Saturday, November 7, 2009

laying it out

Dear driver of a white pickup truck by Legacy Emanuel,

Around this time of year, it becomes dark. And rainy. And gloomy. No one is really that happy about it, honestly, and it's quite within reason that people have shorter tempers than usual. That being said, though, a short temper--or whatever it is that was afflicting you this afternoon--is no reason to run down a relatively soft-shelled, smooshable biker with your giant metal deathmobile.

Let me back up. Of course it's within reason that you didn't see the first biker. I don't know if he had a light on; you may have been looking the other direction; there are myriad legitimate and plausible reasons for nearly hitting him--not that any of those reasons would have excused you had you actually hit him, but I'm just trying to see things from your perspective here. However, even when I put on the most charitable mindset I can muster, I can conceive of absolutely no reason why, having nearly avoided hitting him as you pulled out, you would stop, then immediately continue to pull out into me, not 5 feet behind him, as my super-bright flashing headlight beamed its way into your window.

Really? Were you so annoyed at him that you felt the need to take out your anger on me? Were you in that much of a hurry? Were you expecting me to slide to the ground and pull off a James-Bond-style maneuver to spin under your truck and pop back out the other side?

Again, sir, I understand that you may have been annoyed that someone else made you stop, even if he had the right of way on the road. I can understand your annoyance if he had no light on and you didn't see him. I can even understand being annoyed at something completely unrelated. But what I don't understand is what you though you would accomplish by forcing me to come to a skidding, sideways stop as you pulled out in front of me, knowing full well I was there. I'm not squeamish. I was on my way to give blood. I'd rather, however, give it on my own terms, with a hygienic needle, than have it splattered unawares across the hood of your car.

This letter doesn't only have to be to you, of course. It's to anyone on the road, driver, cyclist, or, since most people don't do one exclusively, both. We need to be patient here. I'm biking as defensively as I can, wearing lights as brightly as I can, looking out for the rest of you on the road. I've slowed down to accommodate my wet, sluggish stopping speed. But even with all those precautions, I don't necessarily have the reflexes to avoid you in the slippery leaf soup that covers the ground right now. I know we all make mistakes--but those mistakes can usually end up being okay in the end if we're all careful and respectful. But if you're consciously being a jackass, I don't know what I'm going to do.

I'd like to think that you would feel bad later if you actually did hit me in whatever foul temper you were in. I hope that's the case; I hope you realize that's the case and change your behavior in the future. Please be careful out there.


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