Dad had been riding his bike from West Seattle to his job in SEATAC. When he changed jobs and started commuting to Mountlake Terrace, north of downtown, he decided to try to continue his carbon-conscious ways. He studied the bus schedules to see what it would take to get him to Mountlake Terrace in the morning. Then he poured over bicycle trails to find the safest route home in the evening. Finally, he had his plans laid for both directions of travel. The busses seemed to be the most confusing part of the plan. They are so much more complicated than trains. Trains can only follow tracks, but busses can go anywhere, making it difficult to ever be sure where one will end up on a bus. Also, train fares are simple, one pays for a ticket, and rides the light rail to where it is going. Not so for busses. There are region fees, and transfer fees, so the net fare can be almost anything. And the hapless rider is expected to have the exact change necessary to cover any possibility. So Dad decided to confer with Kimi on the subject. They agreed that two busses in the morning was probably a bit more than suburban Dad was ready for. Afterall, with so many places for random events to intercede, there was not telling where Dad would end up!
Dad had another brilliant idea. Since everyone else in the family was busy on the Fourth of July, why not take the dogs for a hike up to Lake Margaret. It seemed like a perfect plan. It was a chance to get out of the city, and enjoy the fresh air in the mountains, and when they reached the alpine lake, the dogs could take a swim. And Dad would only have to carry enough dog water to reach the top, since he could refill his water jugs at the lake. It was a perfect plan.
Dad was trying to make a right on red onto Collins Avenue from a stop light but he noticed that the car’s engine wasn’t running. Dad had pressed the accelerator on the rental car but, he was dead in he water. Puzzled, he looked down at the dash. The gauges agreed with Dad’s instantaneous assessment, the motor was off, but Dad’s foot was still on the pedal. Suddenly, the engine roared to life, and the car lurched into the intersection. Dad quickly took stock of the situation. He was entering the intersection several seconds later than planned. A host of things could go wrong now, based on changed situational factors: on-coming cars were all much closer now, pedestrians might have entered the intersection, bicycles may now be in play, new vehicles may have entered the intersection since Dad looked down at the gages. He instantly scanned the intersection, created a situational awareness map in his mind, and then evaluated stopping the car half-way into the intersection, or proceeding. He decided the best option was to floor it. As they say back in the Garden State, “When in doubt, gas it!” Dad made it safely through the intersection, and continued on toward his hotel.