Sunday, April 08, 2012

Particularly Agreeable Relationship Reaches Exciting Milestone

Yesterday I met C. at a café near 22nd St. and Guerrero. He was seated outside the place mostly concealed behind a big potted plant, but I could see his hands and wrists undulating in the air from about a quarter of a block of way. When we were making our arrangements on the phone the day prior, C. said, “I don’t know what I’m doing except for what I’m doing right this minute, and I don’t even know that,” which I thought was rather charming.

We walked extremely slowly over to Church and 24th St. to the sidewalk sale of two sisters who had lived in their house for 40 years but now have been foreclosed upon and evicted. We didn’t buy anything, but I made a contribution.

Then we went to El Majahual for lunch. It’s on Valencia St. and serves Colombian and El Salvadorean food. Next we went to C.’s place for a bit to see how things were there and to sing a little, and then to my place to see how things were here. It was quite an enjoyable day.

I was riding my bicycle to Rainbow today along 20th St., with a white car following fairly close behind, not really too close, but not as far back as I prefer. When I stopped at a red light, the car pulled up to my right and the driver, a man, said quietly that he thought it would be courteous if I were to pull over and let him go by.

I said politely, “Well, I have the legal right to be exactly where I am. You know that, right?”

I’d assumed he was on my right because he was getting ready to turn right, but when the light changed and I had crossed to the other side of the intersection, he sped angrily by me on my left, showing his true colors, or some of his other colors, anyway.

Of course, brooding and visions of alternate scenarios ensued.  For instance, I might have said, “You are operating your vehicle in a safe and legal manner, as far as I can tell. You could go further and demonstrate extreme courtesy by pulling over and letting me have the road to myself, but would it really be reasonable of me to expect that? By the same token, do you really think it’s reasonable for you to suggest that I, also operating a vehicle in a safe and legal manner, should pull over so you can have the entire road to yourself?

“My pulling over potentially puts me in the door zone, an unsafe place to ride. You feel it’s the right thing to ask a complete stranger to place herself in jeopardy so that you can get to the next stop sign two seconds sooner? [Here I’d naturally be warming to my topic a little.]

“There is, however, a law [CVC 21656] that applies perfectly in this situation, as it calls upon a slow-moving vehicle “behind which five or more vehicles are formed in line” to pull over and let faster traffic pass, and rest assured that if you were five faux-reasonable fellows, I would be happy to comply.”

But that’s all a bit disingenuous. The truth is that I often do move slightly to the right to let a motorist know he or she is welcome to pass; sometimes I wave the car by with my arm. It depends on three things: my mood, if the motorist has demonstrated poor manners or aggression (in which case they’re welcome to follow me all day; i.e., they are not welcome to pass, unless I think they would actually be willing to drive over me, in which case, please, after you), and what kind of car they’re driving.

This fellow had made the error of addressing me from a BMW, that car which, along with the Prius, automatically raises the hackles of many cyclists, because their drivers are so often rude and self-entitled. If this guy hadn’t stomped on the gas after our chat, I might have ended up wishing I’d been even milder in responding, perhaps just saying, “Duly noted; thanks.” But since he did do that, he seemed to prove once again that BMW drivers really do think no one else should be on the road.

But it wasn’t a major thing and did not affect my weekly visit with my favorite checkout person at Rainbow, a friendship that has reached the two-year mark and is really one of my favorite relationships because the ratio of time invested to satisfaction achieved is completely off the charts. Ten minutes per week affords, say, one hundred or so units of pleasure. Happy anniversary and so many thanks, dear favorite checkout person!
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