever motorcycle journey (back from our other roommate’s thesis reading) and we were going down the curvy street on petrero hill and i was thinking well, even though this would be more fun if i had my hands holding the waist of some strapping man with just a little bit of stubble and an appreciation for damien hirst instead of on the shoulders of my roommate, motorcycle riding is pretty f-ing great. we pulled on to our street and i said to my roommate, “maybe i’ll get a motorcycle.”

it wasn’t too cold and there were no clouds and i could see orion’s belt and then there was a crashing crunching sound. at first i thought it was coming from us and then i saw a different motorcycle coming towards us on the grill of some white-ish car. i moved my feet from the pegs but my roommate yelled at me not to move. the car paused and let the motorcycle fall to the pavement. then it took a right like it was in a movie and sped away. my roommate said something about the license plate but it was too dark to see anything. she stopped the motorcycle and i sat there for one second until she said “NOW you can get off!”

i ran over to the person on the ground who was lying there with one leg bent up, dazed. i hoped she (i wasn’t sure she was a she but it was a slender person so i guessed) wasn’t dying because i didn’t want to see a person dying. especially not a stranger. how do you act when a stranger dies? that’s what i was thinking. she looked up at me. i was the first person there. “are you okay?” i asked and then “do you want me to call 911?”

she kind of moaned and said “i guess” and then i realized that i needed to pull it together at least a little bit. this was responsibility. a woman just got hit by a car and she’s lying in the middle of the street. THIS is the time you call 911. not when your brother’s friend is drunkenly knocking on your back door at 5 am.

so i called and as i did a woman walked toward me. she was on her cell phone too. soon the whole intersection was full of people. 22nd and hampshire. “don’t move,” i told the lady on the ground after i decided definitively she was a lady; “hey ,” i said when she moved her hands up to her helmet, “don’t move your head and don’t take off your helmet.”

“good,” said the 911 lady on the other end of the phone line, “good job.”

when the operator asked me about the other vehicle i gave the phone to my roommate and started talking to the woman on the ground again. someone brought her a blanket. she wanted to take off her helmet. “i’m sure you’re fine,” i told her, “but i think you need to leave that on until the paramedics get here. they’ll be here any second.”

i asked if she wanted me to call anyone for her and found her phone and called her boyfriend. here the excitement peters out. the cops came along with a fire truck and an ambulance. the whole intersection was circled with people. everyone kept asking me if the woman was my friend and i kept saying i didn’t actually know her. i asked the police where they were taking her and i told her boyfriend. my roommate told them all of the details of the accident. one police officer asked for my id but was okay with the fact i didn’t have it.

for some reason, i think because they still thought i was the woman’s friend, nobody told me to get out of the way so i just stood there and watched while the paramedics took off the lady’s helmet and talked to her and checked her out. then someone asked me if i would go with her to the hospital. i asked what to do and they told me to get in the ambulance.

i just got in the front seat and sat there while my roommate reenacted the accident and the firetruck drove away and the whole circle of mission people stared at us. a guy with a stubbly beard opened my door and said “can i ask you a huge favor?”

“sure,” i said.

“can you buckle your seat belt?”

i laughed. i should have asked him if he liked damien hirst but i didn’t think about it. after a couple minutes, the ambulance pulled away.

what happened next is not scary:

i sat in the ambulance for the 3 minute drive to sf general. the emt said i was a good passenger because i had buckled my seat belt. i sat in the waiting room for awhile and the emt kept walking by and smiling at me. this made things seem okay. plus the woman was talking in the ambulance. i wasn’t too worried. then her boyfriend and my roommate showed up and we waited around a little more until i finally convinced the cop on duty to let me go see what was up.

and she was fine. she was walking around. she hugged us. we rescued her bike so it wouldn’t get impounded. on the way home my roommate asked me if i still wanted a motorcycle which i guess seems profound-er now then it was before but i don’t know. all i can think is what a strange thing to happen and i am really glad that stranger is not dead.