Did I Jinx That Guy?

Traffic cones set up to direct traffic around a police car.

Have you ever jinxed someone, but didn’t know it?

A few weeks ago I was at a red light right after leaving the police department parking lot. While I was stopped, a guy rode by me on a bicycle who was pulling a shopping cart. That was something I hadn’t seen before. Lately, I’ve been seeing bicyclist pulling suitcases, but not shopping carts.

I thought to myself how I’ve never taken a crash with a guy on a bike who was pulling a shopping cart before. It was a quick thought that I forgot as soon as I said it.

About 7 hours later I was sent to an injury collision involving a bicycle and a vehicle on the west side of the city. When I got there, the officers told me the fire department had already come and gone after the injured rider refused aid. There was a witness standing by, so I spoke to her first.

The witness told me where she was standing when she saw the crash. She described how he was riding the wrong way on the street and how he crossed directly in front of the vehicle when the collision occurred.

She said, “He was pulling a shopping cart.”

Of course, that made the call more interesting now. “He was? Where’s the cart?”

“Yeah, it’s still in the street,” she said as she pointed.

I looked and sure enough, there was a shopping cart that was knocked over in the street. The bicycle was damaged beyond repair and was lying next to the cart.

I had jinxed the guy for sure.

I then spoke to the bicyclist and asked him what happened. He gave me a slightly different version of how the collision occurred, but it was close enough. I looked at the rear wheel of the bicycle and saw that it was bent and twisted from the collision. It was more a paper weight than a bicycle now.

After I was done with the investigation, the rider asked, “What do I do with my bike?”

“Do you want to put it in the shopping cart?” I asked.

By the look on his face, it wasn’t the answer he was looking for. With a bit of a pout he walked over to the cart and picked it up. He then lifted the bicycle into the air and half threw it into the shopping cart with a frustrated look on his face. The bike landed hard in the cart and caused it to tip over with a loud crash that echoed in the night.

It was actually pretty funny to watch.

The rider stood there in the street with a defeated look on his face as his shoulders sagged. He then pulled the bicycle out and got the shopping cart back up on its wheels again.

Now it was time to watch operation bicycle in a shopping cart 2.0.

He lifted the bicycle up in the air and put it in the cart with more care this time. He picked up the rest of his belongings and was able to push the cart out of the street. The cart looked funny with half of the bike sticking up in the air like it was doing a wheelie.

It just proves that you can’t make this stuff up.

Last month was out of control

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“Does every city have the same problems with crashes that we do or is it just us?”

That was the question I asked one of my traffic partners on Sunday morning after handling six traffic collisions that night, which included two DUI crashes.

“I think it’s just us,” was his reply.

I have kept track of the number of collisions I’ve handled since I started working in the traffic detail in January of 1999. It turned out May of 2015 was a little out of control in the city where I work. That’s why I was glad to see June 1st on the calendar.

It was actually the second highest total in my career for the number of traffic collision reports I took in one month. The grand total for May was 54 crashes. After last month I can’t imagine what the summer months are going to be like.

The national statistics related to traffic collision deaths in the United States has gone down over the last decade, but it seems like the number of collisions we handle has gone up.

Right before the recession started, traffic collisions were out of control every single night. I called it the Wild West because it seemed like every pole in the city was being crashed into nightly. It also seemed like every drunk driver took a detour through the city.

Then the recession hit and things really calmed down around 2009 and 2010. It was a like a ghost town some nights with no one crashing, which was good. It was nothing like the rest of the 2000s.

Since then I’ve seen a gradual increase in accidents and the volume of work that we do. It’s like the Wild West again and business is booming, which is not good for the average driver in my city.

I guess this means the recession is truly over because there are tons of people out there crashing like never before. It also means I might break my record if things continue the way they are.

One thing is for sure, I won’t break my record in June. It’s not because everyone is going to be careful. It’s because I’ll be on a cruise ship for a week and I’ll have a margarita in my hand instead of a flashlight and a clipboard.

Remember to keep your eyes open out there because we don’t want to meet by accident.

The Mormon Missionary

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The funny thing about work is you never know what you’re going to hear next. Every time I think I’ve heard it all, something else comes up.

Yesterday two Mormon missionaries were riding their bicycles as they approached a red light at an intersection. Two witnesses saw them ride through the red light and one of them was hit by a mini-van.

The injured rider had a helmet, but his head injury didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t understand how the back of his head got so bloody with the helmet on. I then found out he had the helmet, but he wasn’t wearing it. It was hanging from his handlebar at the time of the crash.

While the guy was in the ambulance I spoke with his bicycle riding partner. I gave him the report number and asked him if he had any questions.

That’s when he asked a question I have never been asked before while working.

“Have you ever thought about being  Mormon?”
“No.” I answered with a smile.
“Ok.”
“I once had a Book of Mormon though.”
“You did?” He asked with a surprised look.
“I was at a hotel in Provo (Utah) when someone gave it to me. I was thirteen at the time.”
“That wasn’t that long ago,” he said with a sly look.

Since I’m forty-four, the look on his face showed he was stretching the truth a bit. It still made me laugh though. What a salesmen!

Up until yesterday, I have never taken a collision report involving a Mormon missionary on a bicycle. I’ve also never taken a crash where the helmet was on the handlebars instead of on the rider’s head. Usually the rider isn’t wearing one at all.

And finally, I have never been asked if I thought about changing religions.

Even after taking 5,700 crashes, work still throws me a curve ball once in a while instead of the usual fastball down the middle.

That’s why I keep coming back. I want to see what’s going to happen next.