On your left…
Hello, I am the person who rudely spouted off to you today after you shaved by my right thigh. Yes, I dared to say ‘Why don’t you call on your left next time’ (sic). You, tricked out in matching spandex and carbon fiber, pulled up quick to holler, ‘Take your f__ng earbuds out, lady, because I called it’.
Now, if a breath of pause had ensued I might have apologized, however, over the quiet hum in my ear of Kristin Tippett and Ruby Sales talking about (ironically) public theology, you continued to berate me with the final sucker punch before you turned to peddle on, ‘Your just a f____ng b*tch’.
Sigh…. as you know, no, it did not stop there for I became unhinged and hollered back as you flew you middle flag high, ‘You are what gives all cyclist a bad name’. Yes, you stopped up short again and began to now rather easily call me names. F___ b*tch at least two more times and more rants about my earbuds.
We continued down the same path, this time with my heart pumping more of anger than fear. In moments you continued on your merry way. Have a nice day, I thought, as I tried to refocus on Ms. Sales quietly speaking about social justice.
Road rage is part of the reason I took up bike commuting five years ago. It has become such a staple that when I considered relocating jobs, I had to be able to cycle. It is now part of my routine, my calling, upholding a belief that we are the example of the life that is possible if we want to work a bit harder. When it is dark and 30 degrees, I question those things but peddle on.
Your verbal assault taught me a lesson today. Perhaps it was the lesson you wished to impart— we are not free to express anything anywhere without fear. Granted, perhaps I was out of line to call you out, but there are so many people that will confirm that no one announces their presense on the trail these days. The thing is… the sad thing, I did it more for other peoples’ safety than my own. I think about my mother walking the dog and the cyclist that skims by just as she stops short to tie her shoe — BOOM. She didn’t know a bike was right there until it was too late. Old bones break too easy.
One question before I sign off: Why in the world, dear cyclist, did you have to unleash such hate at me today? Do you have any idea how much strength it took to then serve the public, smiling, pretending like I had experienced a serene morning. Do you know that I actually questioned if perhaps in some teeny, tiny way I derved to be called a bitch? Ugh, my sisters at work quickly corrected me on that one.
While thinking about this later in the day, I have actually wondered how you processed this event. Certainly, unless you work with a misogynistic crew, this would not have been a story that could have been reenacted in truth. Doubtful that you’d share the verbal exchange with a wife, girlfriend, daughter or mother unless you left many words behind to linger.
Now, as nightfall creeps in I question tomorrow. It is likely we could meet again. If not you, someone like you and I will know better than to say anything. Are you not glad, this lesson you have taught me? Better yet, a lesson that suddenly seems to prevail in this current society. Sadly, this silence is growing and with it the hate blooms like a mushroom cloud spreading toxins into our atmosphere.