February 2, 2010
Today on the way to work I had a run in with a driver, well not so much a run in since I have no idea if we ever actually interacted in any physical space sense on our respective commutes. However as the driver passed me going the same direction as I, two lanes over, he felt the need to honk and flip me off.
I had just completed a left hand turn utilizing a green turning arrow and it's my guess that he was waiting at the same stop light going the direction that I was now headed. It is possible that he was a few cars back behind me in the turning lane, but I never saw him and it's just pure conjecture on my part whether or not my presence actually hindered him in any real or imagined way.
What I'm getting at is that for no apparent reason this dude in his SUV felt the need to both honk and flip me off. The reason for this post was because this got me irritated and thinking. It's hard to not react when things like this happen. However as any daily cyclist knows this sort of thing happens all the time and if you get upset everytime a driver disrespects you you'll spend far too many days in a foul mood. As with many things, the best revenge is utter dismissal and pity for such a sad sack. (smugness is the cyclist's primary weapon)
Anyhoo, this incident got me thinking about people and human nature, and I figured I'd write a post about something that we all experience in our day to day lives: the incredibly de-humanizing effect cars have. When driving a vehicle for utility and not pleasure (road trips) I pretty much hate everything. I hate stupid fucking drivers, I hate pedestrians, and try as I might to hold it back, I hate cyclists.
Being a cyclist myself I always give other riders plenty of room and slow way down, but I'd be lying to you if I told you I didn't find people on bikes annoying. (stop swerving all over the place and obey the laws, jackass) Of course you won't find me yelling at cyclists, because when I'm on the bike I also take great pride in throwing a middle finger to traffic laws. I'm not saying I ride recklessly or carelessly or without concern for both my saftey and the safety of motorists and fellow riders alike. On the contrary, my goal is to keep myself and others as safe as possible, it's just that I refuse to conform to a set of traffic laws that were not designed with bikes in mind, and in my opinion rigid adherence to those traffic laws takes much of the joy out of my preferred method of conveyance. You bet your ass I'm rolling stop signs when there is no traffic coming and I'm running reds when it's clear. What's a good plate with nothing on it, what's a bike without freedom?
The point I'm trying to get at is that it's really hard not to take attacks by motorists personal, until you realize that the very pscyhology of driving in our culture inherently makes people hate everything. They hate other cars just as much as they hate bikes, other people are merely obstacles in their path. Drivers are dicks, period. It's a unique bit of business that occurs when someone gets behind the wheel. Super chill bros turn into maniacs, the timid suddenly become brazen, etc. etc. The car becomes a several thousand pound extension of the worst characteristics of the driver, I don't know why it happens but it does.
The only way I've found to combat these assholes and leave it all on the field is to give them a smile and a wave and a "hey thanks", it seems to be much more effective than returning fire with a "fuck you" and a middle finger. Leave them puzzled, leave them guessing, leave them wondering why they're such assholes and you're not.