By Christopher Cudworth
The folks at the AT&T store had not seen anything quite like the shape of my iPhone the night I brought it in for inspection after crashing into a tree with the phone in the hip pocket of my cycling kit.
“It’s bent,” the store manager said with some degree of admiration. “How’d you do that? I’ve never actually seen one bent like this before.”
I explained that the $650 iPhone 5 was perched in my hip pocket inside a $40 protective case when I slammed into the thick trunk of a downed tree.
“Interesting,” he said, holding the phone up for another look. “It really is bent. It might have saved your ass.”
“That’s what the doctor said, too,” I offered.
“I don’t think it can be fixed,” the AT&T guy told me.
I already figured that one out.
“But the screen didn’t crack,” I laughed. “So maybe I can sell it for parts.”
Other store employees gathered around to admire the damage to my phone. “That must have hurt,” one of them said when I described the bike accident again. Actually, the bike was not at fault I told them. It was purely my lack of attention that caused the accident. My bike was an innocent participant.
At least I wasn’t texting, I told them. See, I’ve seen several videos recently about driver safety that scared me into safer driving and safer cycling. This PSA from New Zealand puts safe driving in a compelling human context.
We’ve all made mistakes while driving and cycling. 12 years ago when I was first taking up riding and was doing a 25-mile tour of a suburban bike trail I was nearly struck by a vehicle traveling 40 miles an hour. The trail dropped suddenly onto a street from the height of the former railroad embankment and I did not see it coming. I hit the brakes and barely avoided getting crushed by a fender.
So I was lucky this time that my inattention on the bike resulted only in a painful encounter with a fixed and immovable object like a tree. The daily pain in my lower back is the swelling wisdom of experience. The bruises are a clear reminder that paying attention is paramount when you run and ride.
But honestly, there is a chance that the damage done to my iPhone actually saved me from injuries that might have been worse. Fortunately there was a provision in my plan to get a new phone. It cost me $50. Who knows what the stitches on my chin will run me when that bill arrives?
So while I feel stupid for crushing an iPhone and crashing my bike into a tree, I feel a bit wiser for the experience. I’ll still ride hard and fast, but there’s a call to attention in all this. For all of us.
Learn from my experience if you must. Save your own phone from destruction, and save your ass from a really colorful, painful week of recovery.
Because accidents happen. They really do. iKnow from experience now.