Can’t we all just get along (or at least have the decency not to try to kill one another?)
I was driving home the other day (yes, driving; I know, it sucks), and I was within sight of my home when I noticed a familiar truck headed my way.
The street I live on is choked with cars parked on both sides, so sometimes it’s tricky at best, impossible at worst, for two cars to squeeze past. Somebody has to yield.
In this case, we both pulled to the side and motioned the other to go.
After a few seconds of “You go, no you go,” I flashed my lights, and my neighbor drove past.
She’s the nicest person you’ll ever meet. She never has an unkind word about anybody, always smiles, always remembers the kids’ birthdays, seems to enjoy when the neighborhood May basket bandits strike and has been known to respond in kind, with homegrown goodies from her own yard.
Anyway, she drove past and waved. I waved back. We both smiled — and meant it — and as I continued on my merry way, I thought about how I wished every traffic encounter were so enjoyable.
Of course, they’re not.
Case in point: same situation, a couple of days later, one block away. This time, I’m on my bike, and though I recognize the car coming my way as being from my neighborhood, I don’t know the driver, nor do I know
exactly where he lives. I’m already in the bottleneck and have the right of way, but that doesn’t keep him from heading straight for me. As a rule of thumb, I generally don’t get into games of “Chicken” when it’s car vs. bike, so I duck into a driveway to let him pass.
He veers a little in my direction just to let me know who’s the boss, sneers, flips me off and floors it.
I shrugged it off, but found it odd. It’s one thing to be a jerk to a total stranger you might never see again; it’s another to be a jerk to somebody you might see every day for as long as you live in the same ‘hood.
I’ve thought about both instances a bunch lately, ever since an alleged road-rage incident in the county in which a cyclist was hit — apparently intentionally — by a person driving a truck.
I couldn’t begin to count the times I’ve been “buzzed” by drivers coming too close to me. I’ve been yelled and honked at and had stuff thrown at me. Mean-spirited, sure, but I’m not sure any of the lowlifes really meant me any serious harm.
But what was alleged to have happened July 15 goes beyond the bounds of human decency.
I understand frustration on the part of motorists, whether it be directed at cyclists or pedestrians or other drivers.
But to (allegedly) aim a vehicle — in this case, a black, late-model Ford F-150 truck, Kansas disabled license plate, white male driver; please call Crime Stoppers at 843-TIPS if you have any info about this (alleged) cretin — at an essentially defenseless cyclist boggles the mind.
Fortunately, perhaps miraculously, the cyclist wasn’t seriously injured.
And I know several local cyclists are using the event as a chance to consider their own behavior on the road, knowing that “legal” and “right” and “sensible” aren’t necessarily the same thing.
The only other positive I can take away from this incident is that it’s such an uncommon occurrence, it’s easy to become outraged about it.
If we ever start to treat something like that as acceptable, we’re beyond hope.