I attempt to be a balanced, calm and reflected person. Sometimes this works more, and other times less well.
Cycling and road rage are a classic.
Those of you who have not ridden a bike in a while may be less able to empathize, but those who regularly cycle in a busy town, I am sure you can understand what I mean. Now of course it takes two to tango, but I do feel it is up to the party with the advantage to look out for the weaker party. In traffic this would mean that a person cocooned in a vehicle weighing two tons of course is inherently less exposed and at risk than someone riding a bicycle. This does not mean that not everybody should be equally aware of what is going in around them, but the consequences in case of a collision are potentially much more serious for the cyclist.
Do not get me wrong, I love riding my bike, for me it is the ultimative, hassle-free way of getting round town. It is fun, easy and you are not ramming your ________ (insert currency of your choice here) down some Russian oligarch or Saudi autocrat’s throat, we do that often enough as it is!
So, the other day, after work I had to go and look at a job site that had not been running well, there were builders on site who had been really obstructive and generally a bit caveman-ish and I was annoyed . So I cycled into the road, past a car reversing out – and the car honks its horn at me.
OK, I could have cycled on, I suppose, but I was intrigued as to WHY the guy (of course) in the car deemed it necessary to give me a sonic indication of some wrong-doing on my part. So I cycled back and inquired in a perfectly civil tone through his open window what the problem seemed to be. The guy was a suit, some company rep who was obviously more than ready to go home and was also grumpy. He told me that I had been really lucky just now. Huh? Why? Because he had been reversing. Now this I did not quite understand, as he was driving a smallish station wagon, not some forty ton juggernaut, which I then pointed out to him and said that I assumed that as he was reversing he was looking in the direction he was driving in and therefore did not quite see where the danger lay.
Anyway, without boring you with the details, this, admittedly pointless, discussion dragged on for a bit, then I decided it was time to lighten the mood a bit and break the ice.
Me: I’m sorry if I am changing the topic, but do you know the difference between a cow’s tail and a tie?
Corporate boy (slightly red in the face): Ggngngng… no?
Me: The cow’s tail covers the whole ar**hole.
He did not like my joke.
OK, I realized then that he was wearing a tie. Well, maybe I had realized it just before I told him the joke. Anyways, rather than the ice being broken, things went a bit downhill from there and a budding great friendship deteriorated into a car vs. bike chase through the streets of Basle. In such instances bunny hopping onto kerbs and one-way streets become a cyclist’s friend.
My wife was somewhat annoyed with me. She felt this kind of behaviour did not reflect well upon my forty plus years, but hey! My theory is that if someone is behaving like a twat it is ok to let him know, that has nothing to do with my age! But of course – as so often – she is right, I probably ended more irritated than corporate boy. But still, I love the idea of that joke rattling round his head, a seed that will grow, every time he puts on the tie in the morning he will think of it and his shoulders will sag just that wee bit. Vindictive? Me? Never!
Towards the end of our ill-fated encounter he wanted to know my name in order to take me to court. For a moment I was tempted to do so, just to see the cow’s tail joke in print in the court protocol (Mr. Bridge, is it true that you told the plaintiff following joke...), but then decided against it, felt like more hassle than it was worth just for a giggle. And judges wear ties.
So, I will attempt to be more adult next time and calmly walk away from such a situation. Karma, being the fickle lady that she is, will probably turn round and hit me between the eyes with this one when I expect it least, something like: I am up in the mountains, get surprised by an avalanche, manage to extract myself out of the snow, to then realize that I am now stuck without equipment and getting severely cold in the middle of nowhere. As I am stumbling along, semi-snow blind, luck would have it that I arrive at a hut, lit from within and welcoming… it is a life-saver! I crawl up to it and just manage to knock on the door, which opens… revealing: THE COMPANY REP! Yikes!
… (that is the sound of a pregnant silence)
Sorryyyy about the cow’s tail joke! Can I come in now? Please?
OK, I will attempt to do better next time, promised. Definitively. Maybe.