Friday, August 21, 2009

The Kids are ... Alright??

I took the day off today to get some chores done around the house. But first I hopped onto the recumbent this morning to do a casual, Tour de Starbucks run.

At 7:15 AM there is much more traffic than at the time of my usual, hard pedaling morning exercise run at around 5:00 AM. This includes pedestrian traffic as well as motorists and fellow bicyclists. I will usually ride on the sidewalks on busy thoroughfares for this reason. (Riding on the sidewalk is not illegal in Arizona.)

I had gotten my drink, stowed it in the insulated bottle cage mounted on the back, left seat strut, sat down in the 'bent and worked my way out of the busy parking lot. Immediately I came up behind a college-age gal in jogging shorts and top, walking and fiddling with something in her right hand.

My usual procedure has always been to first call out "On your left" in an elevated, but friendly voice. If I get no response, I say it again in a louder, more forceful manner: "On your LEFT!" This has almost always worked in the past, but if it doesn't ... I have "Plan B."

I called out "On your left" and then noticed she had the earbuds of either an iPod or an MP3 player crammed into her ears and probably didn't hear me so I shouted "On your LEFT!" with even more vigor than I usually do. She still showed no sign of being aware of my presence, so I initiated "Plan B."

"Plan B" always happens when I am right up behind an obvious individual blocking the path. I simply let out a primal "AHHHHHH!" at the most blood curdling volume I can muster. I was particularly satisfied with this "Plan B" because I saw some brake lights of passing cars go on in response to it.

But she didn't ... even ... hear ... THAT!

It wasn't until we got to a driveway a few yards further on, which had a wheelchair ramp for the sidewalk wide enough for me to safely pass her, that she became aware of me and started as I scooted by.

Now, I am 59 years old, and I have listened to loud music all of my life (I even played bass in a rock band in my late teens and twenties), and I still put on the Boneyard on my Sirius satellite radio to listen to hard rock, but it astounds me that some young people seem to get so into whatever little electronic gadget they have that they can become totally unaware of what is going on around them.

For the rest of the morning ride, I studied the pedestrians, motorists and other bicyclists I came across. It seemed like everyone in the age range of 40 and above were busy with the task at hand: driving, riding or looking both ways before crossing the street. Everyone under the age of 40 seemed to have a cell phone or some music player stuck to the side of their head, which meant they could be a danger to themselves and other people on the roads.

I worry that the kids truly are NOT alright!

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