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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Dose of Stupid on a Monday Morning

As a cyclist who shares the roadways with motorists, it's expected that I will have to deal with a fairly hefty amount of stupid on a day-to-day basis.  One of my favorite maneuvers is when a motorist speeds dangerously around a cyclist just before an intersection, swerves back into the right lane, cutting off the cyclist, and then slams on the brakes because the light is red.  In fact, I told Ginger just a couple of weeks ago that if I were to go a full day with this particular situation having NOT happened, it would be remarkably out of the ordinary.

But what happened to me yesterday morning was so astonishingly weird that I still can't believe it actually happened.  I was on the Mizzou campus, heading east on Rollins to get to work.  It's spring break here, so there were very few students on campus - especially at 8am - and I was kind of lulled into a calm inward distraction.  And so here I was, not paying attention to much of anything, when a man stepped out into the pedestrian crosswalk in front of me.  He appeared to be paying even less attention to what he was doing than I was.  I leaned to the right, thinking that I would slide behind him, and that was when he saw me, startled, and began doing a little do-I-go-or-do-I-stop dance directly in front of me.  Closing the gap quickly, I cut hard to my left and sped through the crosswalk right in front of him.

As I rode by, he called me an asshole.  And considering I had failed to yield to a pedestrian, I'd say the profanity was not only justified, but fairly appropriate for the situation.  But this is where things get weird...he also tried to strike me.  I'm not sure whether it was meant to be a shove or a slap - you read that right folks, a slap - but it was ill-timed and his hand glanced harmlessly off my computer bag.  Now if he had just yelled at me, I would've let it go, but there was no way I could abide a slap, no matter how harmless it had been.  So I turned around and caught up with him before he could hurriedly duck into the Life Science Center - that's right, he tried to slap me and then rushed away when he saw me turning around - and a brief argument ensued.

I should note here that I have no idea who this guy was.  He was overweight and old enough to have a healthy amount of grey in his beard, so I'm not sure if he was faculty, staff, or a non-traditional student.  My best guess is that he was a primate research subject, but that's just conjecture.  Anyways, I was quite angry and did a very poor job of making my case, as the man was able to keep the argument focused squarely on who was at fault for a non-existent collision.  Instead the subject really should have been whether or not he had the right to hit me.  I'm no lawyer, but I would venture that I probably had every right to hit him back.  But I was determined not to escalate the situation - even though he had already done so when he tried to slap me.  Instead, I apologized for not paying attention, told him to never touch me again and that the whole situation could've easily been avoided if he had been paying more attention as well.  He just kept trying to tell me how a pedestrian crosswalk worked.

In the end, I'm pretty sure he walked away still thinking that he had done absolutely nothing wrong.  And that's what really irks me about the whole thing.  Looking back, I probably shouldn't have apologized and instead I should have immediately gotten to the heart of the matter, which was this:

Keep your hands to yourself, you fat fucking moron.

4 comments:

  1. Oh, the confused pedestrian! They're no fun. I usually try and mitigate the problem by slowing down so much that I can stop if they decide to walk out in front of me, but that kind of sucks, especially if you have a good momentum going. However! I've never crashed into anyone, and I really don't want to, considering it would probably knock me off my bike.

    The worst pedestrian experience I've had so far was 2 women with 2 strollers who pushed their strollers into the bike lane RIGHT in front of me. They did this, and then also had to wait for traffic. There was a big curb, so I couldn't go around them either way. I KNOW they saw me (I have gone nuts with a lime green safety vest and blinking lights), and they just did it anyway. I braked very hard (thank goodness I've practiced emergency braking procedures) and came screeching to a stop inches from one of the strollers.

    Yeah, they called me a bitch. Sigh.

    Oh well. Totally worth it to commute by bike. 90% great days, 9% meh, 1% awful.

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  2. If we as cyclists truly "are traffic" as they say we are. What makes it ok to walk out in front of a bike as opposed to a car or truck?
    I practiced panic stops often when I rode motorcycles. And on at least one occasion it saved me from serious injury or death. But it has never occurred to me to practice the same on my bicycle. Thanks for the "eye opener"
    Cheers

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  3. After reading your Blog to my sister, Priscilla, we want to know if you feel better now?

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    1. Heh. I was a little upset about the whole incident the day that it happened. But I waited until the next morning to write this post. By then, I considered the whole situation to be somewhat head-shakingly amusing. So yes, I do feel better now...but I never felt all that bad to begin with.

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