GUEST POST | Getting Wrecked
Sorry to disappoint: this post won’t be about our collective experiences as college freshmen at university X, engorging the sweet nectar that filled those red solo cups. Do people still use similar phrasing to describe partying? One can only hope.
Despite what we could conjure up on those trips down memory lane, I am focused on the literal meaning of the word wreck, as in a car wrecking Jake and his bike (RIP Bike). Roughly 10 days ago, I was biking home on Florida Avenue in D.C. when a sedan took a sharp left turn across two lanes of oncoming traffic. The sedan cleared any potential cars, but that didn’t stop the driver from t-boning me as I passed through the intersection. We’re talking flying cyclist landing on the hood and then pavement kind of accident. Bike marred beyond repair. Gnarly stuff.
Without question, I was incredibly fortunate to leave that accident with bruises and a jacked up bike, but generally in good health. Needless to say, such an event greases the cognitive axles. I promise I won’t lecture anyone on being grateful for life or realizing what you have. Instead, the moment after I got hit, I started thinking about expectations.
I’d venture to guess that most of us do not have a plan for what to do in such a situation, unless of course you’ve found yourself there before. For whatever reason, once I came back to Earth and got out of the roadway, I just assumed that everyone would keep moving on with their day. However, despite what may have been a low expectation, I was overwhelmed with acts of kindness and concern. Numerous pedestrians came running over, offering medical assistance. The group of men who reacted to the impact like the crowd in an AND1 Basketball Mixtape (shout out Hot Sauce and the Slip ‘N Slide) moved my bike and belongings onto the sidewalk. Most importantly, the driver, who committed an honest mistake, pulled over and immediately came to check on me. At a moment where my first instinct was to take care of myself, I had total strangers rushing to do the job.
Reflecting on the entire scenario, I told multiple people that I got lucky – who would have thought that bystanders would spring into action, and how fortunate was I that the driver actually stopped to “do the right thing” and own any consequences? I still believe all of that. But part of me was bothered by the fact that my expectations for others were so low in this instance. Why shouldn’t we go out of our way to aid others, especially in a moment of crisis? I like to tell myself that I would have behaved the same way (having been on the receiving end, I sure as hell hope I would.) Acts of kindness are ubiquitous; people are not inherently evil.
Even still, I failed to uphold my expectations for others during this little accident, and as a result, I lost my good faith bearings for a minute. Why not expect, even hope, situations will pan out and people will deliver? I will listen to the arguments about setting one’s self up for failure, but I would counter that it is a cop out for handling adversity. So people will disappoint. No real surprise here, humans are prone to error. I would much rather charter a course that ascribes to high expectations from everyone, and in turn, hopefully push myself in the same direction.
When it comes to my family and friends, my expectations are often absurdly high, sometimes even unfair. I expect my mom to text me “good morning sweetheart” every day and my dad to email his ever-prescient wisdom to me at least twice a week, even if I forget to respond every time. I expect my phenomenal groups of friends to continue setting the world on fire with their success, and to keep enjoying our adventures with one another. I expect the November Project DC tribe (which I know the CPT boys have covered in more eloquent words than I could hope to) to be there every MWF with smiles and an attitude that simply kicks ass, especially on the days when I’m ready to self-indulge in angst. The list can go on and will for many of us: spouses, teammates, work, faith, etc.
Please do not misunderstand; I do not take ANY of this for granted. I am a firm believer that I do not deserve anything, good or bad, any more than the next guy. But there’s a reason I keep these people close – they usually ascend far past what I imagine people are capable of, radiating generosity, patience, and success. In return, I owe them my very best self, especially in their time of need, no matter how inconvenient or arduous it might be. This is the type of social contract that I think most of sign onto with those we care about. We might describe it as trust, loyalty, friendship, or love. Regardless, these relationships have signed us up for an agreement with one another. I expect all of you to hold up your end of the bargain and especially not to be afraid to call bullshit on me (accountabilibuddy, anyone?).
Oh and P.S., the accident did work out. Check out the sick new shred-mobile that the guy bought me in the title pic.