Friday, June 09, 2006

An Immutable Law

Riding a bicycle in the city is a tricky thing — you need to grow eyes on the back of your head, as the saying goes. Alertness and good brakes are a must. Half the drivers think you have no right to be on the road and despise you as they would a poisonous, loathsome insect. The other half are simply unaware of your presence. It’s difficult to say which type of driver represents the greater threat, but it can be a war zone out there sometimes. Somedays I think wearing a helmet isn’t enough — full body armor might be the way to go.

Last night as I was riding home a carful of college-age kids pulled out from their metered parking place just as I approached them. I saw the car move, threw on the brakes, and yelled, “Hey! Hey!” very loudly, but to no effect. The driver, a girl, continued on her path. It wasn’t the closest call I’ve ever had, but if I hadn’t paid attention I definitely would have found myself break dancing on the hood of her car. Some fifteen seconds later I caught up to them at a light and shouted as I passed, “Awareness — it’s a beautiful thing!”

Later on they eventually they caught up to me. One of the guys leaned out of the window and yelled, “Watch out for that puddle!” followed by a female voice that chimed in with, “Awareness — it’s a beautiful thing!” Now look — if someone gets off a good comeback at my expense, I’d like to think I’m man enough to admit it was a good comeback and perhaps even admire the wittiness of it, but that was just lame. So lame, in fact, that I actually found it funny and smiled. Eventually they had to slow down for another light while I continued to wend my way through the three lanes of cars to the front of the queue.

Then I heard two of the guys shout in unison, “Fuck you!”

Obviously everyone in the car had gotten over the trauma of nearly maiming a cyclist. Good for them that their fragile psyches came out of it unscathed.

Here is Schprock’s Law Number 42: In verbal altercations resulting from traffic disputes, neither party will ever get satisfaction. Never ever ever. The aggrieved party will never hear the instigator say, “Oh, I’m so sorry! What a fool I’ve been! Please accept my humblest apologies!” Nor will the instigator ever hear the aggrieved come back with, “Well, I could have driven a bit more defensively. Had I been in your place, I might have made the same mistake. And, of course, I know you didn’t mean it. We all learned a lesson today, didn’t we, my good fellow?” No, no, usually many swear words are vigorously spoken and a certain hand gesture employed. It is always that way.

Oh well, maybe the driver will look out for cyclists next time. Who knows? Maybe I saved a life by opening myself up to a bit of their scorn. Yes, then it will have been worthwhile.

Bastards!

26 Comments:

Blogger Flood said...

“Oh, I’m so sorry! What a fool I’ve been! Please accept my humblest apologies!”

Canadians say this after getting hit, while crossing the road properly at the lights.

You crazy Yanks.

5:44 AM  
Blogger tiff said...

You live in Boston - what are you expecting?

You want false apologies, come to the South.

6:30 AM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

No, they won't learn anything, they are superior to you because they are in a car and for some reason assume (more than likely) that you are too stupid to drive or too poor to own a car.

My close call to teenagers was on the freeway (why they weren't in school I'm still wondering). I was in the third lane and my exit was coming up, so I started to check my mirrors in order to change lanes. The second lane was empty and nobody had on their turn signals, so I put on my right blinker and moved over. No problems. I drive a few hundred feet when all of a sudden two teenaged girls just swerved into my lane, never looking, much less signalling, I had to swerve immediately back into the 3rd lane (thank God, I watch my mirrors regularly so I knew it was safe) and laid on the horn. They just looked at me and laughed hysterically and gave a little wave of condescension. I think I saw RED that day. I passed them and got on my way, but I was shaking the rest of the way.

6:48 AM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

with teenagers, not "to."

6:49 AM  
Blogger LL said...

I have no problem owning up to my driving mistakes. I think that's better than actually getting in the wreck.

6:49 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

Flood, you crazy Canuck!

I was pulling onto the rotary on Rt. 2 in Concord, and some guy to my left was trying to do the same, false started a few times, got frustrated and slapped his steering wheel like a madman. I stopped and tried to make eye contact, to say, "Mellow, my friend." What is it about getting behind the wheel that makes us such animals? I can only guess that we feel isolated and invisible, so we are free to be ourselves. This is obvious when you see people drilling for oil in their nostrils, oblivious to the family laughing at them at the light.

6:52 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

Pop over to Trina's blog and read the comments. Help me out.

7:19 AM  
Anonymous dreadmouse said...

You know, I've always wondered if slipping a banana into a tailpipe reallky stops a car's engine dead like it does in the movies. Test that for us on the next jerk, will you please Herr Schprock?

7:36 AM  
Blogger Mrs.T said...

OY VEY - Sometimes humans scare me.

7:57 AM  
Blogger magnetbabe said...

I don't think they necessarily felt superior because they were in a car; they felt superior because they are teenagers and rule the world. We should bow down to them in all circumstances. If you crashed onto their hood you would have been obligated to apoligize for hitting whatever tin can their parents passed down to them for their 16th birthdays.

Sorry, Schprock, this post got me wound up. A friend of mine recently got hit my a car when he was riding his bike. He's okay except for a broken collarbone, but the woman driving had no freaking clue he was even there. Unbelievable.

8:27 AM  
Blogger trinamick said...

I'm way too chicken to ride a bike in the city. Of course, I'm spoiled, because out here there's not enough traffic to worry about unless you're on Main Street. That said, I still don't ride until after dark when nobody is on the roads.

8:33 AM  
Blogger Michele said...

They don't call people from Massachusetts "Massholes" for nothin'! And that was told to me by a native.

A crazier, ruder state of drivers I've never encountered. Massachusetts is in the top five for cost of auto insurance in the nation. South Carolina is number 36. When I moved here with my old car, my insurance DOUBLED, no exaggeration.

9:36 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"You crazy Yanks."

Oh, Flood, you don't know the half of it…


"You live in Boston - what are you expecting?"

I expect them to pitch in for my funeral expenses.




"They just looked at me and laughed hysterically and gave a little wave of condescension. I think I saw RED that day. I passed them and got on my way, but I was shaking the rest of the way."

Well, take solace in the fact that they'll all be going STRAIGHT TO HELL!!!


"I have no problem owning up to my driving mistakes. I think that's better than actually getting in the wreck."

There might be 2 or3 Boston drivers who might agree with you, my lord.


"What is it about getting behind the wheel that makes us such animals? I can only guess that we feel isolated and invisible, so we are free to be ourselves."

Actually, I think we view cars as extensions of ourselves. They make us feel powerful and impregnable.

Except for Cooper Mini owners.

"You know, I've always wondered if slipping a banana into a tailpipe reallky stops a car's engine dead like it does in the movies. Test that for us on the next jerk, will you please Herr Schprock?"

You mean you want me to go around carrying a banana in my pocket? Won't that attract comments?


"OY VEY - Sometimes humans scare me."

Be afraid. Be very afraid.


"Sorry, Schprock, this post got me wound up. A friend of mine recently got hit my a car when he was riding his bike. He's okay except for a broken collarbone, but the woman driving had no freaking clue he was even there. Unbelievable."

Oh, I could tell you stories of my accidents. Unfortunately, not all of them were the other guy's fault. Somtime my brain no work too good.


"That said, I still don't ride until after dark when nobody is on the roads."

Make sure you wear your reflector vest and blinky lights.


"A crazier, ruder state of drivers I've never encountered. Massachusetts is in the top five for cost of auto insurance in the nation."

And we're going for number one!

We're number one! We're number one!

10:07 AM  
Anonymous fringes said...

Dumb question that I can google for the answer, but do you not have bike lanes?

11:32 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

Across the river, in Cambridge, there are bike lanes. But here in Boston? Hell no! We run with the big dogs.

11:49 AM  
Blogger trinamick said...

"Make sure you wear your reflector vest and blinky lights."

I'd rather be hit by a car.

Out here, bike lanes are called the highway. :P

1:00 PM  
Blogger Shatterfist said...

That's what blogs are for!

Try not to take their assinine comments too seriously; you're clearly dealing with above average teen stupidity here. They might been on something, which could explain the driving - but I doubt it.

What you should do is set up a situation where you *pretend* to get hit and then freak the hell out of them. It shouldn't be too tricky for someone of your intellect. If that fails, try a sexy revenge!

1:19 PM  
Blogger Shatterfist said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:19 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

Oh my God! Not the sexy revenge! They'd have no chance!

2:29 PM  
Blogger Farrago said...

Shatterfist beat me to the punch, but I think you should ride with that intent. Wear knee and elbow pads, and when someone does a stupid in front of you, scream, throw yourself onto the hood of their car and roll off into a heap on the ground (preferably NOT in front of the car, just in case they didn't even see THAT performance...or they decide to make the incident a hit-and-run.

2:57 PM  
Blogger Farrago said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:58 PM  
Blogger NYPinTA said...

I've been thinking of getting a bike, then I remember I live in NY.
I'd get hit, and then get the finger as they drove on by. I Heart NY!!

9:12 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"Wear knee and elbow pads, and when someone does a stupid in front of you, scream, throw yourself onto the hood of their car and roll off into a heap on the ground"

Maybe I can do a little imitation of William Shatner's possum character in "Over the Hedge": "Getting darker . . . can't see . . . my life — passing before me . . . the blue light! . . . life ebbing from my body…" and so on.



"I've been thinking of getting a bike, then I remember I live in NY.
I'd get hit, and then get the finger as they drove on by. I Heart NY!!"

No, you'd get the finger after they run you over, back up over you, and then forward once again, this time peeling out.

6:46 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

What a bunch of f*ckheads. There! I said it! As someone who used to road run and cycle, I am VERY careful of the two when I'm driving. My daughter says it's ridiculous how careful I am, but I think it's necessary and the right thing to do.

I once had two little old ladies run me off the road (I was driving a little Nissan truck). The truck fell into a ditch, I looked out to see my attacker, and there were two silver-haired broads giving me the finger, laughing, then driving off. I mean, they were old, possibly on some type of kamikaze mission. The only reaction they got in return was my slack-jawed, wide-eyed stare. =/

10:49 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

I'm sorry, Beth, but that might have been the funniest story I've ever heard!

10:52 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

And the fact that it's 100% true, no exaggeration whatsoever. I remember my husband trying to act concerned and then laughing his head off. I mean, looking back, yeah, it's funny, but at the time ... I was so perplexed. And being raised to respect my elders, I didn't even dare to get a license plate number. Haha.

2:17 PM  

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