Coming up Overland on approach to Venice Boulevard I’m in the door zone trying to thread the narrow channel between the parked car and those stacked back from the light in the No. 2 lane. I pull alongside a small blue SUV that decides to go right without looking and I’m just barely able to get ahead of its closing quarter panel which seems intent on smushing me into the parked car on my right.
The kicker is I don’t cuss. I didn’t spew. I don’t gesticulate. I don’t nothing. This is the thousandth time that’s happened and it’s just a fact of my bike life and I just got going ready to forget about it, but a few cranks forward and the stupid little toy car’s stupid little toy horn meeeeeeeeeeeps! prolonged and adamantly against my back and so I sigh and look over my shoulder to find the scowling driver offering me up both hands in an exasperated “WTF Jackass!?” position.
So that’s it: I’ve been engaged. Set foul mouth to stun. I was sooooooo close to letting bygones be, but this indignant muzzafuzza can’t let it go and so I come to a complete stop in the middle of the right turn pocket, looking longingly at Venice a few feet away thinking of the onshore flow coming up from the sea along the boulevard that would push me gently inland.
The idiot honks again and Venice might as well have been a mile away as I rotate the bike counterclockwise and tromp with it back along the putt-putt’s driver side where the operater rolls down the window and before he can say something regrettable I bellow “So what shall we do about this now, huh?” which takes him a bit by surprise enough to make him lose whatever statement he’d been thinking of making; so instead he just calls me an asshole.
I kicked myself for failing to carry my collapsable whiteboard in my backpack which assembles in seconds and would’ve allowed me to diagram and illustrate and flow chart why in fact he was the asshole, so instead I just winced and barked out a laugh because I always find it painfully funny how people almost hit me because of a variety of their failures — in this case a laziness to utilize basic driver’s training procedure of Look The Hell Around — yet I’m the jerk. Always — and of course, even moreso when I don’t just drop into some sort of “I’m not worthy” supplication at the sound of a hostile horn no matter how stupid and toy-like it sounds.
So I told him, “I can’t help it if I’m a product of your environment.”
To which he said somewhat stupidly “Yeah, you are!” as if that meant something and looked knowingly at his male passenger in the seat beside him and a woman in the back seat who are both a bit wide-eyed and nervous.
And to which I snorted and retorted, “I spend too much of my biking life inches away from being injured or killed by assholes like you so some of the shit can’t help but rub off.”
At that he just blinked and for a brief and glorious nanomoment there seemed a flicker of enlightment that indeed he might be the problem. But it was gone before it had a real chance to appear and instead he waved his hand and made a dismissive sound like “Agh!” as he rolled up his window and pulled right away from me into the gas station so he could pay $3.63 a gallon to satiate his oil addiction.
At about that same moment the sound of a horn came loud and insistent a car or two back of the pack and as I turned around and rolled through my right turn onto Venice into the inland-blowing breeze, here comes Asshole No. 2 yanking a reckless parallel right from the No. 2 lane to power alongside me, laying on his horn the whole way, while pushing the button that lowered the passenger side window.
“You were way the fuck outta line back there!” he yelled at me.
“Who the fuck are you and why the hell am I not at all surprised you’d think that?” I asked.
I think the simulcast questions hung him up because he repeated what he’d said as we continued eastward on Venice with me now fully occupying the No. 2 lane and the Dishonorable Judge Richard Head presiding in the No. 2.
So I advised him that it was kinda ironic him calling me out of line since such a dangerous right turn along with excessive and irresponsible use of his horn then compounded by harassing me the way he was presently could most definitely be construed as being ultra mega way the fuck out of line, and I asked for his driver license number so I could report his threatening manner to the local authorities. Strangely enough he refused to comply and instead screamed something unintelligible.
“OK then, let’s just uselessly and ridiculously yell at each other some more!” I suggested. He was all for that and told me I had no right to thread between the SUV and the parked cars the way I did.
I called bullshit telling him how hilarious it was that no matter where I bike on the road there’s always some person in a car who’ll tell me I shouldn’t be there. “Besides, I had position in that lane and had every right to bike where I was — and if anything Asshole No. 1 had the obligation to not initiate his unsafe lane change.”
“What do you mean ‘Asshole No. 1?'” he asked.
I shrugged, “Can I help it if you guys always seem to arrive in pairs?”
He pondered that for a 100 more feet or so and then relaxed a bit telling me what I need to do is calm down. Good advice, I thought and I said so to him. “I get that a lot,” I said. “But here’s the thing: It’s pretty much impossible for me to “calm down” (and yeah I took my hands off the bars and made the little quote signs) when I’m first endangered by drivers who don’t give a shit and then have the gall to make their fault mine and next by reckless drivers who reinforce and defend that behavior and then want to tell me how to ride and behave for my own good”
He had nothing.
So here’s the deal,” I said. “You all want to drive safer and leave me the fuck alone and I’ll be the happiest and quietest and calmest bicyclist on mutha earth!”
“Well. Then, ” he stammered, “Just. Be careful!” and gunned it forward.
“I AM careful!” I yelled into his exhaust. “Gah!”
Duly adrenalized I yelled out “Who’s got next!” to the four-wheeled world at large, but no one stepped up. Certainly it wouldn’t have been hard to find Asshole No. 3 on that busy stretch of roadway, but instead I kept it cool and contained and headed over to Crescent Heights up to 6th to La Brea to 4th, opting off the bike boulevard to continue north along Sycamore and Orange to Fountain where I’m such a jerk I stopped just east of my old junior high at a big pitbull who was loose and alone at the curb, looking like it was about to enter the street. Pulling onto the sidewalk I dismounted and dropped to my knees and whistled and the monster dog dropped its guard and ambled over to me where I petted its broad flank and back and it wagged its huge tail.
“Where you live big fella?” I asked. There was no collar or tags to provide that answer. I looked up and down the street in hopes of seeing someone. Then a couple doors down behind me, I heard a voice and turned to see two young men coming out of a fenced front yard. One of them asked “Nicky how’d you get out?” and in response Nicky ambled over to them from me and in through the gate, his guardian thanking me as I got back on my way.
Futher along Fountain I questioned my resolve and wondered if my commuting efforts were worth it or just a waste if time if I couldn’t accept that such types of encounters will continue to arise and demoralize. The quick answer is a percentage of motorists will never stop being offensive entitled and antagonistic douchebags and the obvious solution is I need just accept that and move on.
Approaching Hobar a few blocks later I was flagrantly cut off by some idiot in an orange van who yanked a right in front of me. My initial urge was to crank it and follow the guy to the first stop sign and give him a piece of my mind. Instead I compromised in calling him a dick and letting him go.
I’m calling that progress.