Monday, August 16, 2010

Idiot on a Motorcycle

I tried to figure out what was wrong with him afterward. Was he drunk? Hopped up on meth? Then I figured, nah, he was probably just buzzing on adrenalin and his own epic stupidity. He was just another angry douchebag on a motorcycle, and he had just tried to challenge me to a fight outside the grocery store where I had gone to pick up pull-ups for my son.

We ran out of pull-ups. I hopped into our boring little middle-class suburbia vehicle, so I could drive to our boring middle-class grocery store ten blocks away from our house and get pull-ups for my kid.

I turned onto a busy street, and yeah, maybe I swung into the street just a bit too quickly. I saw a motorcycle behind a van in the right lane and he seemed like he was following just a bit too closely. The rider was wearing shorts and a t-shirt and sneakers. (He looked remarkably like the guy in the picture above.)

I was in the left lane, they were in the right. I had to make a right-hand turn to get to the grocery store, so I did that instant calculation that you do in your head all the time: okay, these guys are probably going to speed up a little bit, and I'll just swing in behind them when that happens, or else I'll cut in when they slow down.

The van slowed down to make a right turn. I saw my opportunity. I started to move into the right lane - carefully, cautiously, using my turn signal appropriately - and was shocked to find the motorcycle roaring up behind me on my right. He was flying. I slowed down just fast enough to avoid sideswiping him, and then I beeped my horn at him.

It was an unconscious decision to honk the horn. It was one of those things you do without thinking. Someone does something stupid, you punctuate it with a beep on the horn. "Hey, I'm just going to make an observation here that you just did an asshole thing." Seattle people don't tend to use their horns very often, but I'm not from here, so I'll beep at any idiot who rubs me the wrong way.

It was just that fast: I turned on my blinker, I started to move, and then zip, brake, beep. It was a half-second sequence. And then the guy did something that I couldn't understand at first. He stopped his bike in the middle of the lane - forcing me to stop - cut the motor, and kicked down the kickstand. And then he started walking toward me, shouting and waving his fists.

I didn't get out. Hell, I didn't even roll down my window. I'm not stupid. (Plus, I had the air conditioning on.) So I don't know what he was saying, but I could guess. "Come on! Let's go! You wanna throw down?! Come on, bring it, motherfucker!"

I refused to bring it. I raised my open palms at him, which is the international code for "no thank you, I will decline your offer to throw down." At least, I hoped he read it that way. I was also communicating a second message: to wit, "are you out of your fucking mind?!"

A guy in the other lane had also stopped by now and he started to get out of his car, preparing to break up the fight. The fight didn't happen. Dude shouted for another few seconds and then got back on his crotch rocket and took off. It was absolutely bizarre.

I went into the store, shaken, looking over my shoulder to make sure he didn't come back to chase me down. And I bought the stupid pull-ups and drove home, still on edge.

Afterward, I tried to think about whether I had done something wrong. Did I cut him off somewhere else, in the six blocks before this incident happened? Was I being unsafe? But no. This was all on Crotch Rocket boy. If I learned nothing from the movie The Kids Are All Right, it's that guys who ride motorcycles are generally douchebags who do things without thinking.

It was scary, though, whatever the reason. It was a trivial moment that instantly escalated into violence. Or, would-be violence. One moment, I'm a normal dad running the most boring of errands. The next moment, someone's threatening to punch my lights out. I hate shit like that.


Anonymous said...

''guys who ride motorcycles are generally douchebags who do things without thinking''.

hmmmmmm...Too bad he didn’t punch you in the face.

Anonymous said...

Motorcycles are ego amplifiers and that young man had no idea how to control his immature ego.

Anonymous said...

"Ego amplifiers?" Really? What logic could you possible use to validate a wildly inaccurate claim such as this that wouldn't apply to EVERY other type of vehicle on the road? You, sir, are an idiot.

Anonymous said...

hey asshole, if you saw him following the van too closely why would you try to turn in between the van and the motorcyclist. you are equally a douchebag. thank you very much.

also you should get into the appropriate lane ahead of time

Anonymous said...

Chill guys...(I ride a motorcycle...all year around too).
I would disagree that generally bikers are like this, but all it takes is a few bad eggs to spoil it for everyone. Every time you ride a bike, you're representing EVERYONE who rides a bike. It's the same problem any minority faces.
Bikers have have people pull out infront of them too often, sometimes they get pissed...sometimes car drivers get pissed too.
Often riders who do ride in just tshirt and shorts don't have very much experience and don't take riding very seriously (only out on sunny days, only been riding for a short while), they don't last and go back to driving their SUV after they crash yet another bike that's too much for them to handle.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry that the OP had a bad encounter with someone who rides a motorcycle, but please don't classify all motorcycle riders as being "douchbags who do things without thinking."

I've been riding a motorcycle for nearly 40 years now, and I believe I behave as a positive role model for those who ride. I do drive a bit faster than I generally do in a car, at least on surface streets, but I never do so unsafely. I make every attempt to give cagers (those who drive in cars or trucks) the most room to maneuver and defer to them in lane changes and position.

I don't give way to cars because I'm timid, but because people who drive cars generally don't see enough of what's going on around them, and I assume that one will pull into my lane at random intervals. I can't tell you the number of times I've been riding with traffic, watching for others, and had someone in a car attempt to kill me by not watching where he was going.

While I also have a problem with the way a few of my fellow motorcycle riders behave, I also see plenty of responsible, safe riders out there. If truth be told, there are quite a few douchbag automobile drivers as well. Oddly enough, I find the nicer the car, the more inconsiderate the driver. I try not to stereotype, but...

Perhaps blowing your horn at someone right after you appeared to be trying to run him off the road provoked a reaction in him that is contrary to his usual nature? Perhaps your obvious prejudice against those who enjoy motorcycles caused you to act more aggressively after being "surprised" by the fact that someone was driving where you wanted to drive?

Why don't we try to get along with our fellow travelers, instead of blowing your horn at them and then calling them names afterwards, shall we?

Anonymous said...

What he said^^^^^^

Sky Bluesky said...

Dude, I blew my horn at him and then he hopped off his motorcycle and challenged me to a fistfight. I think I get to call him a name or two.

But I'll concede the point. Not all motorcyclists are douchebags. (That line was deliberately written to be absurd. I mean, come on! Did you really think I was taking a Hollywood screenplay as a deep statement on humanity?)

But someone who parks in the middle of the street and then tries to start a fight with a driver? Hell no. That is not acceptable behavior. I've been cut off plenty of times, and I have never not once gotten out of my car and started throwing blows. Not all motorcycle riders are assholes, but this guy definitely qualifies.