The Phone Call

"Call an ambulance, and get the hell away from me."

Yesterday was a great day. I had planned a peaceful day with my girlfriend, sleeping in late and doing a late brunch here at home, then some easy chores, a run to the storage unit, a stop-by to see my old friends/family at my former workplace, then a whole lotta nothin' until dinner. We had planned a nice meal with good friends—this was a special occasion calling for whatever we wished off the menu, just sitting and communing with one another over some great food. I had the cat in the bag, going into a late June sunset, drinking a glass of Siena red wine, talking and joking and laughing into the night.

At 8:07 p.m., Doorag called me. Had to tell me of the news: One of ours had gone down. Hit from behind at about 40-45 mph by a 17-year-old girl; she was fiddling with the radio, not watching. Didn't even touch the brakes. My best buddy was knocked 25 feet high, and 100 feet out from where he was sitting, on his Buell, at the stoplight.

My heart jumped out of my chest. Every word Doo said next had more weight than I was prepared to bear, cognitive dissonance overload. I was on my feet and out of the booth at the restaurant quicker than my girlfriend and guests ever expected—they knew something was wrong.

"He's gonna be okay, broke his hand, got some road rash, but the hospital expects to release him within the hour."

Lady Luck and Jesus' own angels were riding with him yesterday. This I believe, empirical evidence be damned. I only hope that if I'm ever tested like that, I'll be that hard to kill. Somehow I doubt it. By this time my girlfriend had caught up to me, standing in the foyer, waiting for me to finish my conversation, which took two minutes and 41 seconds. Time has no meaning when you're being told that your brother is in mortal danger.

We returned to the table and our friends, told them of the news, calmed down and said our good-byes, then went our separate ways. Our friends were heading to Arizona—by then we were heading to Greenback to take some restaurant food and minister to the wounds and mind of my friend.

We got to his house about the same time that he did, got inside, petted his dog and looked after her needs, and listened to what had happened. We were there to take care of one of our own, and most of the work we had to do was just unwind his mind and try to bring some peace.

"Call an ambulance, and get the hell away from me."

This is what he had to say to the girl who hit him. Bless her heart, according to my buddy she was hysterical, freaking out in front of him—20 seconds passed before he could say anything. That's a long time to wait for an answer from a dead man. I can only hope and pray that this girl gains peace, knowledge, and character from what she'd done.

We were all once 16-year-old drivers, first time behind the wheel, given our own cars and free reign over where we go and what we do. (In the state of Tennessee you can drive at 16, earlier with more restrictions.) I myself and all of you have been there and done that, with widely varying levels of safety and success. Luckily for me at 14 I had my mom teach me how to drive; as early as 4 or 5 years old, I remember my dad letting me change gears in our old Ford Falcon. I was fortunate enough early on to learn to ride my motorcycle and not kill myself, although there were too many close calls to count.

My buddy today was out and about, stoved up as can be, doing his rounds as best he could, with people looking at him like he's beaten the devil. His bike's totalled, ended up underneath the bumper of the car that plowed into him. He showed me a picture of it he had taken himself, at the scene, just after the incident, when he had to say it:

"Call an ambulance, and get the hell away from me."

Yesterday was a great day. My great friend, my brother from another mother, wasn't killed.

Most motorcycle accidents don't have the happy ending I've just described. Let us all do what we can, be vigilant, realize and remember that the cage dwellers have many, many more distractions inside that cage than they've ever had before. We riders exist in the wind, outside those cages, by a determined choice. Yes, we are exposed to more danger and we accept this; we are only in control of what we ourselves do whilst in the saddle. Use your vision and your sense of time to determine what will happen in your space at any given moment. As far as I can tell, the time that a light changes from green to yellow is about one-one second, two-one second, three-one second, four.

Then red.

Plan for the green.

J. Brad Hardin is a rider from "Mur-vil" Tennessee, who may or may not have sold you your bike once upon a time. Ridden them all, from a Moto-Morini moped at age 12, through all kinds of rice, to his current rides: a '77 Shovel, an '82 Beemer, and an '05 Buell. His lifelong dream is to someday know roads the way Richard H. knows roads.