Christmas Eve was a day spent catching up on some much needed errands and last minute shopping. (Buying a house around the holidays is not the best move while trying to start and keep a regular blog) So I organized the entire day around completing my tasks on the bike.
Atlanta is quite cold these days so to prepare I wore my long sleeve wool jersey in addition to a base layer and arm warmers, casual action slacks, rounded out with an oversized bike bag. With my route mapped out to the point where a beer capped the final stop, I set out for some adventure.
The first destination of what will be a total of 5, distance about 15 to 18 miles round trip, was to gather up some final touches for a Christmas dinner, which was also the place that I unfortunately encountered a virulent pessimist.
Other than my smuggish pride I was unarmed, but make no mistake, whether intentionally or unintentionally I was attacked. A sneak attack from a pessimist almost always originates from behind, and they know cyclists can’t see them coming, even with bike mirrors, which in my opinion can be more dangerous using them than not. Mostly it’s what is in front of you that is important.
Before we get into the encounter let’s make one thing clear, but it’s already obvious, this retelling is of course my perspective of the events that transpired, right or wrong unfortunately can be a pointless exercise in these circumstances. Sometimes surviving to talk about it is the only kind of good that can come from what happened. Perspective is a hell of a thing.
Here goes: leaving the store, travelling up the hill to the stop sign, the pessimist pulls in front me, not 5 feet from the sign, forcing me to react by braking and putting enough fear in me to uncontrollably yell “What the fuck!” Being a “vehicle “ by law in the state of GA, I could very easily say this maneuver was indeed illegal. Worse yet, the pessimist was also looking at her cell phone, more than likely trying to recruit another damned soul into the hive mind.
Leveling out on the road, I see the pessimist drive out roughly a mile before coming to a stop light, green she's off and then pulls over to the curb.
As I ride closer, the car remains curbed; I now begin to process the moment. What if I am able to reach her car in time? What do I say? What’s my angle? Foam at the mouth? Spray her with my water bottle? Use the kimber pepper blaster? (diabolical) Am I being unreasonable on Christmas Eve? No. She took a chance with my life when all she had to do was wait a couple of seconds longer for me to pass through the stop sign. I decide to collect some empirical data.
I hit the red light, I am clearing my thoughts for the moment, she idles. Green I roll. I pull up to the car, she is still playing with her squeezebox blackberry. I knock on the window, she looks shocked at first, then a moment of familiarity washes over her face and rolls down the window. As soon as the window cracks, she is in mid tirade- about me.
Pessimist: “You crazy cyclist. I saw you run the stop sign. I was watching you. You ran that sign. You’re a menace to the road. What the hell is wrong with you…”
Me: Ma’am (really) I was near that stop sign when you cut me off. By the laws of the state of GA, I am a vehicle, you put my life in jeopardy, and you broke a law. What's worse is that you would not have done that if I was in a car.
Pessimist: “I did not break any law! I saw you run that stop sign and you just ran that red light.”
I was not expecting this. What proceeded resembled the wailing of two cats facing off under the same car- the sound of confusion.
Me: Ma'am, you are making this up. Why are you making this up?
Pessimist: "I am not making any of this up. This is a case of he said she said".
Who's court is she arguing for? Crazy? Craven? Afraid to be wrong? A carnal craving to be right.
At times we all choose to lose but some of us are better at pretending that we don't care.
Me: (getting irrational now) I am going to take a picture of your license plate and send it to the police. (they would just laugh)
Pessimist: "And I am going to follow you home!"
Me: My name is (chickypanther). Here's my zipcode and the neighborhood I live in. Google that on your crackberry.
I actually give her my hand to shake, she shook it.
Little did she know I have succeed in using at least 4 of the techniques from Arthur Schopenhauer's "The Art of Always Being Right". Of the 38 ways, # 21 is my finishing blow: "When your opponent uses an argument that is superficial and you see the falsehood, you can refute it by setting forth its superficial character."
No end in sight, as it generally turns into a call and response curse off, I interrupt her and drop #21, but I make it so to stick later on:
Me: You lack style and you're paranoid.
Pessimist: (moments of confusion, perhaps a quiet self admittance) "And you're pathological. Merry Christmas!"
Maybe I am pathological to ride my bike in Atlanta on Christmas Eve. That beer was good.