My first post-gradschool job was in the Windy City during the reign of Richard Daily the First. He was constantly hounded by his critics in the press for fabricating new words. One of my favorites was “insinuendo.” Even though it was a brand new word, the mayor knew what it meant and it meant exactly what he intended it to mean. Take that.
Over the years I’ve invented several Daily-esque terms that made me smile; far too often they’ve been passing helmet thoughts which, soon as the kickstand went down, they scatter. One that’s been running around long enough to become lodged in my neural circuits, though, is “mundangerous.” You know what it means just by saying it out loud. It’s a mundane situation which – though perhaps boring — is actually quite dangerous.
A person’s daily commute must be full of them. Inured to the dangers of the everyday traffic situation simply by having performed the same maneuver repeatedly, our minds no longer recognize for its full potential, say, the blind curve to our left at the routine stop. Out of habit (there’s never a car approaching on this lonely road), we roll the stop sign with a quick glance over the shoulder which is much more an afterthought than a true precautionary measure. Your momma doesn’t have to tell you that sooner or later…
Another good example is the quick run to the grocery store. You won’t be going at interstate speed, and again – traffic is (usually) light. “Surely, jeans and a long sleeve sweatshirt will be sufficient,” you think as you dutifully pull on your helmet, leaving the jacket and riding pants on the hanger. It’s not particularly cold, so you leave the gloves behind, also.
We have a saying at Stayin Safe that goes something like, “You know, you can get away with that MOST of the time…”
Contrast the attitudes above with the mindset you adopt when you’re on one of your favorite challenging roads with some yummy curves you love to hit “just right,” or when you’re navigating a multiple-lane expressway junction in a strange city at rush hour. These situations are far from mundane, and you have every sense heightened to make sure you don’t make a slip. Are they any more dangerous? Who’s to say? Inattentive drivers are everywhere, and – let’s face it – we’re sometimes guilty of a misjudgment of our own which can put us in a world of hurt. Like when a vehicle actually does appear coming around that blind curve mentioned above and you’ve rolled past the stop sign onto that main road; too much front brake – a common panic reaction when the routine suddenly goes South – will put you and the bike down right in that vehicle’s path. Bitten by the mundangerous.
So, think about situations during your habitual ride which could fall into this category. Share them with us. And meanwhile, don’t get whacked by the commonplace.