Friday, April 16, 2010

The Crappy Commute

To the owner of the black SUV whose window I spat on this morning: You deserved it.

Maybe I was overreacting, but I don't think so. To be honest, you were kind of catching the flak (or phlegm) from a cascade of events over which you had no control.

First, there was the big grey Suburban that almost right-hooked me less than a mile from my house. To you, I say: Speeding up to 40 mph in a 25 mph zone just so you can make a right turn into a street about 30 yards ahead of me is not cool. Had I been going faster than 15 mph, I would have spat on your window, too. Of course, I might have bled on it, first.

The next 10 miles went great. I stopped by Panera, and they had my three-seed demi on the shelf. Then I went up Franklin Pike Circle early enough that the kids going to Overton High and Franklin Road Academy weren't out yet.

But as I'm turning from Farrell Parkway onto Stillwood, a white SUV decides to pass me -- in the middle of the turn, and with a car coming the other way. I guess he thought that I would just pull off the road and stop or something, and was rather nonplussed by the fact that he had to fall back to avoid hitting the other car. He then proceeded to roar around me onto Bramblewood, got to the top, and made the turn onto Trousdale before I finished climbing the hill. Had he been a little slower, I would have used up my spit on him.

Then, as I'm turning onto Trousdale I noticed that my rear tire was going flat.

Now, Trousdale's one of the busiest roads on my commute. I used to avoid this road by cutting through the CSX railroad yard, but stopped doing that when one of the workmen there informed me that I was persona non grati. Trousdale is four lanes at this point with a 35 mph speed limit, and it's very near the interstate, so cars during rush hour there do not behave well.

I pulled off the road, carried the bike a couple of feet to a tree in somebody's yard, and changed the tire. When I pulled off the old tube, I checked and found that it had developed a hole near the stem. Ah, well, these things happen when you pump your tires up two or three times a week. Of course, getting the tire off I barked a knuckle, so I bled all over the spare as I put it on. But, again, this is just one of the things that happen when you ride a bicycle.

About 15 minutes later, I got back on Trousdale. A couple of hundred yards down the road, however, the afore-mentioned black SUV went by about six inches away from my left elbow. There may have been a car next to him -- I couldn't tell -- but either way, it would not have slowed him down more than a few seconds to give me a little more room. As it was, his impatience did not make any difference, as he did not make the light for the left turn on to Harding anyway.

So, now I'm a little ticked. I cut between the two lanes of cars so I can pass next to the offending black SUV, hocked a big spit ball on his window as I went by, and then cut back over so I could go straight when the light turned. While waiting, I looked back pointedly to see if the driver had anything to say. He carefully avoided looking at me.

At this point, my commute was now officially "crappy." I don't like confrontation -- who does? -- and I had been forced to threaten, albeit mildly, another human being. I told myself that if my actions make him think twice about giving a bicyclist a little more space the next time he passes one, then it will be worth it. That helped ... some.

Of course, karma is a bitch, and I had given vent to my anger. Just before I got to work I noticed that my tire was going flat again. I'll have to change it before I ride home tonight, but hopefully that will be a better trip -- or at least a less confrontational one.


  1. Sorry for your frustration/anger. It is the better part of valor to run away to fight another day than to enrage a motorist, especially in TN. I have found more people that are armed in their vehicles down here than I thought possible. I wouldn't want a road raged person to cap me as a result of a frustration, Robert. Just my 2 cents, get a bopping clown and beat the living hell out of it when you get back home. Could be you need one in the office too.

  2. One of the many dangers of living where we do, RandoBoy, is the presence of inconsiderate blokes in large vehicles. This fact is somewhat inescapable, and unfortunately even more so for a cyclist. I hope that you are able to be safe on the roads as much as you can be! Next time someone does that, remember that when nonrenewable resources are nigh depleted and the Golden Age of the Bicycle is upon us, they will be suffering... or maybe just converted to segways.

    For now, I suggest breathing exercises.