Wednesday, September 2, 2009

You Ain't Got No Business Here

Wednesday morning, I lost one of my favorite short-cuts.

Just last week, I mentioned how my morning commute goes through the CSX railroad yard next to Traveller's Rest. I said then that I was "cheating a bit," since there's a No Trespassing sign there. I've been taking this short-cut for over a year now, though, and nobody has ever given me any grief. Heck, the few folks that I have seen working in there usually wave to me.

But the sign says "No Trespassing," so I've just been waiting for someone to enforce it. And, Wednesday morning, a guy in a CSX truck yelled at me, "You ain't got no business here."

Now, I could be a putz about this and do any of the following:
  • Take him literally regarding whether I own some kind of business operating in his railyard. Obviously, I do not. Maybe he was asking that I not begin selling hot dogs there; since I rarely carry hot dogs on my bike (much less buns ... although I have been known to pack relish), I can oblige that request.
  • Take him literally and channel my inner grammar Nazi. His use of a double negative means that I have business there. He is not only giving me right of passage, but carte blanche to open a shop. Maybe he wants to buy a hot dog.
  • Ignore him and continue to trespass.
There are probably other options, if I'm willing to think just a little further outside the box, but many of them involve death and dismemberment, or that I finally turn the power on at my orbiting laser platform. I'm not willing to do that just yet ... and not just because the electricity bill for orbiting laser platforms is freakin' huge.

Instead, I'm going to heed the admonitions of this self-appointed official of CSX, and stop traversing his mostly vacant railyard.

(To translate for my friend in the CSX truck: Okey-dokey.)

I will miss this part of my morning ride. It means that I have to get on Trousdale Road for another half-mile, and there are lots of cars there jockeying for position to get through the busy intersection with Harding Road. The railyard often had a lot of gravel, and a couple of tricky railroad crossings to get over, but it was usually nice and quiet.

Of course, this illustrates one of the classic facts regarding Great Bicycle Routes -- very often, we ain't got no business there. Just as water seeks the lowest lowest, traffic seeks the shortest distance between two points ... and then goes way over the speed limit along it. Unfortunately, there often is a neighborhood or school or park or a shopping center in the way, which means that cars ain't got no business there, either. To foil them, the responsible municipalities or corporations will put up speed bumps, traffic barriers, no trespassing signs, or just close the damned road. This has the effect of funnelling traffic back to the major thoroughfares ... or through neighborhoods full of poor people that cannot properly contribute to the local congresswoman's re-election fund.

The cyclist dares not get on the major thoroughfare, so he often ends up cutting through parking lots, speeding on the greenway, bouncing over speed bumps, or cyclocrossing through somebody's yard. Many of these tactics has us flirting with the law ... but of course we do that on a regular basis anyway. You really cannot be a cyclist in this country without eventually running a red light, merely because your bike does not have enough metal to trip the sensor.

But law-breaking is a slippery slope. Once you've run a red light enough times because "it's not going to change for you," you may find yourself treating every red light as if it were a stop sign, and then a yield sign, and then behaving as if you're a New York City bike messenger and only slowing down enough to flip off the cabbies.

The trick is to bend the law just enough so that you can get under it, and then continue on your way. It won't always keep you from getting a ticket, but it will keep your karma clean.

Without law, we have chaos. Which reminds me of one of my favorite bits from Get Smart. The TV show, not the movie ... although I really liked the movie. Steve Carell is a funny guy, and Anne Hathaway ... mm-rowr. That was a roar, in case you were wondering.

But, I digress.

Anyway, in the Get Smart bit, Siegfried is talking with a henchman about how to dispose of Max and Agent 99. The henchman says, "Let's put them against the wall and shoot them with a machine gun." Then he pretends to have a machine gun that he is firing, saying "doo-doo-doo-doo-doo!"

Siegfriend yells, "Idiot! We do not 'doo-doo' in Kaos!"

Which, I guess, is my point (since I am supposed to have one ... I think it's a law). Now that this inbred semi-literative representative of CSX has made it clear that I "ain't got no business" there, for me to continue to trespass would mean that I was doo-dooing in Kaos.

And that creates a slippery slope.

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