|Time for a change|
One minute twenty-four. Eighty-four seconds. That's the time, on average, it takes the stoplight to detect my bicycle wheels, and turn green. I've sat through that 84 seconds in winter's cold and Arizona's summer heat. I've had SUVs and diesel trucks idling around me, convertibles with jazz warbling, and other cars with the boom boom boom of bass. I've seen cyclists roll up to the red light, filter through the waiting cars, and weave out across the cross-traffic. Quite often, I see car drivers pull up talking on their cell phones, checking their watches, and nervously inching forward. Makeup application in the rearview. Shouting at the kids in the backseat of the minivan. Delivery truck drivers turning right and barely pausing at the red. Cell phone appointment book yellow sticky scrawled directions you can't read list gotta get gotta go where's that bill she's waiting for this check. All this and more.
Eighty-four seconds. I've seen impatience grow into anger. Shouting skyward at the light that will not change. One guy banging on his steering wheel out of frustration. Brother, I wanted to say to him, it's just a little less than a minute and a half, it always changes. One woman (hey, I'm on a bicycle, the world is open 360 degrees all around me and I check it all out, OK?) with her head in her hands, cigarette smoke wreathing out the barely cracked window. Lots of conference calls on the way into the office. Real estate deals. Grocery pickups. Usually late, often in a hurry, time time time. It's the light's fault.
On the other hand, there are the chill doggies with their heads hanging out the back window, taking in the morning air, tongue hanging out, nose twitching to apprehend the wild universe of odor swirling around the sunrise streets. Along for the ride. I speak to them and they wag their tails.
One minute twenty-four. I've seen that be more than time enough for impatience to blossom into full-on anger. But: at what? A stoplight? A timing box? A detection loop? The blind stupid luck of catching the red light? Brother, sister, neighbor, friend, fellow user of the streets, I'm here to tell you, this light too shall change. I check up on it every morning, me and my aluminum bicycle rims parked right between the narrow space between the detection loops.
Be calm. Look around. At the date palms waving in the breeze, and the brilliant sunshine and blue sky, perhaps at the crazy peach-faced lovebirds that sing their heads off with the sheer exuberance of bird-being. The bunny munching the grass. Your eighty-four seconds of patience ensures successful, cooperative use of the public transportation system. Relax, be civil and contemplative. Take the pulse of the morning around you, the slow, rhythmic throb of the city awakening, be a center of stillness in the midst of the crazy manic rush. Like the guy on the bicycle waiting for the light. Still. Smiling. Calm. It's really only a moment. But if you lose it, if you let your anger loose, the results may last much longer. So take it easy. Here, I'll go through it with you. I started my stopwatch. 20 seconds to go. Almost there. Green. Get up. Go ride.