Friday, February 06, 2009

La Haine

Today was my day off, I didn't commute. I went for what I thought would be a pleasant (18°) ride in the country. Now I will humorlessly vent my frustration with the motoring public. During my average ride three things occur which cause me anything from extreme consternation to outright anger. Sometimes I'm, as they say "asking for it" (I am riding alone, sometimes at night, and dressed somewhat provocatively) today, I assure I was not. I was just riding along. Really.

Incident #1:
I stop at a red light (I do that sometimes) and a shuttle bus for one of the suburban office parks turns through the intersection. The driver slows down as he's turning, makes eye contact with me, and holds up his middle finger. This was one the most infuriating things that has ever happened to me (yes, I lead a tough life). It was just straight up prejudice. He doesn't like "My kind" so he expressed unprovoked animosity at my very presence. I wanted to chase him down and inquire as to what his gosh darn problem was, but I was pinned down by traffic and a little voice inside me said "Hey...Hey Thom-Thom, you're a 165 pound weakling". I kept riding, angrily.

Hey Shuttle bus driver, you drive a shuttle bus to office parks in Waltham. You take Viagra before your hot date with your hand every Saturday night because your lifetime of lethargy and your no-physical-exertion-required job has left you with the circulation of Miniature Donkey Talk Magazine.

Incident #2:
Almost too common to mention, but here I go. Riding with a tailwind down Route 20 heading back toward Weston. I had just pulled off into the mouth of a side street to let a Semi-Truck pass because he was having a hard time getting around me. My courtesy was repaid a moment later when a guy in a totally hot, white Pontiac Grand Am pretty much drove under my left elbow. Again, totally enraged, I went gunning for him, time trialing at 22MPH (44 X 17 on the fixed gear, what you going to do?) hoping to catch him at a light. This time the little voice didn't go off until after I had exhausted every possibility of finding him.

During my fruitless pursuit I actually passed the Weston Police station. If I went in there and told them "Hey, a guy just got out of his totally hot , white Pontiac Grand Am and chucked a very small rock at my head and missed". They would have undoubtedly taken to the street (Weston is a very quiet town, the most action Police there get are "Suspicious Person" calls regarding "people of the other races" out canvassing for environmental groups and the occasional report of a "Disoriented Squirrel") and hunted the guy down. Since he only took a swipe at me with a ton of white steel and incredible lameness he wouldn't be worth the effort.

Hey, white Pontiac Grand Am driver...I don't think I really need to go on.

Incident #3:
Scary. So after getting rerouted by my belligerently, impotent idiocy I wound up rolling down Weston road into Wellesley. There are a few blind corners, a few little rollers and traffic tends to average about fifteen miles per hour over the speed limit. It is not my favorite road to ride on. Coming up over one of the small rollers one of those really aesthetically pleasing BMW X3 thingies blows by me going about 50 (in a 25 or 30), crossing the center line badly. This was good for me because they gave me some space, they did not, however give the oncoming car any room at all, sending them into the shoulder where they smashed through piles of ice and snow, blaring their horn as their children stared out the window wide-eyed.

As I rode along I thought "Wow, I just almost watched people die". This time, without even trying I caught up to the ugly little box-car at a light (you have to upgrade to the X5 to get a BMW which is faster than a fat guy on a bike). I pulled up alongside the driver's side
and for whatever reason, she opened the window. I saw that she had a teenager in the passenger seat and two babies in the back. She and the teenager were on their PDAs texting. I asked her where she was going in such a hurry that it warranted risking the lives of herself, her children, and the people in that oncoming car. She looked up from her PDA blankly and said that she had no idea what I was talking about. I told her what Iwas talking about (at this point the light had changed yet she sat there with a "lights on nobody home" expression on her face listening to my frothing lecture. Her tactic worked, my emotions transformed from rage to a kind of resigned terror. "Just be more careful" was all I said as I rode away.

Hey, lady in the BMX X3, I understand your problems are environmental. The people of Wellesley (or Weston) are much too preoccupied with the making of money, the spending of money (in your case your husband's money), and the planning for how their children are going to make money to allot any brain capacity to driving a car in a manner which doesn't resemble a two year old on a sugar crash running around smacking their head on every inanimate object in the house just before bedtime.

If nothing else I will sleep better tonight.

And yes, I took about nine billion self-portraits the day I rode to work and it was 5° out. I was pissed off, red, and kind of puffy. They come in handy.

The photo below has nothing to do with anything I'm talking about here today.


Ryan said...

Whenever I point to indicate my turning direction now, I scream POINT LIKE CHAMP KIND.

My friends are getting tired of it.

Eric said...

I might know that shuttle bus driver. Several years ago I commuted regularly from Alewife out to Waltham on one of those shuttles, and kinda got to know one particular driver. I never heard his opinion on bikes specifically.

But he was an angry little dude, who showed up at least one monday with a face full of bruises from a bar fight.

Cathy said...

Yikes - too many close calls. But one question - you didn't even rant on the woman TEXTING WHILE DRIVING?!?!?!?!?

Be careful out there.

Al said...

Nice day Thom. Sounds a lot like the rage that's been boiling over in me since Tuesday. I've adopted using a diabolically successful counter punch with tailgaters on my auto commutes: A nice wave that says "Hey there. I KNOW you!" I reserve my most aggro horn blaring for the same-lane, as in passing while still IN my lane, passers and scream "YOU FACKING IDIOT!!!", It usually calms me down. On the bike, I kinda have to defer to the 3000# of metal, which is humbling...even on a deadly sperm backup day until they pull into their urgent must-have-caffeine-and-sugar-now Dunkin's drive thru destination and I ride up alongside them and stop and glare at them through their open window, close up, silent, freaky. Boo.

Colin R said...

The X3 story didn't go the way I was expecting... Usually the overtaking car goes WAY OVER the yellow line in a blind spot, nearly kills someone, and then acts like it's your fault they made the decision pass at a blind spot. I'm not sure complete obliviousness is an improvement.

Hill Junkie said...

I've had a car pass me way over the yellow line, ran an oncoming car off onto the shoulder, then the oncoming driver screamed at me for being on the road. When 99.9% of motorists hate cyclists, motorists tollerate each other's illegal driving behavior around cyclists. Like it's expected.

James said...

Maybe the bus driver has turrets? OR maybe he was flipping off the lady behind you in the X3. He could have a hatred for people texting while driving too. I guess I'm fortunate to live in a less trafficy area. Be safe.

mooradian said...

Maybe you could compile a bunch of these stories from all the cyclists you know and put this literary gift of yours to work with a book. I have alot of them to share. How about getting hit with a full 32oz big gulp on the coldest night of the year. Talk about rage

Andy said...

thom, you need to give up the notion of catching these moron drivers and just carry a couple good sized ball bearings in your bibs. Oh, and no story will EVER beat the guy that maced himself! you need to do a re-post.
And if you ever write a book about all these events that one should be in the title.

the original big ring said...

With that self portrait photo of yourself, very much resembling Clint, you should start carrying a 357 magnum with you. a gun is very therapeutic for a$$hole drivers. you need a gun. a gun is the answer and the sane thing to do. as for grand ams, they are pretty much the nicest cars on the road.