Cool & Unusual Punishment

I did something amazing yesterday at the tail end of last night’s IAAL•MAF “Scoot & Shoot” Ride downtown. I was on 4th Street on the left side of the No. 2 lane when a brand new black Ford Mustang in the No. 1 lane gunned it passing close by me, leaving perhaps a foot / foot-and-a-half between us, at most.

It was clearly an agressively intentional maneuver (that I’ve only experience four billion and seven times this year), but what the driver wasn’t intending was to get stuck at the light up ahead at Central Avenue so that I could roll up on his passenger side, which of course I did.

Except what happened next was pretty rare for me. Instead of me giving the young punk in the driver’s seat an earful and a middle finger, I just calmly bent over and told him through the open window that he’d passed me “awfully close” back there and that I hoped he’d consider giving cyclists a little more room in the future.

He seemed to think about this thoughtfully for a moment and even agreed to do so with a semi-reluctant “Yeah,” but then came the inevitable exhibition of his lack of wisdom and intelligence when he said “And it would help if you stayed out of the middle of the road!” at which point the light was green and he smugly punched it across and beyond the intersection, and I rolled my eyes watching him go with my friend Stephen who’d arrived to back me up yelling after the jerk: “He wasn’t in the middle of the road!”

Alas for the young gunner, his second attempt at a clean getaway got botched when he landed at the next red light a block away at Alameda. So again I rolled along his starboard flank. Having already been an asshat with me at the last red light I knew I was well within my rights to return the favor, but shockingly I again went calm and diplomatically told the guy, whose smugness was now replaced with something of an trapped and embarrassed grimace, that I hadn’t been trying to piss him off and that if he wanted to be belligerent that was his choice, but not a very good one.

He nodded.

“I was just trying to get you to see that we can both coexist on the road, you know what I’m saying?”

Maybe it was relief that I was still being a decent guy when I didn’t have to be, maybe it was just surrender, but he let out a “Yeah,” that seemed sincere enough, and I said “Cool” “and “thanks” and complimented him on his sleek sled and we both went our separate ways, with me a bit blown away at how much of a grown-up I can be. Occasionally