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THE PAPER ROUTE BIKE CRASH









The day of the paper route bike crash was the day I learned that I wasn't the center of attention. I asked myself, "what in the world am I doing at 6:30 in the morning riding my bike in this snowstorm"? Actually, I had a very good reason. I needed to deliver my morning paper route before heading to school. It was one of those late February snowstorms in southern Michigan. Just warm enough to melt, but also just cold enough to accumulate. The snow was wet and clung to my coat and stuck to the spokes of my bike. About four inches of gradually melting snow had fallen already, and a thirty mile--an-hour North wind was turning the streets into an icy glaze.

The intersection of North Union and Brown Street was like an "x" shape rather than a "+" shape; and it's geography was like a shallow bowl which collected the run-off water from a quarter mile north and a quarter mile west. Both streets sloped downward into this icy slush bowl. I had just finished delivering my last papers and I intended to coast down Brown Street, the best I could in these conditions, into the intersection of Brown and North Union Street. I lived about 300 yards up North Union, and I planned to fight my way home against the north wind and the upward slope. I already knew the slippery condition of the intersection because I had just pedaled up from there. I knew that I would be gaining speed as I descended, but hopefully I could manage a left turn at the bottom of the hill, and then head home up North Union, against the wind. Once there, I could get ready and head for school.


About 300 yards away, at the bottom of the hill, I could see a man shoveling his sidewalk. Away I went, downhill and gaining speed, but on the ice, my braking was having little effect.


Wham! Scree! The bike and I went down on our left side, with my left hip grinding against the icy pavement. I came to rest against the curb with a jolt, knowing I had misjudged the whole maneuver.


The shoveling man glanced over at me laying there, and he cocked his head like a puzzled puppy, and turned back to resume his chore. That was the day that I learned that in spite of my calamities and pain and suffering, the world didn't revolve around me.


9-30-19


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CHAEL DEAN COOK 

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