Well, so much for Weight Watchers. I tried! I really did! Almost every day this week, I was under my point count. The only two days I “violated” it was this past Saturday and Sunday.
This will teach me to stick to Weight Watchers no matter what.
At least I’m still going strong on the no-wine front. Two weeks down, and this time, I rewarded myself with the newly-released second book in Brandon Sanderson’s sure-to-be-amazing epic fantasy series, The Stormlight Archive. I cannot rave enough about Brandon Sanderson. I stumbled across him when I was on my cruise around Cape Horn; I checked out his YA novel, The Rithmatist, from the ship’s library, and I still maintain it is one of the most creative and ingenious books I have ever read.
I am now – according to GoodReads – 67% of the way through the first book in The Stormlight Archive, The Way of Kings, and Brandon Sanderson is quickly shaping up to be one of my all-time favorite authors. He is definitely one of the top 5 epic fantasy authors… at least in my world, and I am now stuck in every reader’s conundrum: when I finally make it through all 1,000+ pages of this tome, do I immediately dive into Book 2? Now that I own it? Or do I take a break and read Endurance – the historic work I bought last week?
Anyway, first world problems aside, I also added a new row to my Pointless Table – the amount of time I am spending each week with my bestest buddy, Artemis. This past week was a little low because I took some time off work, and I had to drive to work one day… but I was still out there pedalin’ and it was some experiences I had last week that prompted my ravings today.
As I have said time and time and time again, I love my bike. I love being on my bike. I miss Artemis like you miss a best friend when I go for several days without being on my bike. It is almost a sickness, I’m sure. But even with that deep-down, soul-defining love I have for being on a bike, there are always, you know, problems. Not in the relationship with the bike per se, but in the relationship with other people on the road.
So here comes Bicycle Bitchin’s #1: Rude Drivers!!!
Yes, my fellow cyclists, I know we all know these guys: – the tool in the fancy sports car that pulls up right behind a bicyclist and then slams down on their horn; the self-centered butt monkey that cuts right in front of a bicyclist, or pushes them off the road and into the ditch, or blocks their access to a driveway or turning lane; the deluded dog’s flea that thinks it’s funny to hoot and holler and catcall a bicyclist and try to distract them while they navigate their way around the dangerous minefield that is Los Angeles. Yep. I have had experience with all of the above.
Before I launch into the particular experiences I had this last week – with drivers that like to cut bicyclists off – I want to preface by saying that I am not exonerating bicyclists in these rantings. We, as a body, tend to be just as rude and deluded as our driver companions. In fact, just this morning, I was bicycling behind a fellow cyclist who decided to run a red light and weave his way through the cross-traffic to reach the other side of the intersection. Luckily, there wasn’t an accident, but I drew in a sharp breath anyway. Rude drivers are not the only ones at fault when it comes to bicycle / vehicle relationships. We all can give a little.
Anyway, drivers can still be rude too. And for some reason, this past week, I was repeatedly faced with Rude Driver # 2 that I listed above – the butt monkey that likes to cut off the bicyclist. Take this scenario: here I am, on Artemis, pedaling along on the right side of the road, and traffic is flowing steadily by me to my left. Suddenly, a Rude Driver decides he needs to pull over. What does he do? Presses down on his gas pedal to shoot past me, pulls right in front of me, and then slams on his brakes. This causes me to have one of two reactions: a slam on my own brakes, which can cause me to pitch over my handlebars if I’m going fast enough (hardly an issue with me, but still!), or a swerve to the left and into the lane of traffic.
After unleashing a steady stream of curses under my breath at said Rude Driver, I ask myself: why did he need to pull IN FRONT of me?? Why couldn’t the son of a b—h slow down, pull over to the right BEHIND me, and then come to a stop? The Rude Driver doesn’t need to play the whiplash game by shooting forward and them slamming on his brakes. He doesn’t need to cause me to slam on my brakes and possibly play a head bouncing game with the pavement. But for whatever reason, this courtesy seems lost on most of the drivers I encountered this past week.
Now again, I feel necessary to clarify that I am referring to drivers who literally cut me off. I have encountered plenty of situations where a driver several car lengths ahead of me pulls off to the side in front of me. And those always work out fine. I have time to slow down or to merge with the traffic to my left in those cases. And I don’t consider that rude at all; I am not a queen on the road. Not everyone has to wait for me to pedal by at my whopping 6mph. But man, if you see me in front of you, why can’t you pull over behind me? Why do you have to fly forward to pull over in front of me? That, I don’t understand.
And I experienced this quite a bit this past week with city buses. Now, buses are their own beast when it comes to being a cyclist. Besides being loud, and hot, and big with lots of blind spots, they also stop on every stinking block. I can live with that though. And I try to work my bicycling speed around them when I find myself on the road with a bus. Otherwise, it’s a constant game of catch-up and pass-up. The bus catches up to me and passes me up. I catch up to the bus at the next stop and pass it up. Back and forth. Back and forth. So I tend to slow down and try to keep behind the bus. I have seen that even with all the stopping, if I let the bus get in front of me, the bus will eventually become a distant speck on the far horizon. It is ultimately going faster than I am, so it will leave me in its exhaust-clouded wake.
There are situations though when the bus comes up behind me. And this is where I get frustrated: if you’re coming up behind me, and we’re both approaching a stop (which we always are since they stop so frequently), why can’t you just trail behind me those few extra feet and then pull over? After you have done your bus stop thing, then you can pass me up on the road and pull over at the next stop when I’m a good distance behind you. And then, I can slow down properly and wait for you to move on.
But sheesh. This past week, I had who knows how many buses do that Rude Driver thing – go shooting past me so they could pull over in front of me. Since they cut me off, I went around them because I wasn’t going to sit behind them and wait for them to load and unload passengers. Plus, they cut me off so close, I was literally sitting in the face of their exhaust pipe. That noxious gas buses belch out is freakin’ hot! If I had had time to slow down and stop appropriately, I would be far enough behind the bus not to sit in my own pollutant-infested sauna. But noooo. They had to cut me off. Which started the catch-up / pass-up game, only with these drivers, it was the catch-up / cut-off game. And I kept thinking, you know, if you would just pull up at this stop BEHIND me, that would give me enough time to get far enough ahead of you so that when you leave, you can pass me safely. Then you can pull over in front of me like a thoughtful and courteous driver instead of constantly gunning it so you can cut me off. And I can slow down and wait for you so you can stay in front of me… and before you know it, I won’t even be in your rearview mirror anymore.
But there is one thing I have noticed: common courtesy, especially on the road, is not very common anymore. And that is why I am determined not to cave into rudeness. I will continue to be a courteous bicyclist and a courteous driver because I know how much it irritates me when people are rude to me. And I know how nice it feels when I actually encounter a thoughtful driver – one who lets me get in front of them or slows down and lets me cross a busy intersection that doesn’t have a four-way stop – so I’m determined to keep being nice myself. I will slow down for cyclists; I will let them cross busy intersections; I will not cut them off or honk at them or cat call them … even when they are rude themselves.
I am determined to make this world a nicer place, damnit! I just might complain a lot in the process too.