Friday, 9 January 2009

Auckland Drivers = Fail. Or, Spare Socks, Your Time Has Come!

I arrived in Auckland at midnight on Friday December 12 last year. By Sunday evening the universe had conspired to put me in hospital with a broken ankle. I was destined to wear left shoes for the next six weeks.

I had been navigating a roundabout on my conspicuous red motorbike when a car pulled out in front, promptly forwarding me to the tarmac. The bike landed on me, all 151 kilograms crushing down on my right ankle.

It hurt. A lot. It was the most agonising thing I had ever experienced, short of watching Ms Teen South Carolina attempt to string a sentence together.

It happened like this:

I didn't want to imagine what state my ankle would be in. It felt like it was detached, or dangling by a few threads. I was rather glad to find later the situation wasn't nearly as macabre.

The offender was a 17-year old girl, whose honours included 'Prohibited from Driving' (now twice) and 'Idiot'. She proceeded to drive off after her unwelcome greeting; presumably the thought of extra traffic fines was too much to bear.

Anyway, I got lucky. The driver behind me saw it all and slowed down before running over me, while memorising the offender's license plate. I'm extremely greatful for this turn of events - I didn't get run over, and There. Will. Be. Justice. Hurrah!

Some things I've learned from the ordeal:

  • Drivers are not to be trusted. Everyone (and everything) on the road is trying to kill you. This applies generally, but motorcyclists should take particular care. I knew this before the accident, but only in theory. 'Real world learning' elucidates theory like nothing else can.
  • Crutches generate more suffering than the injury proper. Palms are bruised purple, shoulders pop and grind, and the remaining foot withers under twice it's rated load.
  • Despite bruised palms, the urge to hop must be resisted. The hopped-on foot won't last the first day of hopping.
  • Moping at home on Friday night isn't fun.
  • Shoe pairs become assymetrically worn, as one sits unused.
  • Spare socks can finally enjoy a purpose in life.
  • Indeed, pairs of socks go twice as far. This is the sole advantage of having one foot out of service.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing I've learnt is that some people actually want motorcyclists to get hurt. Popular sentiment would suggest that if you're on a motorbike you somehow want or deserve to be hurt, that you're literally asking for it by riding a motorbike. That you need to be taught a lesson, etc. It's rather unsettling, and somewhat perverse. In other countries I've visited, ones westerners consider to be comparatively less civilised, larger vehicles give way to and look out for smaller vehicles. No sane person would disagree with this line of reasoning.

I encountered this attitude in a lot of people, from close family to strangers. Conversations usually began with them asking in a concerned, friendly voice what happened. We'd then progress to how it happened, at which point the tone would abruptly flip to one devoid of sympathy. Ouch! I think I'll just start taking the bus.

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