I’ll take the goofy jogger any day

I don’t believe in heroes. I don’t believe in gods. I don’t believe in heavens or hells. I don’t believe in things that transcend nature. I don’t believe in miracles. I don’t believe in anything that can’t pass the Missouri motto simply because I live in a continual show-me state.

These are just a few of the casualties of the hard boiled atheism, devout skepticism, and jaundiced slant of my world view. It’s a view that is basted with cynicism, flavored with sarcasm, and lightly sauteed with reflexive disbelief. If I don’t think you’re lying, I can’t possibly believe anything you say.

The unbearable heaviness of miracles and the heroes who work them

Heroes are so unremarkable, precisely because they’re so heroic. What else can Superman do, but save the bus from plunging into the turbid waters below? As my favorite blog and Facebook troll, Mr. Troll.I.Am Stone would say, “Yawn.”

For me, the levers that work my mind into a bleeding froth are the ordinary people with whom I daily or casually connect through cycling. Guys like Keith Dodson who, in case you couldn’t guess, is a wanker. I know he’s special to his family. His mother likely thought he was extra special, perhaps the specialest little boy ever born.

To the rest of us, though, he’s just another Long Beach freddie, a planet who revolves around the sun that is Martin Howard, a flailer who pounds the pedals ’til he blows, then laughs at the ridiculous fun of it all, then washes the whole thing down with pizza and beer.

If you can’t enjoy a few pedal strokes and a few laughs with Keith, there is something profoundly fucked up with your wiring. He’s as regular as they come, exceptional in his regularity.

How ordinary? He jogs, for Dog’s sake

Yesterday, as Keith jogged down the jogging path for joggers on the San Gabriel River jogging path, right there in the heavy element broth before the toxic river meets the poisoned waters of the Port of Long Beach, he heard a loud noise and watched in disbelief as a pickup burst through a chain link fence and slid off into the river.

The driver began trying frantically to escape through the rear sliding glass window, but his shoulders were too wide. The power windows had shorted, and he was trapped inside.

Keith then disproved the theory of evolution and laid waste to the notion that only the smart ones survive. He grabbed a big rock, sprunted fifty yards to the sinking truck, and did the unthinkable without thinking, ran the wrong way down the one-way street of survival of the fittest: He dove in.

The driver tried to kick out the window, but couldn’t. Keith tried to bust the window, now underwater, but couldn’t. After two more futile attempts, he finally smashed through the window…with his fist.

Where heroes fear to tread

However ordinary and plain and pedestrian and flailing Keith may be as a Long Beach freddie, he’s an exceptional man in the real world. He’s profoundly loved and depended upon by his family. He’s respected by his peers. He’s a giant among men in the non-lycra world of family, work, and friends, which is to say the only world that matters.

This was a problem, because the water was about to claim him, and he was getting ready to die, and that was going to be a loss for the people who loved him, who depended on him, who respected him, and who rode with him. He was getting ready to die because he had succeeded too well. The window had smashed open, and the inrushing water had sucked him partially into the cab.

“This is it,” he thought. “I’m getting ready to drown in some dude’s underwater pickup truck.”

Or not.

With a strength that Hercules would have easily mustered, but an ordinary wanker wouldn’t even know where to start looking for, Keith thrust himself against the onrushing water and patiently waited for three or four seconds while the water pressure equalized. You know, those quick three or four seconds underwater when you’re drowning and a drowning man is clutching you in a death grip and the truck you’re tangled up with is dragging you to the riverbed and out to sea. Those three or four seconds. The ones that prove relativity with more power and eloquence than any Einsteinian formula ever will. The ones that last about ten billion years each.

Impossibly for a mortal, Keith then wrestled the other drowning man out of the cab, and as lifeguards will tell you, this is where the amateur rescuer always becomes the second drowning victim of the day.

But not today.

Breaching the surface, a second ordinary, suit-clad office worker who had watched the whole thing on his first day at work in the Wells-Fargo bank building came plunging into the water, slacks and dress shirt and shiny banker’s shoes and all.

He and Keith got the driver out alive. Then they got themselves out alive. And after the cops and ambulances and news media came and did their thing, they went back to work.

They went back to work like the ordinary, pedestrian, unexceptional men they never were, and immediately became again.

36 thoughts on “I’ll take the goofy jogger any day”

    1. Filing this comment away under “highest praise from people I really respect and admire.” Or maybe I’ll put it under “things that make me happy.” Or maybe “comments that make my whole day bright and worthwhile.”

      Or all three.


  1. I always tell people that jogging is bad for them…thanks for confirming it! On a serious note that driver sure picked the right time & place to crash…

    Well written as always & do me a favor, next time you see your buddy buy him a pizza & some beer & send me the bill.

  2. I could not agree more with Cycletard. You are such a gifted writer and storyteller and analyst. I turn green with envy every time I read one of your pieces – and it’s an envy that I absolutely relish – like watching my best friend climb a hill twice as fast as I can. I wish I was this good – but am just more geeked out that you are and that I get to read it. Full marks!

    1. The kind words are profoundly appreciated, as I’m pretty much the Praise Whore of All Praise Whores. Thanks–

  3. GEEEEZUS…..amazing….anti-‘yawn’….

    how do you make me fucking tear up with a few paragraphs…when can i meet this Keith guy…fantastic…incredible…that 3-4 seconds is where it’s at…

    1. Not my fault! The dude who risked his life to save a stranger? Blame him! You’re right about the 3-4 seconds being where it’s at…everything and nothing in the long blink of an eye.

      Turned out the driver had a medical emergency, but for all Keith knew when he was underwater, he could have been sacrificing himself for some mid-morning drunk driver. Amazing stuff, humanity.

  4. Seth, you’re like a purpetual Santa, bring a bit of joy to the morning every day, great post and thouroghly enjoyable to read.

    Next ride I am going to ask you about your athiesm, either all of this stuff was created by a higher power a view that is a leap of faith, or it all came about by accident from nothing, a much larger and more difficult leap of faith in my mind to justify. Your a smart and talented guy and I would love to know your thoughts on the topic. It should get us through 20 miles of riding or so!

    Thanks for continuing to create a great cycling community in Southern California.

    Have a good day,

    1. First things first: Welcome back! Awesome to see you on the bricks where you BELONG, and am looking forward to your regular participation. I’m guessing a month or two at most before you’re charging off the front again.

      Second things second: My atheism is simply expressed–“Show me.”

      Third things third: We’ll get through more than 20 miles on that topic!

        1. “Shooting dairy cows with a scope and high-powered deer rifle,” as PJ O’Rourke put it.

          Thanks for reading, Marco.

  5. At the risk of being flagged for piling on, let me also say your blog has been one of my daily haunts for months now. Not sure how i stumbled onto it, living a few thousand miles away. But what stands out to me now is that as ‘local’ as it may be intended the characters and stories, particular todays, a such as this one and the characters you write about are not.

    1. My fat fingers and the iPhone keypad have never been a good match.

      Anyway, love the blog. It’s ‘local’ and I’m not ,but the characters and stories do well across the country.

      1. Best way to get local is come out and ride the NPR or Donut Ride with us. Shoot me a heads up and I’ll make sure you get a pair of special NPR socks.

    2. Yep, you tripped the “overpraise” limit thingy. But thanks!

      All politics are local, but all local cyclists are universal. Thanks for reading and for taking a minute to comment.

      1. In that case, “Piss off Wanker!” I believe in God, vote Republican, and ride mountain bikes. I no longer jog because it is the joggers who get abducted and raped, find the dead body, or jump in a concrete river to save a driver. Truly a heroic act to which I say, “Well done sir.” As for your writing, eh.

        1. You’re a hero every day, I don’t care how you vote or what you believe.

          When we dial 911 it’s some dude like you who puts it all on the line.


  6. I can’t tell if you are getting better or if it is just that I am reading your stuff later at night after the beer and tequila have kicked in. Whatever the case, there is some kind of ass kickin’ going on here, of some kind.

    I’m not going to turn all of my readers on to your site, but I do have a select few I will be sending over. The Wankers. I may lose ’em…but you deserve them.

    Don’t slow down.


  7. Oh no, it’s not the beer and tequila. (It’s usually bourbon for me, anyway, but at 6:30 am PDT that’s even too early for me.) TJ sent me over from the Trailer Park with a note that you were a baller with a word processor. He’s right.

    Evidently a wanker with a bike but a baller with a typewriter.

    I’ve signed on for more musings and look forward to the carnage.

    Keep it up!

    Brian in VA

  8. I was going to say “cool story bro” but everyone already said that. Though you captured the remarkable in the ordinary quite remarkably 😉

  9. Hiya Seth – Good Old Tim Joe sent me your way. He is quite the wanker himself. Do not deny if you ever have the opportunity to ride with him. Me? I’m a Christ-follower wanker who does not like many Christians and believes the church does a wonderful job of hurting folks. It would be good to share life over a beer sometime. Peace.

    1. Reflexive greatness to help others without regard to one’s own life. Amazing and inspiring.

  10. Who says you don’t find bodys when your out on the road bike? I found a missing lady last December in a ditch and still have trouble when I ride by that spot. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful story of humanity.

    1. Wow. That’s terrible. But good for you for finding her. It must have made a huge difference to her loved ones, finally knowing.

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