I took a short lunch break a few weeks back, sitting down on my couch and turning on the TV. I wanted to hear the weather forecast, which I never did.
Instead, I learned about a bicyclist who was killed in Torrance, and the killer simply drove away in his Toyota truck.
Shocking! How is it a person can run down someone on a bicycle, kill them, and then just drive off into the wild blue yonder? As someone who looks at the non-sustainability of the Los Angeles area “machine,” I know that more and more of us should take to our bicycles and become a part of the solution. As I sat shaking my head, I thought about my own lifetime of bicycling, and how I just started bicycling more, in part, inspired by a female friend who wrote about her bicycling to her job in Azusa from Highland Park. Wow! I used to have difficulty biking to my job in Pasadena from Highland Park, mainly because I’d show up dripping sweat and had no place to change or shower.
Drivers need to wake up and realize that the bicyclist is your friend, and a friend to the sprawling masses of Los Angeles County. Don’t treat them as an irritation, a fly to be swatted. And bicyclists — some anyway — also need to wake up to the fact that their 150 pounds of small mass is nothing compared to a 2,000-pound car. I have never figured out why some bicyclists taunt drivers, and bicycle far from the curb in a way that makes them a target in a confrontation they can’t win. As Rodney King once asked, “Can’t we all get along?”
Then, when I was about a third done with my soup, the news program began showing the wreckage of the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. It was clearly not good for my digestion to see whole neighborhoods underwater, houses turned into splinters, people crying for help, and families in need of food and fresh water.
Then I watched some of the remarkable rescuers who came out on boats and took people to dry land and brought supplies to those who needed them most. They were also showing a convenience store in some town that was being looted, and a few people were arrested.
As C.S. Lewis so insightfully pointed out in “The Screwtape Letters,” times of great stress and disaster bring out the worst in mankind, but somehow it also brings out the very best. Heroes are made and lives are changed. I watched these dramas being played out on my TV screen as I pushed my empty soup bowl to the side and started for my vegetarian half-sandwich from Subway.
Floods of the past flowed through my memory as I recalled two of the best bits of advice for anyone preparing for disasters (or old age, for that matter): One is develop useful skills, and the other is develop meaningful relationships with people. Not “gather lots of stuff,” and not “make sure you have the biggest knife.”
Yes, stuff is important, but just look at what Florence did to all that stuff. We can’t always predict the weather, but we should be able to rely upon our own hard-earned skills and our deep friendships.
I didn’t have much time to watch TV, and my sandwich was nearly done, so I flipped around to other stations and came up with a few ironclad rules of life, though of lesser importance than what I’ve already mentioned.
Number one, if you have a small claims court case to settle, and you’re guilty, never, ever under any circumstances have Judge Judy try your case. She will not only expose you but humiliate you as well. Try your luck with one of the local judges in a non-televised court proceeding.
Number two, if anyone from the Jerry Springer show ever calls you to come into the studio and meet some mystery person of your past don’t even think about calling them back. It will not turn out well for you.