Tuesday, July 6, 2010

So Much Depends Upon Wheelbarrows and Timing

A minute after I entered the freeway it happened - the red wheelbarrow soared from the bed of the pickup truck in front of me, and bounced to a stop. Up until the moment the wheelbarrow became airborne I’d been on autopilot, fighting the stupor induced by a four-hour Indesign class and wondering if the kids had made themselves lunch.

It took a split second for my brain to register that the large object in front of me was solid and ought to be avoided. It took another split second for me to slam on the brakes and hope the driver behind me wasn’t texting or reaching for his frappachino. Another fraction of a second to realize I couldn’t stop in time, and to glance in the side view mirror and hope no one was in my blind spot when I swerved.

Minutes before, I’d been chatting with a classmate about the design exercise we’d just completed. We compared thoughts on how clumsy it felt to be wrestling with programs so new and foreign, with things like control panels and smart guides.

“Hopefully it’s like driving,” I said. “Eventually we’ll be able to do all this by reflex.”

Precisely because I stayed after class to have this conversation about complicated rules and reflexes, I arrived on the freeway at the exact moment the wheelbarrow took flight. It was as if I’d just ordered up a test to prove I actually had driving reflexes.

If I’d entered the freeway an instant sooner, the wheelbarrow might have landed in the front seat with me. An instant later and the guy behind me might have redesigned my bumper, frappachino or no frappachino.

Earlier that same morning when I’d left for class, the brake light on my dashboard flashed on. I was already late and thought about dismissing the brake situation until later. Instead I decided not to take a chance, and submitted to doubling back home to add brake fluid.

Some days just work out like that.