Friday, July 22, 2011

Don't just mind your own business

I made a coworker mad yesterday as he was telling a story about how his wife got hurt while riding on a bike path. "She was just riding along, minding her own business, when some Lance Armstrong type going way too fast tried to pass her..." I couldn't help but laugh. I don't think the accident was her fault, and I sure don't think bicycle accidents are funny. But all of these stories begin that way: "I was just riding along, minding my own business, when suddenly I noticed there was a puppy caught in my sprocket."

Upon further reflection, it occurs to me that "minding my own business" is double-speak for "had my head up my ass." Trust me. I have a vacation home in Rectal Vistas, CO, so it's not like I'm just passing judgement on everybody else, here. I have been guilty of not paying enough attention. And I'm fairly sympathetic to both parties in the accident related by my coworker.

You see, I'm pretty sure the guy that hit her was also just minding his own business. Two people in motion, each of them insufficiently aware of the other, is a recipe for disaster. Heck, one person in motion is enough to do the trick. The last time I nearly got in an automobile accident, I was just driving along the freeway, minding my own business, when suddenly the cars in front of me weren't moving anymore. (Hooray for modern brake technology!)

So whether you're a roadie keeping an eye on your power output, a runner with earphones blasting your favorite song, a dog-walker on a cell phone, or a motorist cruising down the highway, minding your own business is, at best, likely to be a nuisance to others; and at worst, liable to get you both seriously hurt.

When you're out there doing whatever it is you do, stay alert. Be aware of your surroundings. Make it your business to know what the people around you are doing. And above all, be courteous. It isn't always enough to avoid an accident, but wouldn't it be better to have a story that begins with "I saw him coming and tried to stay out of the way, but that erratic SOB ran into me anyway."

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