July 30, 2007

Dear Fellow Traverser of Chicago City Streets,

Yes, you certainly do own a fine and beautiful automobile. I believe it's a Bentuar, or a Jagley, if my broad knowledge of today's ridiculous luxury vehicles serves me well.

You do not, however, by extension or entitlement, own the Chicago city street on which you and I are currently both traveling.

More to the point, do you have any idea what a great experiential discrepancy there exists between you and me when you decide to honk (from your car) at me (on my bike) -- for reasons I still can't figure out?*

From the surround-sound, air-conditioned, privileged interior of your car, you are perhaps slightly annoyed by my presence, and clearly think nothing of laying all over your horn, and motoring blithely on your way.

From astride my old and rapidly rusting bicycle, burdened with heavy cargo (and no, I don't mean my ass), exposed to all elements both natural and unnatural, I am violently physically startled and almost knocked off my shaky seat by my instinctive physical reaction to the the abrupt and very jarring noise of your horn.

You go on, comfortable, safe, and protected by layers of steel. I go on, my heart pounding and my entire body shaking for several blocks.

All of this is my careful, detailed, and probably unnecessary way of saying what I finally yelled at you after regaining something resembling my composure after today's encounter: "F*CK OFF!"

Love,
Bella Rossa

*Seriously, what was that about? I was not in your way. There was no other traffic on the block. I was not impeding your travel in the least. I wasn't wearing a tank top, or a "Buck Fush" t-shirt, or anything else that might have prompted your jerkass reaction. What?!

12 comments:

Chancelucky said...

As a long time cyclist, this is one phenomenon I've never understood. Why do cars like coming up on cyclists from behind and honking their horns? I used to hear stories about riders who sometimes carried a rock in their front pack or kept a slightly sharp object handy just to get revenge. Not sure that's physically doable or even a good idea, but....

In San Francisco, they have been known to have events where cyclists take up all the lanes on the Bay Bridge just to make the point that they have a right to the road as well.

One of my worst experiences was having someone throw a bottle at my bike one evening.

It does make me think that people who can get away with stuff frequently have little conscience about what they might do.

Bella Rossa said...

On the funny side, this always reminds me of the Kids in the Hall sketch with the angry bike messenger guy - "HEY! I'm VULNERABLE here!" That phrase pops into my head a lot when I'm playing death tag with CTA buses.

I've been lucky enough to avoid bottles so far, but this sort of thing scares me enough to sometimes make me really mad.

Dan Telfer said...

Before my bike was disappeared by ninjas, I had this happen all the time. I eventually deduced that some privileged asscakes simply thought people on bikes were all idiots, and if you don't alert them of your presence (not unlike cars that honk as they slowly exit an alley, in case there are blind people crossing the alley sidewalk) you will surely ride your bicycle straight into their car grill, inconveniently taking up their next few weeks with yet another vehicular manslaughter charge.

Bella Rossa said...

Ninjas stole your bike? Omigod, that must be what happened to my first bike...it was safely parked inside the back door of my office at my old job, and then suddenly -- GONE. I filed a useless police report and now I wish I'd known to tell them to be on the lookout for bike ninjas. DAMNIT.

Maybe I'll start wearing a special vest whenever I bike, imprinted with: "NOT AN IDIOT. PLEASE DO NOT HONK."

Dan Telfer said...

Be warned, that T-shirt is the uniform of at least one Illinois ninja school, and you are likely to get some "what's up" honks in response.

Bella Rossa said...

And, of course, "what's up" honks are just as likely to scare me right off my seat. There is no winning! Time to tune up the ol' jetpack, I guess.

MrBaliHai said...

You do realize you're talking to an Ill-annoy driver, right? In my experience, some of the biggest asshats and roadhogs in the nation.

If this'd happened in Wisconsin, they'd also be tossing a McDonald's bag out the window, yapping on their cellphone, and crossing 3 lanes of traffic without a turn signal as they're laying on the horn.

Bella Rossa said...

I'm telling you..jetpacks are the only way to go.

Anonymous said...

Several years ago, I decided to ride my bicycle from Indianapolis to Beckley, West Virginia. Try sharing miles of hairpin-turn, 1.7 lane mountain roads (upward cliff face on one side, downward cliff face on the other side) with overloaded coal trucks screaming down on you from both directions... or have a freakin' schoolbus (loaded with children) run you off the road... or follow a two-lane road that suddenly, without warning or option, becomes an interstate highway (from which you're prohibited), giving every single automobile the inalienable right to lay on the horn as they blow past you... *sigh* L'Zard

Bella Rossa said...

Geez, L'Zard, that sounds awful! Maybe you should stick to the new Indianapolis Cultural Trail (soon to feature art from my much-mentioned friend Emily Kennerk) or the Monon Trail from now on!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry about your poor bicycling experiences. But would you feel better if a ‘87 Ford Escort Pony with broken air conditioning and worn cloth seats honked at you? And what is so offensive about wearing a tank top or an "Osama Obama" t-shirt?

Bella Rossa said...

An '87 Ford Escort Pony honk would endanger and therefore annoy me just as much. But somehow people in super-duper luxury cars seem even more out of touch with the world around them and even more entitled to behave this way as motorists. Not that I categorically dislike the materially advantaged, of course. Some of my best friends are materially advantaged, and some of my family members have married such folks, and I don't have a problem with it at all.