So there I was riding my bike south on Lincoln Ave approaching Wells where I would normally turn right. But up ahead there was someone in the street passing something to a passenger in a car (Tribune at this time of night?) before the light changed and the car drove on.
Oh great. What if I had I to stop at that same light and this person was going to try and sell me a StreetWise? Normally I would buy one but I didn’t have anyplace to put it if I did. My Yorkshire terrier, Junebug, was riding with her head popped out of my messenger bag which slung off one shoulder, and I was on my iPhone (forgot my headset) while riding with one hand.
As I got closer to the corner I realized that the person handing things out was actually a cute African American woman who was wearing reflectors on her arms. The reflectors reminded me of retro 90’s glow-sticks and were the only reason I had seen her at a distance because I wasn’t wearing my contacts which I really needed to see better at night.
Just as got to the corner, Reflecto-Chick jumped back onto the sidewalk and then a police officer jumped out in my path to replace her. Even if he didn’t yell at me to get off my bike and onto the sidewalk I would have recognized that he was real cop pulling me over. He was that close and under a street lamp.
I wasn’t mad that I had to hang up on one of my social networking friends. I was used to 140 character DM’s and tweet-communication with her anyway. Talking=exhausting! Besides I wanted to hang up and use my iPod for the rest of the way home. (I downloaded a new dance version of Katy Perry’s California Gurls.)
Reflecto-Chic turned out to named, Somalia, and a representative of the League of Illinois Bicyclists: Mayor Daley’s valiant push for bike safety, bike lanes and a greener city.
I was too nervous to ask the officer’s name because he kept asking me questions and then he informed me that I had broken the law by not having a light on the front of my bike. He also didn’t like seeing me talking on my phone while riding without a helmet. I think he held back because he thought I was going to cry because I was squinting but it was just because I lacked my contacts, which I did not mention.
The two people on the sidewalk must have rehearsed their good-Cop good-Samaritan routine because Somalia gave me a Chicago Bike Map and a handout for the “League” and told me that they were only concerned for my safety.
I told them that my friends constantly scolded me for not wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle when I lived in Long Beach, California. I thought it was perfectly okay because riders had the beach to their shoulders and long stretches of Pacific Coast Highway with no crazy cab drivers or buses to dodge. In those days I was “more me” than I am today and I also wouldn’t wear a helmet because it would mess up my hair. Besides, it wasn’t like I was going very fast or riding on the freeway, I rambled. I didn’t own a Harley. It was just a Honda Nighthawk, 360. Midnight blue. And it had a cowl-windshield. And it probably looked like the Batgirl Cycle. Had my friends pointed out that a helmet would have matched my motorcycle-riding-outfit…
I thought the officer was going to give me a ticket but, instead, he and Somalia pointed out that I was bald so I no longer had to worry about my hair being messed up and they let me go, Ticket-free. They could have let me go because they were laughing so hard and they both had to find a his and a hers bathroom to pee in because they were laughing so hard. I’m sure having cute Junebug didn’t hurt either.
I think Blago should call me, I have the perfect defense for his retrial. (You cannot borrow Junebug!)
In lieu of a ticket for breaking the law, I promised to buy a helmet and get a light on my bike.
In retribution to society, I am supposed to ask you to please check out http://www.chicagobikes.org/
This website is by CDOT: the Chicago Department of Transportation and it has it all. It’s got popular links to other biking websites, safety videos, and the online version of the Chicago Bike Map (streets for cycling) that I was given by Somalia.
And check out Chicago’s Bike and Roll. A new Bike-Share program in Chicago. http://www.bikechicago.com/
Please order your copy of Mafia Hairdresser, the novel about my life as a hairdresser to a mob couple in the 80’s, and subscribe to this blog!