Location: Rochester, NY
Join Date: Jul 2004
So I was on my way to the dojo, when...
Anecdote time. Here's one fresh from last night, and on my way to the dojo, no less. The main drive from home to practice takes me downhill in a 55mph zone, and you approach and pass through a T intersection to the left of what is a 4 lane roadway. After this intersection is an immediate incline, and the speed limit drops to 35 about 50 yards uphill. Making a left turn, across 2 lanes of traffic, and then heading up the hill has been deemed illegal at this particular intersection, because traffic coming from my side of town is already at speed (55-60), plus, once you are in either lane, you have very little speed, and at the base of a hill.
Through a combination of them not seeing me, headlights and all, and their self assurance that It was ok to turn, someone attempted this illegal left turn when I was 20 to 30 yards short of the intersection, I was also in the left lane at this point. While wondering what the hell they were thinking I saw their wheels cross the dashed white line during the arc of their turn and went 'phew' for all of a quarter second(20 yds), thinking they were getting over now that they saw me. Nope They stayed in the left lane, apparently assuming I was going to move to the right(10 yds), which I understand is the best course, even if it means the right shoulder, but at this point I'm rapidly approaching car length. So, instead of staying in the assumption game, I make for the least likely outcome of their actions, and move to the left shoulder. I was closer to the left shoulder, and if they were going to assume anything, it would also be to evade to the right.
As it turned out, they stayed put, and thankfully the highway department had removed a dead deer that had been unlucky earlier that week, and had ended up under the guardrails and mostly on the left shoulder. As I eased back on to the lane, they most deliberately employed their right blinker, and moved into the right lane.
My most immediate impression after clearing the scene and noticing them getting into the right lane was some kind of euphoria, but something closer to a satisfied blood lust, not for just saving my skin and our vehicles, but for the way it happened. My familiarity with the particular road, my car, and with spatial perception of the road in general. I should say this is the closest I've ever come to eating airbag, though I always where a seat belt. I drive a lot, and having bought this used car, my first, back in may 2003, by may 2005 I had put a solid 60+K on top of the OD, well over twice the national average per year. That, and I bought the car while living in DC. The beltway is a great place to learn how people think (or don't, rather), and how cars move.
Previous reactions to close calls, even if I thought I handled it correctly, would set my pulse racing, pit in the stomach, etc, and none of them were as close as last night's event. My reaction was much different, and I was astounded by it. It felt a lot like the midst of randori when stuff just seems to move real well. Getting on the mat was no big deal, I did share as it was a small class that night. About half way through class I started to crash off the adrenaline, or, I was getting tired, and had no bits of adrenaline to kick in supplement as in ordinary practice.
Anyhow, I'm rambling a bit. I honestly think that even if aikido may not have contributed(which it probably did) to my approach to the event and during, it certainly has affected my reaction after such an event. Though don't take that blood-lust the wrong way. I couldn't think of a better term, and I'm a vocab nut.
Pardon the long, incoherent post, just wanted to share my observation of my own reaction.