The first order of business, addressed in the headline above, is that I am now co-hosting The Athletic’s Metrospective podcast with Tim Britton. Our first show went live yesterday on iTunes and Spotify and The Athletic itself, and probably wherever else you get podcasts. Please do check it out. Tim’s a smart and funny guy who knows a ton about the Mets, and I think it went very well for our first show together. I imagine it’ll only get better, and I’m excited to be opining about the Mets again in a public forum on a regular basis.
The second thing is that I was hit by a fucking truck this morning. True story. I’m OK. It wasn’t moving very fast.
Some background information: I am currently in the best shape of my life, and I’m not just saying that in the halfhearted way baseball writers say that about old retread dudes showing up fit to spring training. Tomorrow is my 40th birthday, and I’m going to enter my 40s weighing less than I did entering high school. BMI is generally a pretty stupid metric, but by its standards I am almost certain I registered as either overweight or obese for more or less the entirety of my life until the start of December. Now I’m just -weight, I guess. It’s wild, I’m sure it won’t last, and I hope this stupid pandemic ends soon so more people can see how hot I am.
The full story of how I got here is a complicated topic for some indeterminate later date, but one component of it is that in June, after gaining roughly 15 pounds in the early part of the pandemic, I started running. I hate running.
It began as a strategic decision. The first time I took my kid out for a bike ride in the spring, he decided — after seeming perfectly happy in his bike seat for the prior two biking-seasons — that riding in the bike seat was in fact blood-curdlingly terrifying and that he would not willingly do it moving forward. I knew I needed to be getting more exercise, we had a jogging stroller, and even if running doesn’t open up the city quite the way biking does, it at least opened up parts of Central Park we’d otherwise never get to.
Then it snowballed on me, and I started running without the jogging stroller, and now, six months later, I am a guy who owns multiple pairs of running tights. I still hate running, but increasingly I find I am able to spend as much as half of each jog thinking about stuff other than how much I hate running. When I started, I struggled to run a mile without stopping. This past Monday morning I felt especially sprightly and tacked an extra 1.5 miles on to my normal 6.5-mile route for an even eight. I ran further that morning, I am certain, than I did in sum in the entire two-decade span from June of 2000 to June of 2020.
I mention all that because of my ongoing pattern, previously detailed here, of enjoying long stretches of steady fitness improvements before traumatic injuries or life events compel me to balloon back up. This particular stretch has lasted long enough and been successful enough that I am clearly overdue for injury, so at this point pretty much every time I go out for a run I expect it will be the day I blow out my Achilles.
You know what I didn’t expect? Getting hit by a fucking truck.
I don’t run every day but I am in full-on Mr. Fitness Bro mode right now, so on days I don’t run, I walk a long route down the East River, stopping at various places to stretch and do bodyweight exercises. Around 6:15 this morning, at an adult exercise area inside a park in my neighborhood, I opted to do part of my workout facing the river on a rubberized surface that exists for just such purposes. It was all very zen, until I got hit by the truck.
Maybe the podcast I was streaming about the history of science fiction was especially riveting, because I did not hear the truck enter that area of the park, and I certainly didn’t hear it come up behind me. As I was midway through a set of wide-grip push-ups, really trying to focus on my form to best engage my muscles, I sensed a light from behind me and, without really thinking about it, took it for an e-bike. Then I sensed it coming closer, turned over my shoulder to give this e-cyclist the business for biking so close to me, and saw instead the front wheel of the truck that was about to hit me.
Something on the front of the truck caught me on the lower back and pushed me forward, driving me into the ground. I yelled, “STOP!” what felt like a million times, but it did not immediately stop. Somehow I turned myself onto my back and was trying to shimmy my way out on my elbows, all the while yelling. The truck was turning and the wheel was, or at least felt like it was, maybe a foot from my head when it finally stopped.
I scampered out from under it, very eloquently yelling, “HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT!” I saw that it was a NYC parks department pickup truck, which at least explained what it was doing there. I got to a place from which I could yell at the driver, looked at him, and yelled, “HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT!” I imagine you understand.
Then here’s the bonkers part: He was a dick about it!
Despite having hit me with a fucking truck, the driver acted aggrieved, all, “Why were you laying there?” He did ask if I was OK, to his credit, and I assume both dudes in the truck were themselves a bit scared and shaken up by it, but basically they accused me of recklessness for exercising in the portion of the open, public park that is very clearly set aside for people to exercise in.
They didn’t really relent at all until I shouted, “why are you yelling at me? You just hit me with a fucking truck!”
I picked up my phone, which had fallen out of my pocket when I got hit by the truck, and made my way over the passenger side. Even though both guys kept noting that they come through that way all the time — which really doesn’t make any sense as an argument for why it’s not their fault, seeing as there are often people exercising in the area — the passenger-side dude was decidedly the peacemaker of the two, and he asked again if I was OK. I told him that I thought I was but I wasn’t sure because my adrenaline was high, and that I had to take pictures of the truck. They were fine with that, then they drove off.
I sat on a bench for a while catching my breath, thinking about how close I had come to dying, and also thinking about how close I had come to crapping my own pants. Thankfully it did not happen — insult to injury, etc. — but there was definitely some rumbling from below.
Since I’m sharing personal details, I’ll also say that I tend toward passivity and indifference, and I am generally so reluctant to inconvenience people that I fear I am something of a pushover. I don’t think I necessarily present myself as a pushover, it’s just that pushing back seems like a lot of effort, and most of the time I’m just all, “whatever, push me over,” without considering that getting pushed over might suck, especially if the thing doing the pushing is, say, a fucking truck.
So by the time I talked about it with a friend on the phone, my ire was fully up. I told him about how I wasn’t going to be such a pushover anymore, and how the new, hotter, 40-year-old Ted 2.0 isn’t going to take getting hit by a truck lying down. Because fuck that, right? I am here, paying taxes, riding out this bullshit in New York City, throwing socially distanced elbows at the supermarket to try to get paper towels, facing constant fear and neverending protocol, raising two kids, trying to make the best of it by exercising in the portion of the public park that is clearly set up for that purpose, and this is the thanks I get? Hit by a city vehicle, and a driver who’s going to be an asshole about it? No. I will not stand for it. No! Fuck yourself, de Blasio.
I called 311 and got the number for the comptroller’s office, because I guess handling such claims is something a comptroller does. I contacted my (very worried) parents and asked them to come watch my kids while I went to the urgent care clinic to get the bruises on my back, leg and arm checked out.
Then, while sitting in the exam room texting everyone I could think of, my outrage turned into a sort of giddiness, and I found myself delighting in the absurdity of it. I got hit by a truck today. And while it was perhaps the scariest bit of physical trauma I ever endured — I really can’t stress how close I came to getting fully rolled over by a truck — it was at least not the most injurious.