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Bicycle Helmets, Bulletproof Vests and Rabbit Feet

I normally stay out of the helmet wars, I’d like to bring up a point that I think about every once in a while.

I spent most of my life as a newspaper photographer, so I had the opportunity to shoot life’s ironies: the smashed-up car in front of the church billboard, “Get Closer with God,” the burned house with the smoke detectors still in the shrink wrap from the store, etc. (One of my buddies made a hilarious shot of the Teddy Kennedy for President HQ that was sharing space with a driving school, but that’s another story.)

I know it makes no sense in the grand scheme of things, but, I believe that putting an Arrive Alive bumper sticker on your car is just tempting fate.

Maybe it’s just a paranoid extension of that, but I tend to make sure that any safety equipment I have is placed in use as soon as I get it. If I buy a smoke detector, it goes up as soon as I get in the house. I resisted buying a helmet for a long time, but when I started thinking actively about it, I bought it and wear it. Superstitious, maybe. Whistling past the graveyard, probably.

I covered 13 hurricanes. After Hugo, I went to Home Depot and bought a generator for $300. Except for firing it up every other season to make sure it still works, it hasn’t been used. I’ve gotten $30 a year worth of peace of mind out of the investment.

I also carry a body armor in the trunk. Now, I recognize that your typical “bulletproof” vest offers you about as much protection against today’s small, high-powered ammunition as a helmet does against a semi, but I never regretted buying it. I only wore it a couple of times, and I never actually needed it (the only time I was shot at I didn’t have it on), but when I got to a scene and got that hair-rising-on-the-back-of-the-neck-something’s-wrong feeling, I pulled it out.

Helmets, body armor and generators are the 20th Century version of the rabbit’s foot… Damn! Wish I hadn’t thought of that. Now I got to go out and kill some poor rabbit to be on the safe side.

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