By V. Finster
If you value your life, wear a helmet. Whether up to bat, operating a forklift or riding an electric scooter, protect your noggin. At 28, I am convinced that our quality of life is the culmination of all our micro decisions.
On Aug. 31, I dismissed an important safety measure that has negatively influenced my semester and could have drastically altered my life. I began the fall semester like many students do, optimistic, passionate and still working out the kinks of time management. While interning over the summer for a local nonprofit news organization, I spent several days covering the addition of electric scooters to the downtown area.
So I knew the safety risks.
The first time I tried to ride one, I put it back because, well, I didn’t have a helmet and the app clearly states that one should be worn for safety. My close friends laughed when I told them. They said they had never seen anyone actually wear one.
Several weeks later, I found myself downtown getting an assignment for my internship.
I made a micro choice to take a scooter without a helmet. The trip was affordable, quick and made me feel like a kid again.
Three days later, I took a scooter again.
By Aug. 31, I had ridden electric scooters several times and felt comfortable.
I left a meeting off Houston Street before noon on an electric scooter. And then, wham!
What followed were hours of sheer panic.
The doctors told me the memories would come back like a flash. They still haven’t.
I recall a bloody peach-colored towel directly after the wreck, which, I assume, a passerby gave me.
While being transported home and drifting in and out of consciousness, I recall a calm voice asking me “Why were you on the scooter? Where were you going?”
“I don’t know,” I responded to that and every other question. I knocked myself into 2016. I had to be told who the president was, a moment I can only compare to finding the Dark Lord’s horcruxes were all but destroyed.
This snowflake was quickly melting.
When I arrived home, I remember seeing blood on the tile and panicking. It was then my brain kicked into gear, and I asked my boyfriend to dial 911. I couldn’t remember my middle name, that I had insurance, or even the several antibiotics I was allergic to.
All I could remember was fear — sudden and sickening fear that I did this to myself and I would die after a preventable, stupid accident. I thought of my children, the only thing I could remember clearly, and wondered if they would ever forgive me for leaving them this way.
After an MRI, a tetanus shot and other tests, I was released early the next morning with instructions on how to care for a concussion and nasal and skull fractures and how to prevent blood clots and aneurysms.
Other consequences from the concussion included losing a week of school, which required classmates and co-workers to pick up my workload, and having to drop half of my courses because of poor attendance. The next month, I spent trying to catch up.
I can’t remember if I was struck by a vehicle, the scooter malfunctioned or if the conditions of the sidewalk threw me. I do know that had I been wearing a helmet, my body and brain would have been in better condition.
I’ve learned that life is short, shorter if you cut corners by riding an electric scooter upwards of 20 mph without a helmet on a street with more potholes than pavement.
We have the opportunity every day to value our lives with each decision, no matter how small. A poor micro decision can have mega consequences.