Safety first.

I was on track to leave the house on time — total score. I hadn’t slept well last night, so I was up and at ’em earlier than usual. Backing out of the driveway this morning, I noticed the front porch light was still on. I pulled back in, ran inside, turned it off and got back in the car. The delay was only about 20 seconds.

Getting onto the freeway, I noticed the on-ramp meter had been adjusted. Each green/red cycle used to require drivers to consistently wait five seconds before they could hit the gas and begin to merge into traffic. Today’s lights were super speedy, and inconsistent. Perhaps they’re trying something new out, trying to keep us on our toes; maybe the old rhythm had become too predictable. Never one to argue with speed, I got after it when the green quickly greeted me.

I passed the Disneyland exit, then Harbor. The traffic around me was suddenly light, and I was wondered why. In the rearview mirror, I saw a couple of cars and a large truck getting smaller as I drove further. And in between them all was a downed motorcycle.

I don’t have a bike, but back in ’97 I took a safety course through the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. I passed the riding portion and toyed with the idea of taking the written test to get my license, but…nah. There are some things that I don’t trust myself around, and bikes are one — as the one in control, that is. Passenger, no problem.

Since that course, I’ve become hyper-aware and even a little protective of motorcyclists on the road. Drivers oblivious to them irritate the bejeezuz out of me, as it feels second nature to look for them at all times.

So when I saw this morning’s carnage, it was frustrating. Depressing. Infuriating. Who’s to say who did what, when, and how it all went down, but I know that the area around those two exits is one giant cluster of mayhem. And with cars and trucks jockeying for position and partaking in some sheet metal jousting, any motorcyclist in the wrong place at the wrong time doesn’t stand a chance.

Chill, people. Chill.

When I got to work, I wondered whether my porch light delay kept me out of the mess. Maybe it kept me from being stuck in the snarled traffic or, worse yet, maybe it kept me from committing the unthinkable and contributing to the biker’s accident. Maybe I was just meant to catch a glimpse of the scene and that’s it.

Who knows. Regardless, I was — in a small way — thankful the delay gave pause to the morning. I’m thankful for the scene stuck in my head and, at minimum, that it’ll make me look twice (but probably even more) in the coming days as I travel the same route. Be safe out there, people.

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