The Other Side of the Coin

December 5th, 2012

Any biker knows that for every conscientious, considerate driver, there are about one hundred self-important motherfuckers who’d sooner run you down than use their blinker properly.

I met one last night on the way back from a friend’s house at about 8pm. I was taking a left from Cedar St. on to Broadway when  I was almost swerved into by a big black SUV (Grimlocke makes the shocker gesture here). I quickly saw why – the bleached blonde behind the wheel was holding her phone up in front of her face in the middle of her view, reading and driving at the same time. Since her windows were open, I obviously gave her some much needed driving instruction,

“PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY!”

She retorted with a string of profanity that ended with threats of physical violence, and then she pulled over and exited her vehicle with a demand for me to, “Git off your bike!”. I did as requested.

She got about 1″ away from my face and began asking who I thought I was and what I was talking about, and when I reiterated that she should not be driving while texting, or reading texts, she claimed that she hadn’t been doing so. The next couple of minutes went a little like this:

Grim: You shouldn’t be looking at your phone while driving.

Bitch: I wasn’t looking at my phone!

Grim: Look, you and I are the only people here, and we wouldn’t be having this conversation if you hadn’t almost hit me because you were looking at your phone, so lying about it isn’t really going to help your argument.

Bitch: I wasn’t looking at my phone!

{{repeat}}

Once she realized that I wasn’t buying the lie, she took a different tangent,

“My phone is ALWAYS in my hand! I drive like that! Do you ALWAYS have both your hands on your handlebars?”

Grim, “Yes!”

Bitch, “But I saw you take your hand off to signal!”

Grim, “BECAUSE IT’S REQUIRED BY LAW, GENIUS!”

In response to my insult on her intelligence, she responded with, “YOU are the one wearing a HELMET!”

Grim, ” ಠ_ಠ

After I was done boggling at her, I restated that I just wanted her to be more careful, and that if she kept looking at her phone while driving, she was likely to end up murdering someone. She then pointed to her license plate and indicated what she called the ‘thin blue line’. (I didn’t see what she was talking about, and said so.) She told me to go home and Google the ‘thin blue line’ and then I’d know who I was dealing with and what trouble I was getting into, because she was ‘local’, she claimed, and she was ‘connected’. I nodded sagely and continued to not have a clue what she was talking about.

At this point I was able to really take a look at her, and I realized that she was standing there cussing me out, all 5’1″ of her, in a baby pink sweat suit with a giant red rhinestone heart on the belly and a pair of fuzzy leopard Uggs. I couldn’t resist. I took out my phone and said, backing up,

“Can I take your picture? This is just too hilarious.”

As I brought the phone up to my face, she flipped out and started screaming that it was illegal to take her picture, to which I responded that it was perfectly legal and continued to try to focus on her. Then she flew at me with claws out.

I backed away some more, but she started clawing my face with one hand and yanking my phone with the other, so I did the only thing I could think of at the time. I headbutted her in the face with my helmet.

The look on her face was more fulfilling than a thousand beautiful sunsets.

She said something along the lines of ‘Don’t DO that!’ and came at me again as I continued to back up. Apparently having not learned the first time, she clawed at me again and received another headbutt to the face. That’s when the cops showed up.

The police were calm and respectful, and listened to her blatant and flagrant lies without much interest. They took her info and mine and gave us the ‘you may press charges of assault against each other if you so choose’ spiel. I thanked them and moved on. She was detained a bit because the address she gave them didn’t match that which was on her license. Sweet, sweet schadenfreude.

I walked my bike away a bit and got back on Broadway heading west. She caught up to me in the middle of the bridge over the railroad tracks and, spitting unintelligible profanities through the open window, tried to run me off the road. I was able to hook sharply up onto the curb, but I was jolted off my bike and had the wind knocked out of me. She sped away down Boston Avenue, cackling.

Shaking and crying at this point, I called 911. I let them know I wasn’t hurt and not to send an ambulance, but I requested the officers that we’d just spoken to. I was transferred between departments three times. I gave them my name and phone number, and they told  me to wait there.

I waited at the intersection of Boston and Broadway for 20 minutes before realizing that no-one was coming. As my house was only a block away, I figured that if they really were interested in my situation, they could call and I could come out to meet them. Nobody called.

I’m fine, my bike is fine, but my faith in the justice system and the decency of motorist-kind are irrevocably damaged to an extreme degree. And this was just another day on the street.

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5 Responses to “The Other Side of the Coin”

  1. mtalinm Says:

    I have to admit bewilderment at the number of collisions and close calls you report on this blog. I’ve ridden six or seven thousand miles in the past few years (much of those urban) and have had only two close calls. I assume you’re well lit and a defensive cyclists, but it seems remarkable how many run-ins you seem to have had. stay safe

  2. Grimlocke Von Hecht Says:

    Maybe it’s just that I’m unlucky? Maybe you, or another biker like you, would have just swerved out of the way of this idiot when she almost hit you during her texting spree, and left it at that. Does that sound more like it? I am VERY vocal about letting people know when they are endangering me, and I desperately wish other cyclists were, as well. Maybe a few people would be alive today if more cyclists were proactive about their safety.

  3. Aaaron Pik Says:

    You may be right about being vocal, and I spent several years yelling at drivers about using signals, not crushing me, etc., holding the same belief that they wouldn’t learn unless I pointed it out to them.

    I’ve taken a different tack for the past few years: politely making suggestions about how someone could drive differently to make it safer for bikes. I’ve found it to be more effective. Plus, I’m less stressed and less angry.

    Sure, plenty of people tell me to fuck off, but they weren’t going to be convinced by yelling, either. And, the people who are truly ignorant/unaware aren’t put off by being berated, and maybe they make a change. You can be 100% right, but most people won’t hear you if you get their defenses up.

    I think I’ve run into you a few times during commutes–I’m the guy who is late to work if he sees you–and you’ve seemed very friendly to me. My suggestion, after ten years of commuting by bike in Boston, is to try the friendly approach.

  4. Grimlocke Von Hecht Says:

    Looks like you’ve been on time lately, congrats! (Either that or I’ve been really late, whoops.) I can be pretty nice, and believe it or not, I try to make an effort to smile at everyone I see on the street, while being courteous, so that they have a positive mini anecdote about bikers to take away from their commute. The times when I’m NOT nice are the times when I’ve just narrowly missed being run over. Even then, sometimes the person realizes what they’ve done and apologize. I’ve had a guy in a very expensive car chase me, while I was screaming obscenities at him, just to catch up with me at a light and apologize. I ended up leaning into his window to clasp his and and apologize for yelling at him. That was a good day. Otherwise, I really think that the people who endanger us need to be alerted that they’re doing so, no matter how they react to it. I’m not usually super abrasive at first, just firm, and often I’ll say, “Too Close!”, or “You’re Endangering Me By Parking Here!”. I can only hope it gives them pause next time they try to do that thing.

  5. Aaaron Pik Says:

    I’m actually late as ever. My work moved to a new office and I now commute along the river instead of going through Allston. This has also contributed to my more relaxed biking of late.

    I used to get really annoyed because I saw drivers valuing their convenience (or the costs of minimal efforts) above my safety. There is truth that my safety is more valuable, but the fundamental problem is that my annoyance was predicated on the idea that people were performing that evaluation in the first place. the reality is that my safety wasn’t even part of the equation. Now I realize that most people aren’t assholes (per se), they’re just not thinking about the whole picture.

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