Me and Jackie O

Let there be no confusion, I am an (well not an) advocate and (but most definitely an) ally (in the most generous definition of the word) of any and every person who decides to take to the streets on a bicycle. The commitment to clean air, the ozone layer, reducing gridlock and personal health are examples to us all. I believe that all major cities that are worth a damn, should have dedicated bike lanes so that bike riders and even bicycle cops can move about the city safely.

So it saddens my heart when a member of the biking community doesn’t feel like I have their best interests and safety in mind. Take for instance this lady I may or may not have almost run into yesterday.

I’m taking a short cut home to avoid some of the traffic of rush hour. I’m cutting through a fairly nice neighborhood by Rice University. It’s a neighborhood, so there’s practically a stop sign at every other intersection. Being the attentive and courteous driver that I am, I note and obey each traffic sign without taking in to much scenery.

So imagine my surprise when I see this Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis wannabe riding some vintage bike, with her big shades, and scarf waving behind her head glide into the intersection with no cares needed. I had to stop short, as I was pulling into the intersection after being stopped at a stop sign to avoid an accident.

She wrinkled her brow and turned right onto the street I was heading down all in one clean motion. I watched her pull to the side and prepared to hear some obscenities hurled at me. My windows were already down, as I was playing something belligerent at volumes not really acceptable for a man my age, but I rolled by and overheard her say something about “YOU HAD THE STOP SIGN!”.

I was emotionally confused for several reasons:

– I could have hit and severely injured and possibly killed this woman.
– I could have just injured this woman.
– My cat like reflexes allowed me press the brake in time.
– I just saved this woman’s life.
– Was this my fault?
– Or did she just roll through the intersection all willy nilly?
– Why is she screaming at me?

You’re right Jackie O, I did have the stop sign, and I had the feeling of wanting to tell her that I might not have seen her due to my inattentiveness behind the wheel, and that I was truly sorry for scaring you and almost ending your life, so when I spoke I tried to be as gentle as possible when I said, “SHUTUP!” and continued listening to whatever belligerent nonsense I was listening to before I almost ran into Jackie O.

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The Dropoff (Pause)

I don’t know about you, but I hate running late.  I can’t say that I always make it on time, but it is a daily aspiration of mine.  That being said, dropping the kids of to school in the morning is our most daunting challenge of the day.  In order to get everyone to school on time, somtimes sacrifices have to be made.  Breakfast frequently loses.  Also, a responsible amount of gas may be forgone in the interest of punctuality.  Minor traffic laws and defensive driving maneuvers are also to be tossed aside if necessary when combatting the tardy bell. 

In general, my level of agitation is increased in the mornings while all of this is going on.  However, there is one thing that runs me EXTRA HOT while getting where we need to go.  Those of you familiar with this routine may recognize this part.  Typically, a school will have some sort of drop off spot for the kids.  Semi-circle driveway, one way traffic, cars move in, kids get out, cars move out.  This process works as smoothely  as can be expected.  Kids are slow to get out.  Every morning they seem surprised and unprepared to leave the car.  Sometimes it’s the kids fault.  Other times it’s the parents fault. (lunch money, jacket left behind, donut on the way out, last minute motivational speech…who knows)  It’s all part of the process. 

Here’s what is unnecessary; kid has everything (lunch money in pocket, donut in hand, jacket on back, goodbye kiss firmly smacked) and is on the way to the door.  What does the parent do? They pause.  Precious seconds slip by as we all watch Jon Jon’s waterhead bobble all the way up to the school door.  I hate Jon Jon.  It’s residual though, because even more so, I hate Jon Jon’s parent.  Jon Jon is gonna be fine those forty or so paces to the school door.  I understand that his big waterhead might make him prone to tipping over and busting his skull wide open. But the kid has potential.  Watching him all the way to the school door isn’t going to stop some life altering tragedy from happening.  Trust me, nobody else wants your kid.  So show a little faith, and more importantly get the h-e-double hockey sticks out the way!