Sometimes Life throws the Unexpected at you.  By “Life,” I’m referring to juvenile delinquents on bicycles in North Philadelphia.  And by the “Unexpected,” I mean 28-inch, 10-pound road cones.

Periodically, Life aims for your head…

First, some background:

“Hope Street” sounds like it would be an idyllic (or at least innocuous) place. The type of place where one would expect to find relaxing yoga studios, hipster-saturated coffee shops, or quaint little homes with flower pots and window boxes that are overflowing with pansies.

Yeah, no.

I think that Hope Street got its name because “’Jesus Christ, Get Me The Hell Out Of Here’ Street” did not fit on the sign, and “Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here” was already taken.


Some parts of Kensington are gentrifying.  Hope Street is not one of those parts – at least, not the part I was on.  (Let’s just say that if you ever find yourself burdened by a surfeit of dead hookers, give me a ring.  I may know a place to stash the bodies…)

The first thing that one notices about Hope Street at night is that it is dark – Dark-Side-of-Pluto-dark.  Some things look better in the dark.  These things include: Steve Buscemi, my checking account balance, and Donald Trump’s hair.  An astute reader may have noticed that Hope Street did not make the list.  Hope Street, unlike Steve Buscemi, needs bright scalding lights.  Flood lights, follow spots, super novas, and all manner of photoluminescence should festoon every square inch of Hope Street. While this would complicate dead-hooker-stashing, it would mitigate road-cone-tossing.

Road Cones: A Brief History

Road cones were invented in 1940 by the American Charles D. Scanlon, who got the idea for the traffic cone while working as a painter for the Street Painting Department in Los Angeles. A patent was granted in 1943.

Some appropriate uses for road cones include:

1) Marking construction zones.

2) Reserving a parking space in South Philadelphia.

3) Traffic management.

4) Notifying people that a public restroom is being mopped.

Inappropriate uses for road cones include:

1) Being a projectile.

2) Being a projectile that is aimed at my head.

3) Being a projectile that is aimed at my head while I am operating a scooter.

Road Cones and What They Can Teach Us:

If you’ve never had brightly colored thermoplastic thrown at you while you’re trying to ride a scooter down a dimly lit road in a questionable section of town – let me assure you – you’re not missing a thing.  (If you’re lucky, the person gunning for you can’t set himself properly – because he’s pedaling a bicycle while trying to launch a 10-pound piece of awkwardly shaped plastic – and the road cone wobbles through the air before unceremoniously landing in a heap in your line of travel.  For the benefit of the uninitiated, here is a breakdown of some of the thoughts that may pass through your head, as you work to dodge [π × r² × (h/3)]-worth of airborne traffic pylon:

Road-Cone-Induced Thoughts:

  1. WTF is that?
  2. Wait, is that a road cone?
  3. Hmm, free road cone. Maybe I should bring it home. Meh, it’s dirty.
  4. Wonder where this came from. (Image of car flying off a no-longer-marked cliff dances through head.)
  5. Does this happen to other people, or just me? Probably just me.
  6. I’m gonna chase that kid down and beat the shit out of him with this road cone.
  7. Hmm, maybe not, he might be armed with something that outguns a road cone. (Paper covers rock; Glock beats road cone, etc…)
  8. Oh good, I have another blog topic.
  9. I’m sitting on a pink scooter, in an area frequented by road-cone throwers; I should leave.
  10. I’m definitely having a beer when I get home.

The Lessons of The Road Cone:

There is only one appropriate thing to do when Life throws the Unexpected at you:

Duck and Swerve

(Then feel a little sorry for yourself; fantasize about Vengeance; ultimately conclude you’re powerless to do anything; and go home and have a beer).