Well, this just has to about beat all. On my bike, I’ve been left-hooked, right-hooked, cut-off, short-stopped, tailgated, shaved, flipped-off, shoaled, poached, thrown at, laughed at, yelled at, cussed out, threatened and derided by all manner of motorists.
Never before — nope: NEVER EVER — have I experienced direct derision and disdain from someone so much further down the ladder than me until this morning when the very embodiment of Some Homeless Guy (SHG), looking about as fresh as he probably smelled, saw me as I rolled to a stop at Wilshire Boulevard, while southbound on La Brea, and decided to let the world know he thought I was just about the stupidest thing on the street.
Watching the pedestrians cross in front of me I didn’t catch that the tirade was in anyway directed at me. All I saw and heard mixed in with the din of the rush-hour cross traffic was the shaggy and begraggled SHG on the corner to my right with multiple duffel bags looking my way and incomprehensibly yelling — the latter being something that street people are pretty commonly and loudly known to do.
This tirade went on for the better part of 10 seconds, and I was doing pretty well at respectfully ignoring the gibberish right up until he ended his rant with something along the lines of “…and here’s this idiot on the street riding a motherfucking bicycle!”
Above image of SHG culled and photoshopped from video of the encounter, viewable after the jump.
Subsequently since I was the only idiot on the street riding a motherfucking bicycle in the fellow’s immediate vicinity I was able to deduce that he was taking vocal issue directly with me, and so I turned my attention his way and observed him in silence standing there observing me in silence.
Any of several expletive-laced rhetorical retorts came to mind, but I opted not to travel the low road and instead called out “Huh?” from my position in the far left of the curb lane of traffic over to him at the curb by the light signal.
And he yells back “You’re riding a fucking bike!”
Such sharp powers of perception might merit insincere commendation, but since I hadn’t been able to process the opening segment of his monologue I vetoed snark and instead inquired: “I don’t understand. What’s the problem?”
“This is L.A.,” he said. “Why aren’t you driving a car?”
I noted how bikes were worthy of his abject degradation, but cars were spared such insulting shame from him, and sensed that I was speaking with a card-carrying perpetuator of our city’s car culture — albeit presently sans-car, no doubt an intense source of shame for him.
So I told him what I expected would be the most ridiculous thing he could bear to hear: “I don’t need one.”
In response he gives me this quick “whatever you say asshole” type of nod as if I’ve just proven his theory that bikers are completely oblivious to their idiocy and insane to think they can survive somewhere they have no right being. From his point of view I may very well have looked like a koala in a river full of crocs saying “everything’s great!” And he’s on the crocs’ side.
So after a few more awkward seconds of silence, I don’t ask him what kind of sweet sled he’ll be driving himself to the rescue mission in later this afternoon and instead I fail in the attempt to justify what to him is entirely unjustifiable.
“Just gettin’ to work and back,” I say. Tryin’ to save a little money.”
Of course I had more to say, but the light was getting set to turn green and I was more interested in getting on my way than I was wasting time saying more of what this guy would just deem nonsense, so in parting I wished him well.
“Have a good day man,” I said, continuing downstream, with the crocs all around me.
See for yourself, but there ain’t much to hear. My sunglasses cam’s vid quality is passable but the sound is so atrocious it would be almost better without that function… but there’s no way to turn it off:
UPDATED (02/17): Fancy meeting him again!
Funny though, this Wednesday morning at 4th & La Brea, two days after the original encounter, the previously outspoken transient had absolutely no comment, ignoring me even when I asked if he had anything to say today.