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Old 08-01-06, 02:11 PM   #1
marcm
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Rude motorists (driver & passenger) trigger self-reflection

The following is just a story I felt like sharing; if you're not interested, move along. I chose this forum because it wasn't part of any regular commute, and because it involved an encounter with a motorist who seemed to be endangering my safety and who thought I belonged on the sidewalk. End of disclaimer.

The other day (Sunday afternoon) I'm riding along a two-lane city/residential road with cars parallel parked on each side. I was riding in the lane and out of the door zone. There's oncoming traffic, and a car approaches me from behind, honking impatiently. I can see not far ahead to the end of the line of parked cars on the right. So I give a "slow/stop" signal to the driver behind me, hoping to indicate that I'll get out of the way asap and please don't pass me unsafely right now.

Just as I'm passing the last parked car and moving out of the lane, the car passes me (close but not threateningly so), but rather than speeding past, the driver slows to my speed with the window rolled down. It's two women, driver and passenger, and they yell something like, "If you want to park, go on the sidewalk, like that guy!" (In retrospect, my slow/stop signal probably made them think I was getting ready to park, rather than communicating "back off", as I had meant.) They wait briefly for my response, but I'm already riding fast and slightly up-hill, hence breathing hard, and I don't feel like responding, so I say nothing, and they hit the gas.

About a minute later, I arrived at my destination, whereupon I locked my bike and took a walk through a trail in the woods, as I had planned. I was going over the incident in my head, thinking "maybe I should have gotten their license-plate number; then I could call the cops and report reckless driving or something". As I was thinking like this, a white bird, something like an albino robin or sparrow, flew up from the ground a few yards in front of me, and landed a bit farther away, in the bushes to the side of the trail ahead of me. Evidently I had startled it, and it was flying away from me.

I took this as a wake-up call, imagined that it was a bird of peace, and that I had scared it because I was (in my mind) anything but peaceful at that moment, and certainly not aware of my surroundings or enjoying what might have been a beautiful walk in the woods. So I reflected, and came to realize that the two women who had yelled at me must have been in a bad mood before I entered their world -- in other words, I did not cause their bad mood, but was merely one of innumerable excuses they were looking for which could help to justify their bad mood. I then felt sorry for them, and wished that whatever was the fundamental cause of their irritation would be healed. I furthermore saw them as not the cause of my irritation, but rather as potentially a wake-up call, a blessing in disguise. Though I'm glad I didn't respond to them rudely, with "f--- you" or something like that, I wished I had responded more compassionately than with a blank stare -- perhaps with a two-finger peace sign, or less ambiguously, "have a nice day".
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Old 08-02-06, 07:19 AM   #2
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Although I think it's important to get in touch with one's anger, not just bury it inside, I agree that letting other people's disquieting attitudes get inside my head and set up camp is a bad idea. When that happens, I try to take control and "evict" the trespassers.
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Old 08-02-06, 07:37 AM   #3
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You definitely took the high road and the one that will give you the most peace of mind, which is what counts most. They were idiots.

In that situation, I usually recommend that they do something which is probably anatomically impossible with a part of their body and the car they are driving, usually in a very loud voice, and then fume about it for the rest of the day.

Lately, I tell them I have every right to be on the road, without screaming, and I have been able to get over it fairly quickly.
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Old 08-02-06, 08:45 AM   #4
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Hey, at least you got to chat with some real women!

I agree the "slow/stop" signal was not appropriate in that situation. I can't think of another signal.

I think there is plenty of emotional growth that can be had on the bicycle. You are open to life's lessons and what God may be saying to you. You are right if you had been in a more enlightened state of mind, you could have countered their bad vibes with good ones and perhaps made their day and yours. There will be a next time.
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Old 08-02-06, 05:00 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marcm
So I reflected, and came to realize that the two women who had yelled at me must have been in a bad mood before I entered their world -- in other words, I did not cause their bad mood, but was merely one of innumerable excuses they were looking for which could help to justify their bad mood. I then felt sorry for them, and wished that whatever was the fundamental cause of their irritation would be healed.
You are a nice person. I wish that they get into a nasty accident and end up as drooling half-vegetables in wheelchairs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by billh
There will be a next time.
Oh yes! The world is so full of a$$holes, you don't have to go searching for them - they come to you...

Anyway, obviously I am not in a very good mood right now. The cagers have been driving me mad lately. I want to do very painful things to them.
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Old 08-03-06, 06:38 AM   #6
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Sometimes there aren't always good times or safe places to spend time discussing the incident with drivers. Plus their view is pretty much they don't make mistakes and we (cyclists) do. Only the cyclists who are drivers give a care pretty much or those that know and love us. You did fine. Better to not comment than to do something stupid like yell or cuss. They will forget it till the next time they are "slowed" down. If people have a problem they can pass in the other lane. I would have done the same thing you did.

Keep Cycling!
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Old 08-03-06, 10:17 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
Although I think it's important to get in touch with one's anger, not just bury it inside, I agree that letting other people's disquieting attitudes get inside my head and set up camp is a bad idea. When that happens, I try to take control and "evict" the trespassers.
I once was a victim of a road rage incident. Driver turning left didn't like the way I was going straight through the intersection. Yep, I was using the thru lane.

Long story short, he comes back around to take some swings at me. With his wife and two kids in the minivan.

Now I wasn't hurt badly. And in the days that followed, I felt like it was my fault. Lots of what ifs like, I shouldn't have exchanged words with him.

A good friend of mine said that the driver was a complete and utter bully. Nothing I did should have provoked that reaction.

Unfortunately, an activity like riding a bike properly, safely, and legally can incite violence. No, it doesn't make any sense, but it did happen. All you can do is realize that the driver and passenger in your case were idiots, bullies, and cannot control their emotions.

Ride on, brother!
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Old 08-03-06, 12:35 PM   #8
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fwiw...here's a good site for a "slow down" moto hand signal:

http://www.ridemyown.com/articles/sa...dsignals.shtml


happy riding!
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Old 08-03-06, 05:56 PM   #9
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Thanks for the stories and encouragement.

I'm reminded of a fascinating article I read about a month ago, which I've reflected on a bit since then, and which may (unconsciously) have influenced my behavior (lack of response) during the road rage incident last weekend. In recent days, it's (consciously) influenced my attitude and behavior on the road and in other areas of life (including on some non-BF online forums):

"What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage" by Amy Sutherland
The New York Times, June 25, 2006
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/25/fa...gewanted=print

Excerpt:
Quote:
I followed the students to SeaWorld San Diego, where a dolphin trainer introduced me to least reinforcing syndrome (L. R. S.). When a dolphin does something wrong, the trainer doesn't respond in any way. He stands still for a few beats, careful not to look at the dolphin, and then returns to work. The idea is that any response, positive or negative, fuels a behavior. If a behavior provokes no response, it typically dies away.
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