Standing in the garage tonight, I looked longingly at my motorcycle. It’s too hot to ride right now. I can feel the heat of the pavement through my boots, and the air that pushes through my protective jacket is furnace-hot. But I thought lovingly of the next time I will be out on the bike, feel the air rushing by. . . and get hit by a piece of trash someone throws out of their car window.
A lot of people in Arizona smoke, and when they are done with the cigarette, it goes out the window. Fire danger be damned, they can’t put it out in the car because ashtrays are now plastic and meant for coins. A cigarette butt comes out of windows on either side of the car, trailing embers. You can see it bouncing in the air stream, and you flinch when it smacks your face shield, drops in your lap and burns through your jeans. Good thing I wear gloves when riding the bike; although the drivers who watched me slapping at my crotch must wonder why a motorcyclist behaves this way.
Cigarette butts are the least of what I see–and sometimes wear–when people throw them out of car windows. I learned a long time ago that washable clothing is a must when you are riding.
Coffee, with and without cream or sugar, in cups from Starbucks and Dunkin
Donuts come flying out of passenger and drivers’ windows. So do Big Gulps, Slushees, ice cream cones. Food at 65 miles an hour is surprisingly hard. PB&Js leave a bruise at that speed. And that’s just the food. There are paper cups, napkins, whole bags of fast-food leftovers. Never money, though.
Seldom books, but often magazines, and once a baby diaper–used– and I was lucky to dodge that one. But I couldn’t miss the stuffed animal, shoe or hairbrush. Luckily, the T-shirt, beer bottle and teething ring weren’t close enough to cause damage. And the rope, sneaker and grocery bag with something in it were throw out of cars on the other side of the road.
When I tell people I ride a bike, most people tell me how we scare them because we stop too fast or they can’t see us. Maybe because they are throwing trash out the window.
–Quinn McDonald is a creativity coach who bobs and weaves her way down Arizona highways on her motorcycle.