The first time I saw a Road ID magazine advertisement, I was appalled. It asked me to imagine a teenager driving toward me, careening around the corner, distracted. We need Road ID in case that crazy teenager manages to hit us. How fear-based! I thought, how unrealistic! (Not to mention generalizing about teenage drivers!)
But then I realized teenagers were the only thing I don’t imagine killing me while I’m out on a run. So I went ahead and added them to my list of fears. And I bought a Road ID anklet.
Recently, I asked my Facebook friends if they bring some sort of ID along with them in case they have an accident while running, and a majority said, yes, it’s very important. But I didn’t ask them if they spend time worrying about being hurt while on the run – actually putting that ID to use. I imagine they think about rainbows and admire the birds flying past, gingerly stepping off the bike lane to the sidewalk when a careening car of teenagers passes by, quickly returning to their thoughts of world peace.
But maybe they think about the same things I do:
Getting smashed by a car.
Whether or not it’s a teenager driving, getting hit by a car is my biggest fantasy while running. Yeah, I should get out on the trails more often. But then my other fantasy kicks in…
Being hit over the head with a pipe, my lifeless body being pulled into a van.
(TMI Alert!) A number of decades ago I lost my virginity in a van. Not an SUV but one of those almost-windowless vans that only creepy virgin-stealers drive. I don’t blame this guy – he didn’t do anything I wouldn’t do if I were a 18-year-old van-driving high school guy, but it doesn’t keep me from thinking that vans are harbingers of Men Who Pull Their Penises Out Unexpectedly. I’ve spent miles thinking about what I’d do if a van pulled up to me, and it usually involves a knee (mine) and balls (not mine).
Being attacked by a dog.
That’s pretty straight-forward. Dog runs up, grabs my leg with its powerful jaws and won’t let go. I imagine implementing one of the Three Throws: (1) throw a doggie treat, (2) throw a fit or (3) throw a punch. I could also have the sense to reach into my pocket for my cell phone (if I have it) to call 911. Hello? I have a dog’s jaw attached to my leg!
Slipping on road kill, hitting my head on the pavement.
This is a brand-new one I made up this morning!
Whatever the source of the accident, I imagine my cold, lifeless body lying on the side of the road. The police arrive and notice I have my very stylish Road ID anklet. Stefan is immediately contacted and informed of my premature death, the kids have a funeral like they do with mice and lizards – lots of flowers and a big rock – and Stefan remarries, choosing someone who’s much better at math than I was.
I’ll insert here that it’s perfectly normal to think through worst case scenarios. Our brains are programmed to plan out the details of danger, even if it involves our death. While I don’t claim to be a scholar of evolutionary psychology, it seems obvious that our lives have been sterilized and structured for safety, yet our brains are still on the lookout for lions and drought and spears.
Some might say that wearing a Road ID’s product is telling the Universe: bring on disaster! Like carrying a condom in your wallet, road ID sends a message out. But I appreciate the sense of safety I get from my stylish black anklet. I got used to the fact that their ads are sensationalized because their product is, in fact, in preparation for a very horrific event: a situation where I can’t tell an EMT who I am, where I live, how to contact Stefan or that I’m a donor. (It can also convey that you have medical allergies.)
The Road ID has a sort of minimalist Matrix vibe. I imagine Mr. and Mrs. Kidnapper driving by me, the woman saying, “not this one, honey, she could have a retractable ice pick in that very stylish black anklet.”
While it doesn’t allay my fears of death and dismemberment, my ID will help me get through an accident if it ever happens. I suppose my fears could be handled in a different way – by running with a partner. Hello?