Newspaper Article: “Surprise!”

Here is an article from the column of mine which was printed in July, 2010 in the local newspaper:

“Surprise!”

July, 2010

Which are you? I’ve heard that “everyone loves being surprised”. But I’ve also heard that “no one likes to be surprised”. They can’t both be true. That means that you are either a “liker of surprises” or a “hater of surprises”. Maybe it depends on the nature of the surprise.

I think I like surprises that end with me receiving wrapped presents, cash, or vehicles. I like surprises that end with the officer saying, “I’m going to give you a warning this time…”. The surprise of hitting every green light without hitting the brakes while driving down Logan’s Main Street is a nice one. In high school, I loved the days when the teacher surprised us by getting sick and sending a substitute, thus pushing the quiz back another week. So, there are some good surprises.

And there are some bad surprises.

When I was fourteen, my friend and I were racing our ten-speed bikes through the streets of my hometown on the way to soccer practice. It was a late practice and the sun was already behind the hills so it was getting a bit dark. My friend had a small head start and was about three bike-lengths ahead of me as we approached the final corner before the soccer field. I can be a fairly competitive guy and the thought of losing this bike race to my buddy was not sitting well with me, so I lowered my head, grimacing as I did what I could to close the gap between my bike and his. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I spied an opportunity.

A local church sat on the corner of the block that we were speeding down. I quickly surmised that if I could cut through the parking lot of this small church, I would effectively shave a few seconds off of my time, thus securing a well-earned bike race victory before what was going to be a grueling soccer practice. At the last second and without any forewarning, I leaned to the left, hopped the curb, and made my powerful move into the small and empty parking lot.

Surprise.

The caretaker of that church must have been under some obligation not to allow any vehicles into the parking lot because the front of my speeding bike found a thick but well hidden chain spanning the length of the driveway into the lot. And, I’d guess that caretaker would have been quite pleased with the chain’s weight-to-strength ratio because my bike did not enter the parking lot. I did. I landed somewhere in the middle of the lot and I don’t remember much else. I do remember sitting out the first part of practice. And I remember walking my bike home after practice. I also remember wondering where my water bottle landed.

And if I remember right, somewhere between the sidewalk and the middle of the parking lot, I decided I was not going to be the type of guy who liked surprises anymore.

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