Ego

Weather: Troubled skies, cold but dry.

What a difference 100ccs make!

Though they look almost identical, Scarlet is a completely different animal from the Red Baron. In traffic, we scoot and we squirt and we zoom past somnolent motorists with the greatest of ease. We can even keep up with traffic on the city freeways if we want. But we seldom want that.

Gone is the Zen sensibility I had developed with the Red Baron. I don’t have to simply accept any situation in traffic anymore. Passing on city streets is simply a matter of twisting the throttle and swooping around the obstacle. We beat out all cages in the stoplight drag races. Scarlet and I have the power and torque to make moves I only dreamed of on the Red Baron.

But these moves have their consequences, as I learned on the way home tonight.

There has been an explosion of road destruction projects around my home this autumn. I think it has a lot to do with the new condos they are building on Robert Street. Somebody paid big bribes to the city to make the surrounding thoroughfares more attractive.

As a result, Scarlet and I cannot ride all the way down our home street anymore. We have to make a detour, which takes us down a much busier street than we normally like to ride. Tonight, we found that street choked with cages, as the “Road Closed” signs channelled all traffic into a big bottleneck.

Approaching this mess, we came to a stopsign. A large, black 4×4 pickup pulled up to the street on our left. Since we were to his right, and were going straight ahead, I assumed we had the right-of-way. We started to go, and this guy roared out into the intersection ahead of us. Jackass… Yes, but there’s more to come.

There was a stoplight up ahead, as this street crossed the busy Robert Street. There are two lanes on Robert, but only the left lane was moving. One hundred yards up from the light, there was a car parked in the right lane. This stopped the cars from using it, but for a scooter it was an open invitation.

Jackass in the pickup truck had bullied his way to the head of the right turn line, but found himself stymied by the bumper-to-bumper traffic going by. Scarlet and I crept up the right side, next to the curb, and made the right turn ahead of him. We had gone about fifty yards when I heard the most gawd-awful racket of bellowing V-8 and shrieking, tortured rubber behind us.

In my rearview mirror, I watched this moron light up his tires and spin a complete 180° turn into cross-traffic, ending up with his front tires over the curb and his front bumper blocking the sidewalk. The cars all around honked at him, but Scarlet and I merged into the left lane and continued on home.

Safe in my driveway, I contemplated what had just happened. Obviously, this jerk had wanted to come roaring up behind us, probably within a couple feet of our rear tire, or some such juvenile tactic. But the truck got away from him, endangering innocent people in the process.

If the nearest motorist in the left lane on Robert Street hadn’t been paying attention, there would have been a collision, possibly with injuries. If there had been pedestrians on the sidewalk at the location where his bumper intruded, there may have been casualties. Would I have been the cause of all that?

Indirectly, yes. My ego drove me to take advantage of our single-track footprint and slip ahead of him in traffic. His ego pushed him into a temper tantrum that could have killed or injured innocent people. All so I could arrive home maybe a whole minute sooner?

Let’s be honest; I wasn’t trying to save time. I was just trying to tweak this Jackass. I hate people like that, and here was my chance to prove… what? That two-wheels are better than four? We all know that. But we will never convince people like him. So why take a chance on provoking them?

Well, I guess it was just like every other split-second decision I make in traffic. I almost always err towards the aggressive. That’s a legacy of my time in the Marine Corps… attack-attack-attack! It has worked for me so far, but I fear I may need to rethink my strategy. If something had happened to somebody’s little child because of this, I would have a very hard time living with myself.

12 Responses to “Ego”

  1. jim Says:

    Well, I personally would like to pull that guy out of his vehicle and slap the stupid jerk right in the face. As far as causing that idiot to act the way he did, man there are some real dumb asses out there. It seems like the trucker was already ticked off anyhow so I don’t blame you for his reaction.
    I could go on and on about this type of behavior but the best thing for me to do, is calm down, and be glad no one got hurt, except of course for the pickup driver, I wish his nose would get broken,etc,etc.
    Anyhow I wouldn’t blame myself if I were you.
    later
    jim

  2. Tom Staggs Says:

    Jerks will be jerks no matter what we do. If not you someone else would have set him off.

    Be Safe Ride Well

    ts

  3. irondad Says:

    I agree with Tom. We could carry the “what if?” thing so far we become paranoid of even making eye contact for fear that becomes construed as a threat. Be assertive but stop short of reckless. Did you do anything else to provoke the jackass or did you just filter? If you fingered and filtered then, yeah, you fouled. Otherwise, sleep well.

  4. Mad Says:

    Yup I’m with Irondad on this one :D

  5. seagullplayer Says:

    I’m with Irondad aswell.

    But it’s easy for other men to tell us what we should do. In the end it’s up to you. You spent more time living with yourself than anyone else will, what can you live with? If your happy with who you are and what you do, sleep well, if not change…

    Rubber Down

  6. Gary Charpentier Says:

    Since you’re all saying the same thing, I’m going to answer you all together.

    Let me first tell you that it happened just as I related it. There were no “hand signals” exchanged, at least not from my end. His windows were tinted too dark for me to see what he was doing.

    But here’s the thing: I KNEW he was going to react like that. I just knew it. I can’t tell you how, but maybe I’ve been riding in this rush hour traffic for so long that I have developed a kind of clairvoyance or something.

    It seems that I can look at a vehicle and it’s driver and pretty much tell how they are going to react to being passed. Normally, I just let the Jackasses go, but last night…. I don’t know.

    When I passed this Jackass, I knew he was probably going to go apeshit, yet I did it anyway. On purpose. Technically, here in Minnesota, filtering like I did was illegal. This has no bearing on his reaction, of course. Two wrongs… as it were. But I could have just stayed in line and not pressed the issue. I intend to try and do that in the future.

    That’s all I’m trying to say.

    Ride well,
    =gc=

  7. Dick Aal Says:

    Gary,
    I wonder if the reaction you get on some of these things are due to being on a scooter. If you had been on a Harley, the idiot would have seen you more as an equal than a whimp on a scooter. HE didn’t know there is a Marine under the helmet. If a badass looking biker on a Harley would have done that he may not have gone apeshit. That’s the theory anyway.
    Keep doing it and keep safe. I just got into bad traffic not far from home yesterday and split lanes for about 1/2 mile and got through two lights in 5 minutes instead of 20 minutes during the commute. The reason I did it was to get somewhere rather quickly. Normally (being retired) I am not in that much of a hurry and would wait. But traffic was stopped and I was going 5-10 mph down the white line. I got no adverse reaction from the commute traffic. (Maybe its is a Minnesota thing)

  8. phil Says:

    I suspect the weasel in the truck would have reacted the same way if you’d been on a bicycle. But it’s never a mistake to cast a critical eye on our own behavior and the possible consequences.

  9. Gary Charpentier Says:

    Dick: That same thought occurred to me. I didn’t want to be the first to mention it here, because there are some perfectly reasonable Harley riders out there, some of whom actually read this blog.

    But these guys in the big, loud pickup trucks are the same guys who use said trucks to drag their bikes to Sturgis, and pose on Main Street anywhere there are people to pay attention. “Look at ME!” – seems to be their rallying cry.

    That said, Minnesotans in general will have a hard time with lane-sharing and filtering, if we ever manage to legalize them. It’s just not “Minnesota Nice”, I guess…

    phil: I can thank my daughter for my newfound introspection. I am constantly evaluating my actions in light of the fact that she depends on me. Playing games like this for my personal gratification doesn’t fit into that program.

    Ride well,
    =gc=

  10. Steve Williams Says:

    Gary,

    I know this story and have done similar things myself. Afterwards I recriminate myself for the risk my actions created. I am able to rationalize my actions pretty well but I am always left with the reason I acted in the first place—- I wanted to pissoff, punish, or rattle someone. Regardless of their behavior I can only be accountable for mine. Blaming them just takes the focus from me and my behavior.

    The result? I sit in lines more than I used to. I don’t make plans while driving to block the forward progress of idiots I see weaving through traffic behind me. I let the person go first that I see straining at the bit to move. and I drive and ride without feeling bad about myself knowing I am doing the right thing regardless of the other jerks on the road.

    Your daughter will continue to give you cause for introspection. It will become continually more challenging as she grows…..*grin* I thought I had finished now that my two are in their twenties but the wonderful opportunities for personal growth keep coming and coming.

    steve

  11. John Timbes Says:

    Hi,
    Don’t know if it’s just getting older and wiser, or because I have a son now, but I have been having alot of such experiences in the last couple years. I have been thinking about each experience, and trying to change. It’s not easy, because the aggressiveness comes so naturally. Part of my decision to change from a sportbike to a maxiscoot had to do with “slowing down” a bit. Now, when a car pressures me from behind, I tend to just pull off and let them pass instead of speeding up or trying to react in some way. I don’t go 15 over the speed limit that much anymore. More like 10 over, and in residential areas it won’t get past 5 over. I feel better about my commute now, and worry less.
    John T

  12. Gary Charpentier Says:

    John: Your experience mirrors my own. Even down to the self-imposed speed-limits. Though I still have a hard time pulling over for jerks. I’m working on that…

    Ride well,
    =gc=