The Morning Commute

Two strange things I saw on the way to work on the morning of Tuesday, July 6, 2011:

  1. An older Asian man, not unlike a Cart Lady, riding a bicycle, only his bulging trash bags, overstuffed with recyclable bottles and cans looted from curbsides, werre strapped down by bungee cords to the rack above his rear wheel, rather than tossed in a stolen shopping cart. I was waiting at a busy intersection (on the Southwest Corridor Bike Path at Whittier/Ruggles Street, for those keeping track), either for a break in the traffic, or for a walk signal so I could make my way across. Another bicyclist waited there with me (She was there first, and had clearly never heard of pressing the “Walk” button, but that’s beside the point). The older Asian man, on his salvaged Mad Max-esque warcycle of five-cent deposits, was heading towards me in the opposite direction. Rather than wait for a break in traffic — and it’s not like he was going very fast with all that weight on his back, so braking shouldn’t have been a problem — the man continued pedaling (slowly) across the street, with a mad smile. Perhaps he reveled in the thrill of near-death; or, maybe he was deranged and suicidal. There seemed to be more cars in the road at that particular moment than there had previously been.

    Even through the cacophony of revved-up engines and the mad blaring horns of morning commuters, I could still make out the strangest sound from the bicyclist. As one car swerved to avoid him, the man, unphased, cried out, “Bwang-CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG.” I’m attempting to spell this phonetically, of course — I’m not very well versed in foreign languages — but it sounded like the stereotypical sound of a Gong from a movie. Literally like the kind of magic Gong that cues the entrance of some kind of ancient mystic or fabled warrior. When the man finally reached my side of the street, he was laughing wildly to himself, and seemed to be completely oblivious to the presence of myself and the other bicyclist, plowing between us and nearly knocking us both over without a moment of hesitation.

    After that, the road was clear of all sign of cars, and we were finally free to cross.

  2. Riding down Massachusetts Avenue — a fairly major road through Boston/Cambridge, for those of you not from the area, and especially busy during commuter hours — I was preparing to turn left and pull into work when I saw a handicapped man in a motorized wheelchair. A man in a motorized wheelchair crawling along with the rest of the traffic in the middle of the road. Cars in front of him, cars behind him; he was fully situated in a lane of traffic.

    But no one seemed to notice or mind. Probably because he had decked his electric wheelchair out with banners and signs celebrating David “Big Papi” Ortiz’s win in the 2010 Homerun Derby the night before. It’s amazing the kind of things that people get away with in this city under the auspices of the Red Sox. They’re like the universal alibi.

So that was my morning. I guess what they say is true — “Tuesday’s coming; did you bring your coat?”

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