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Should Electric Cars Make Noise?

by Matt Weeks

Matt posted a hair-raising lesson on LinkedIn about electric cars, distraction and gratitude. He wanted to share it here, also.

matthew weeksThis is a gratitude post. No fancy photos and no clever links. Just a shout-out to the universe for allowing me to be around and complain.
I have friends with cancer. I have relatives with dementia, heart disease, mood disorders, I have people in my life with serious injuries to recover from, life disasters, and more. So I don’t have much to complain about that rises to the level of those “legit” complaints.

Today I got a kind of a wake-up call at lunch. I was hit by a car.

While walking. I was coming back from lunch, crossing the street with the light, in the crosswalk. And for some reason my phone was in my pocket— an unusual thing when I’m taking a break or walk during the day. So I had all my wits about me and was presumably paying attention. I was in my suit (I wear suits at client sites, which are typically hospital systems, clinic systems or other large healthcare organizations), and was walking leisurely, not too fast. It was a warm day and who wants to sweat in a nice suit, right?

A gentleman was in an electric car. First alert—people, electric cars make no noise. So you have no warning in your blind spot as a pedestrian or bike rider. A cute little BMW i3 I think. Kind of like one of those tiny smart cars. Same shape, flat short hood. He was on his phone texting or otherwise looking at the screen. His light was red. Mine- green with the white “walk” sign just starting to count down. He swung around and zipped right into the crosswalk to make his right turn… into me. He never saw me until I was on his hood. I was two steps off the curb. I never thought to look again over my left shoulder. I had the light. There were about four or five others ten feet in front of me in the crosswalk, and if he had come 10 seconds earlier he would have hit that bunch of people, including an elderly woman and someone with a dog on a leash. The dog would have been roadkill for sure. I don’t want to think about the slow-moving elderly woman.

Why do I write this? To say “I’m grateful to be alive and grateful to have all of you in my life.” And also to say that my complaints don’t add up to a hill of beans compared to the others with real issues including the big C, and all the rest. Working lately in healthcare has given me great new perspective about how precious good health is. We take it for granted. We think we are immune from the statistics.

As a society, we live careless lives, are overweight, out of shape, putting toxins in our bodies. We think we are unaccountable for the way we treat our bodies. We think we are invincible, or we are just lazy about it. We walk around with our noses in cell phones indoors and out. We don’t notice our surroundings, much less appreciate them. Things like a gorgeous sunset. We’re too busy flipping posts in Facebook and Instagram and SnapChat and Pinterest and email. Liking a post. Making a post. Reading drivel. Is this drivel? Perhaps.

If you want a reality check go work at a healthcare company or volunteer at a hospital or clinic system. That’s where the people with legit complaints are. And they can’t just “solve” them.

Funny thing about this accident. 40-some odd years ago I ended up on the hood of a very nice woman in Palo Alto. I was riding my bike and had headphones on (not unlike many bike riders-especially commuters- today). She did not see me and as she exited a driveway without looking both ways, I ended up on the hood. I thought for sure she would pause and look both ways. Bad bet. She was distracted and was looking elsewhere. In a hurry. Luckily I was a bit more agile than I am today, and a lot more durable, and kind of bounced off and slid to the other side of the car, like a stunt man in a cop movie. She was more terrorized than I was. I was probably too young and stupid to understand what had almost happened.

Fast forward to today. Not as young, not as durable (probably only a bit less stupid) I looked to my left just in time to see this little car with the driver just looking up with a terrorized expression and no time to slam on the brakes in time. I was able to jump up and get just enough elevation to put my butt on the hood and break the force of the impact with my arm on the upper part of the hood.

The good news is that these cars are made of thin aluminum and it crushes like tinfoil on impact. So I left two nice big dents on the hood, kind of bounced off and ended up staggering away. I think my wallet took the blow instead of my hip or rear end. Thank you VISA and MasterCard. “Priceless” padding. :) I was in one of those adrenaline induced states where I was more worried about falling on the pavement and ripping my suit. My coffee was gone. No way to save that. I looked at the coffee spot on the concrete and had this terrible vision of what if that was blood. The mind does weird things.

After gathering myself and determining I was a) still alive and b) in one piece and c) okay enough to be mad but shocked enough to be happy to be in one piece, I was asked for my insurance information…. apparently mister wonderful was going to try to make a claim. There were about three people left around us, asking if we should call 911 and at that point someone made the point that they saw him run the red, looking at his phone and that he hit me in the x-walk. I declined to give my info and allowed as how I was walking back INTO a healthcare clinic and that he should be happy that I was not more banged-up and asking for treatment. I just wanted to get back to normalcy. Probably still in shock.

He took off, I came back to the office and sat down to assess how lucky my life is, to be able to complain about distracted drivers. And to be walking around to talk about it. And to warn my friends and family about electric cars at intersections… you can’t hear or see them coming when they zip around corners.

On a bike I guess I would have been more vigilant, but as a pedestrian I had this kind of invincible feeling of being protected walking with the light and the “Walk” sign inside the crosswalk. That’s not so. Be vigilant. And thank you Sensei Mirko and Senpais David and Jessica and friends for the recent agility work in jumping and spinning this week that probably got my body primed to jump up and turn around to break the impact. Not Kevin Durant elevation but just enough to get up over the bumper and onto the hood with my rear end and upper body. Note to self— practice jumping more. And look both ways twice at busy intersections.

My daughter is learning how to drive this year. I am her teacher. This is a great example of what distracted driving can do. I am not 100% guilt free in that department. I’m taking the pledge to stay off of phones 100% while driving except for bluetooth and headsets in one ear. Just too much at stake and just so many times to dodge the bullet. And maybe the Universe was sending me a reminder message today.

And to my friends with legit concerns… prayers to you that you come out of your battles and win the war. We’re only here the better part of 100 years give or take. It’s not fair what’s happening to you.

And now I’m leaving the office and driving out to watch the sunset. :)
No Instagram post. Just taking it in and enjoying it. I’ve posted my share of pretty sunsets. This one is just to look at. I encourage you to do the same, to honor our friends and family that have bigger problems than the rest of us. We can all enjoy the same sunset in sync from wherever we are. No Instagram/snapchat needed. We are the lucky ones. ‪#‎gratitude

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