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What do you say? Part I
I’m not the quickest of wits, and while I have a fondness for words, I sometimes find myself at a loss for them.
Such was the case on two recent rides, coincidentally about two blocks — but several months — apart.
In the first, I was riding home one evening, well before sunset. Pedalling along, I saw a car waiting to turn left onto the street I was on, heading in the same direction, from a commercial driveway. I saw the driver take a quick look to his left (away from me) and, seeing a car approaching, accelerated to turn in front of me. Had I not been paying attention (since he clearly wasn’t), it’s quite likely I would have been hit.
But I knew what was unfolding and slowed enough to avoid a collision. Still, I shrugged my shoulders toward the eyes in the rear-view mirror, just to let their owner know of my presence.
Less than a block away, I rolled to a stop next to the car and saw the passenger window going down.
Ready to stand my ground and open a can of cyclist justice on the miscreant (in other words, I was preparing to drop the bike, squeal like a little girl and run for my life), I clipped out of my pedals and turned toward what I was sure to be a lecture about how I didn’t belong on the road and how I should pay more taxes to get to use the roads and get a job and yadayadayada.
I was surprised when the driver instead leaned over the passenger seat and said, “I’m awfully sorry. I didn’t mean to pull in front of you. I just didn’t see you.”
Several responses flitted through my pea brain, none of which was especially gracious.
I finally settled on, “Well, I think I was plenty visible, but thanks for apologizing.”
The driver gave a friendly wave and, as the light changed, pulled away.
My knee-jerk response was, “Oh, it’s OK,” but I didn’t, and I’m glad, because had I been hit, it certainly would not have been OK. I’m glad the driver felt bad. I watched, and he never looked to his right. I’m sure he was counting on peripheral vision to alert him to the presence of an oncoming vehicle, and my smaller form didn’t register. Thus, he really didn’t see me. Thing is, he never looked.
Then again, I was aware of what was happening and in control of the situation. I made sure I was never really in danger, and there was no real reason to tear into the guy. I spoke my (tiny) mind, pointed out his error and acknowledged his humanity.
He screwed up and knew it. I acknowledged both. End of story.
Then, just a week ago right around the corner, I had another at-a-loss-for-words run-in that ended not quite so painlessly. But that story will have to wait for my next blog …