A couple months ago my good friend and cyclist-about-town Stephen, was returning home veeery early in the morning from a group night bike ride that then went even later seguing into a party for a friend of his. In getting back to Echo Park he opted to take a route from 4th Street that brought him up into Silver Lake and down the boulevard where I live, which is really not at all a boulevard but that’s immaterial.
Heading to Sunset and gaining speed on the downhill at some ungodly hour like 3:30 a.m. or something just slightly befor 3 a.m., he passed my house where Susan and I were asleep and then the house to to the north. Just past that as the grade starts to flatten out there’s an abrupt uneven transition from the original 1925 concrete roadway and the once-newer asphalt (that’s now in crappier condition than the concrete).
I’m familiar with that transition because I’ve crossed it several hundred times and know the perfect spot to do so. Stephen? He’s bridged it maybe a handful of times and to the unfamiliar if you hit it in the wrong place it has the potential to bounce you pretty good — especially if you’re maybe positioned a little forward or off-center on your bike.
So next thing Stephen knows, he’s going ass over tea kettle, probably around 15-20 mph or so. Of course, just as I would, he tried to get up and walk it off. Maybe rub some dirt on it. But what he quickly realized was that he was pretty seriously hurt. What he didn’t figure out right away is that he was pretty much unconscious for a spell as well. But what he least expected was a guardian angel to appear from out of the dark.
Simon’s his name, and while I haven’t met him, I get the sense he’d be the first guy to say he just did what anyone would do and scoff off the term guardian angel, but I know that’s how Stephen gratefully views him — me, too — and here’s why.
First off, at 3:30 a.m. how many people are out and about on our street? Counting Simon, that makes one, and he just happened to be out in front of our neighbors’ house to the north of us. Second off, he happened to be looking at the street to see Stephen fly past so when he heard the crash he knew what had happened. No big deal, you say? Well here’s the third and most amazing thing: Simon doesn’t live there. He’s a friend of our neighbors Dean and Haley and tends bar at their restaurant on Melrose called The Village Idiot, and he was house-sitting for them while they were away for that weekend. As I understand it, he’d just gotten off work and was chilling out in the night air for a bit before turning in.
So basically without waxing to rapturous over it, there was a whole bunch of little miracles of timing and circumstance and fate and destiny that had to align to put Simon where he was. If not, my good friend Stephen would have been left alone and bleeding in the middle of the road with a broken collar bone and a cracked helmet that thankfully prevented his head injuries from being any worse, and who knows what could have happened then. In retrospect I can only hope he would’ve realized how close he was to friends and made his way up our steps to pound on our door for help that would have come a-running. But that’s neither here nor there because instead Simon was onscene, getting a call in to 911 for the paramedics, getting Stephen and his bike out of the road and specifically hastening his delivery to an emergency room where he could be checked out and his wounds could be treated.
Guardian Angel. Period.
I learned about it the next day when Stephen and his wife Alice came back to the scene to pick up his remarkably intact and unscathed bike, which Simon had graciously stored for him.
And almost immediately afterward talk started circulating that a ride was in order once Stephen was mended — a ride from the location of his crash to the Village Idiot to celebrate Stephen’s return to saddle and to toast Simon (and tip him generously) for being such a shining example of samaritanship.
That ride is today.