After reading some of the news stories for the last few weeks, my confrontation yesterday isn't sitting well.
Scenario: I rode on the road for 50-odd miles and took lanes, crossed intersections, generally interacted with hundreds of vehicles and it all went smoothly as normal. I act like they expect, I signal clearly and I get out of the way ASAP, and by showing respect, I generally get it back from drivers. For the last three miles home, I take an MUP. It dumps me three blocks from home, but one of those blocks is a six-way intersection. I am going through the middle straight-only lane, with a left-only to my left and a right-only to my right. After getting through the intersection I am bearing right through space TOTALLY unused by cars during this part of the light cycle, which leaves a lane and a half (the half lane is the bulk of this unused space) open for cars to pass me to get anywhere in the intersection they need to be. Never had any trouble at this intersection really...it's fairly obvious what I am doing, and that all drivers can get around me. Also, I always, without exception, catch the red light. The intervals are short due to the six roads coming together, and I have never, ever caught the green.
SO...I roll up the small hill in the center lane to the red. I start going slowly hoping to *maybe* not have to take my feet off the pedals. There are about four car lengths between me and the cars stopped at the light. I am dead center of the lane, rolling at about 5-6mph? All of a sudden a small, older blue pickup goes flying around me at 25-30mph, engine redlining to get the speed he needed. He left-hooks me and cuts in front of me then has to brake hard to avoid hitting the car in front of him.
To get to a red light.
I start laughing. Like, really laughing out loud and shaking my head. Well, apparently this enraged the driver, who proceeded to roll down his window and yell at me. In retrospect this was my mistake. I never should have reacted at all.
"F--- you man you're f---ing riding right in the middle of traffic, dumba--."
"I'm allowed to be here. I'm going straight. Where the hell else am I supposed to be?"
"F---ing a--hole, you can't just be all slow in traffic. Next time I'll..."
"HEY! It's the law, a--hole. Do I need to call a cop because you're threatening me?" At this point I reach into my jersey pocket for my cell phone.
Oh, did I mention that the light turned green? And Mister "You're blocking traffic" was pacing me slowly on my right, preventing me from getting out of the lane of cars behind me? He was BLOCKING THE #@$!ing TRAFFIC so he could continue to yell at me. Which amazed me, as that was his entire complaint to begin with. Other cars had to pull out around him *and* me on both sides of us to get through. The cycle of the light is 45 seconds, then almost four minutes of waiting, so they were trying to get through before they got caught again. I don't blame them.
He continues. "F--- you you little f--got. I'll f---ing..." Every time he started a threat I cut him off. Partially because I don't let anyone treat me like that in person. I'm not all that skilled at fighting, and I have lost way more than I've won in my lifetime - and I haven't been in a phyical confrontation in more than 15 years - but I will be damned if I let some pice of crap think I am the doormat that apparently the rest of the people in his life are. Bullys and me? We don't mix. At all.
I also cut him off partially because if the threat isn't actually articulated, psychologically the situation hasn't escalated beyond repair yet. This dickweed didn't realize I was trying to do him a favor...so intent was he on teaching a "f--got" a lesson about his road, apparently.
I cut him off with, if I may say so myself, is my fairly loud, large, intimidating-when-I-put-it-on professional announcer voice. I'm short, but I used to be in radio and voiceovers and I have a big, big mouth!
"HEY PAY ATTENTION. I SAID DO I NEED TO CALL THE COPS? I'M LEGALLY IN THE ROAD AND BESIDES THE LIGHT WAS F---ING RED. DO. I. NEED. TO. CALL. THE. F---ING. COPS?"
He said something else, all I caught of it was the repeat of "f--got." What is that? Why do drivers default to that insult? Gay men never really wore bike kit as fashion except in the frigging movies...the two are, in all actuality, unrelated. Why does bike kit = gay? Not that it would matter one whit if I was gay...Mr. Tolerance shouldn't be tossing bigot crap off over a completely insignificant traffic incident anyway, especially since he was 100% wrong. I just don't get it. I mean, I know Ricky from My So-Called Life once wistfully sighed and said "I wish I could pull off bike shorts" but come on, what are the odds that this road-rage-y jerk watch My So-Called Life?
So anyway...I simply repeated, as loudly as possible so as to attract the attention of every ear around with an open window "DO I NEED TO CALL THE COPS? DO I NEED TO DIAL 911?" This entire exchange lasted maybe 50 seconds...I know because the traffic opposite us began to move, which means the light had cycled and they now had the green. After this he just pulled his head back in and floored it away. I kept my phone out when I saw his brake lights at the corner of my street, but he was just stopping to LET A CAR CROSS THE ROAD.
So clearly it was just the sight of a bike that did it.
Odd little tag to the story: 30 seconds later as I approach my own block (a left turn for me, with oncoming traffic) I signal my intent to turn. A car was flying down the street at maybe 45 (this street is a huge, unbroken straight, and it may be residential but people drive like bats out of hell) was coming. I intended to stop and wait, but he slowed down, came to a total stop and waved me on. I waved a thanks and rolled home.
Nothing dangerous happened, and I didn't get the guy's plate number so I couldn't even report him for the threats in order to get his name in the system. My third major mistake of the encounter, I guess. The second was I swore...I know better than to antagonize jerkoffs like that, but I swear like a sailor on the best of days, so....I guess I just posted this to vent. And because in retrospect I realized he could be one of the crazies that we keep reading about, and the whole incident shook me a little. I'm still pretty damn new to taking the lane.