In a departure from my normal Monday morning routine I found a dead man on my way to work this morning.
I was dropping my son at school a little early this morning. As I approached the south (exit) driveway I noticed a motorcycle over the stone wall and the rider lying next to it. At first I thought that it was an interesting place to take a nap and that it was awfully careless to let the sidestand sink into the ground like that. I suppose I still have a little IB withdrawal going on because the more I looked the less it seemed plausible that he was sleeping.
I entered the school and dropped my son off at the front door. As I followed the driveway I crested the rise and was able to see the body stretched out in what looked like a natural sleeping position, sort of upside down yet on a side. As I approached I could see his hands and wrists were blue white. When I checked for a pulse I was taken with how cold his skin was, there was no point in trying too hard. I realize now that once I found no pulse I moved away, not even looking at his face or taking in enough to tell now how old he was, etc. I can only guess by my recollections of him and his bike that he was between 40-50 years old. There was a cell phone a few feet away on one side and a pair of glasses on the opposite side of him. He was not wearing a helmet which is against the law in Massachusetts. Later the police could not find a license plate on the bike. Some may think it was stolen, perhaps he lived just down the street and was taking it for a test run after doing some service work, who knows?
I went down to the school office and told them to call 911. Interestingly enough they commented that they saw the bike. From the lower level of the entrance I looked up and sure enough I could see the bike but not the rider. I returned to the rider and was soon joined by the head of the upper school. He also checked for a pulse and agreed that he was really dead. He then asked me if we were supposed to do CPR or other life saving measures and I replied that at his temp he likely crashed sometime in the night and had been there for a few hours.
We agreed that there was not much to be done and when he learned I was a parent we decided that he would go make sure the arriving children were sent directly inside and I would deal with the police. The first officer arrived shortly and trotted from his car to the body, he too found no pulse and he radioed to the other responding officers that fact. Soon there were plenty of LEOÔÇÖs along with the EMTÔÇÖs on scene. I watched as they patted down the body and removed his wallet. Without fanfare the officer found his license, and then he knelt down by the victim. He grabbed his head and rotated it so he could compare the face on the license to the face on the body. Then the cell phone started ringing and the officer commented that they would not answer it.
It was all a bit surreal, this time I was nothing other than another cage driving parent, one of hundreds that would be circulating through the parking lot this morning yet I was the one who found the body. As a rider I got chills as I was given a live performance of a play I donÔÇÖt ever want to star in. I realized how much better it made me feel that he was not wearing full gear, somehow having it be a ÔÇ£typical harley riderÔÇØ reinforced the fallacy that all gear, all the time somehow makes us ÔÇ£betterÔÇØ or somewhat at better odds of survival. This realization (of the realization if you catch my drift) made me feel worse; here was a guy who was never going to answer his phone again.
If there is any point to this I suppose it would be the simple fact that as motorcyclists we accept more risk than the average person. Along with this risk goes some responsibility to keep our wits about us because for the person who dialed that cell phone number this morning, their pain is just beginning and will go on for some time.