There is a movie that came out last year about a smartphone app that can predict when you are going to die. Dumb premise, but while I (nor any app on my phone) can't tell you when I am going to die, but I think I can now tell you how I am going to die.
Skateboard. Not riding one mind you, but by being run over by one.
I hadn't been on campus long before I realized what a minefield it was. Despite all of the "no wheel zone" areas there were still plenty of places where wheeled transportation was alive and well. Bikes, scooters, and even roller blades filled the sidewalks and streets. But none more deadly than the skateboard.
At first it looked fun and animated and exciting. Boards of varying lengths, most with stickered wooden decks gliding through throngs of people. But since then I realized that being in those throngs of people wasn't all that fun, or exciting. It became a game where dodging, ducking, dipping, diving, and dodging were key bits to my survival. Now acutely aware of the whooshing, and the clanking of wheels on concrete, I had to be on my game.
I had just stepped off the campus-to-campus shuttle preparing for my short walk to class when I heard it. From the sound I knew what it was even before its owner whizzed by me. A skateboard. The campus that morning was littered with them. That is how I had begun to think of them, as trash, but I hadn’t always felt that way about skateboards. I, myself, had ridden one somewhere between years six and ten of my childhood. That is, until I landed flat on my back knocking the wind out of my lungs. From then on I relied on the eight wheels of my white booted roller skates.
He had gotten off the shuttle right before me. A tall lanky guy, maybe eighteen, with blonde floppy hair that crept into his eyes. He scurried around me to grab what I considered to be the longest longboard I had ever seen from the belly of the shuttle. This thing rivaled the surfboards that I remembered from my oceanside childhood. I could see stickers, yet they were all unfamiliar to me. An obscure band or cartoon character? I wasn’t sure.
About six feet ahead of me he set the board down on the sidewalk that was teeming with other pedestrians. Despite flicking his blonde hair out of his eyes to apparently see better, he made no attempt to survey his surroundings. In a flamboyant gesture he brought his right foot up onto the wooden deck and slid it back. Hard. I knew instinctively what was going to happen, and the board rocketed back at me with ferocious speed.
Muscle memory is a funny thing, and is what saved my bare shins that day. Before I even realized what I was doing, my right foot levitated and came down hard on the wooden deck of the board. The pressure of my right leg brought it to a stop, and kept in place. I stood there, in a shirt dress, with one heeled wedge sandaled foot atop the board looking every bit, I imagine, like George Washington crossing the Delaware River.
Its owner realizing he had somehow jettisoned the board in the wrong direction, looked back. Some laughter broke out from those waiting on other shuttles and a cry of “You go, sister” rang out from the small crowd. Sheepishly the owner came to retrieve the board, and I gave him my best raised eyebrow in reproach. Silently he trotted off, board-in-hand living to terrorize another student on another section of campus.
I would live another day to fight off more wheeled bandits thanks to my not-so-old reflexes.
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