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.