Crossed Paths

I guess it was bound to happen; sooner or later I’d cross paths with him again.

Or her.

Or them.

“Them” are the ones I really worry about, quite frankly. And “them” are the ones who screeched past me on Old 210 Highway a few days ago. I heard the roar coming up behind me just before the full can of beer hit me in the side, foam spraying everywhere, drenching me. My ribs were already aching even as the hilarity of their laughter faded away to nothing, the black truck barely in control and speeding up and over the hill before me.

Smelling of beer and fuming, I had the presence of mind to unclip before I began to stalk around, waiving my fist at the receding vehicle, and screaming at them like a madman. In my Walter Mitty imagination, I play back those events, two seconds morphing into minutes: in this version of the play back, the idiots hear my yells. They squeal to a stop and throw the truck into reverse, black smoke cascades off of the tires as the Ford roars backwards and stops just shy of me and my bike.

I, of course, don’t flinch. There are three of them, all Bubbas.

Bubba Number One looks at me through bleary eyes. “Whadjou say, bike boy?” Bubbas Number Two and Three simply snicker.

Unfazed, I look him straight in the eye and in my very best Rambo voice I insult his mother. The insult must be an intellectual challenge for him, which pleases me immensely for some perverse reason, because he pauses for a moment to think before responding.

“How’s about I just git out and kick yore ass, Smart Ass?” And with that said, all three Bubbas get out of the truck, me standing my ground, facing them down. Across the fence stands a farmer – funny that I haven’t noticed him in this imaginary reverie until he was needed. He is notably concerned about the situation and asks me if I want him to call the county sheriff’s department.

My voice now sounds like Clint Eastwood for some reason.

No, I say. Not yet. Give me two minutes, then call the cops. Then give me two more and call an ambulance. They’re gonna need one.

The Bubbas snicker again and advance on me. Too bad for them, really – but it was their call, their mistake. My frame pump balanced between my hands, my mind kicks into autopilot and like a computer plots out the sequence of events: who will go down first, next, and finally. I’m a black belt in the little known martial art of Zefal Kung Fu. They have no idea what’s about to happen.

But, of course, none of this happened at all – at least beyond the part where I stood in the road screaming at the truck in the distance. Had they turned around I would’ve had my ass handed to me on a platter. I did not have time to get a license plate number, so I’ve really no recourse whatsoever – other than to remind myself that despite the fact that 99.9% of the drivers in my area tend to be generous to a fault, there are still a few ninnies out there.

My jersey is washed and no longer smells of beer but my ribs still hurt, almost as much as my pride. My anger has simmered. (Somewhat.)

Be watchful. Stay safe out there.

And if you see a truck full of drunken Bubbas, let ‘em know me and my Zefal are watching.

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4 thoughts on “Crossed Paths

  1. Sorry to hear of your unpleasant encounter, Mark. It actually reminds me of a similar event I was witness to years ago.

    Back when I was in high school (’94-‘96), I lived on the fringes of untamed desert in Mesa, Arizona where I used to be heavily involved in running cross country and track for my school. Us band of brothers would pack together and go out on grueling runs in the heat, frequently running with nothing more than shoes and a pair of shorts. Being that Phoenix is nothing more than miles of sprawl and asphalt, we would inevitably run near roads of all kinds. We were running one evening around dusk and I remember the group being spread out a bit. Perhaps in 2 to 3 packs. I heard some commotion and turned around to see one of our guys down with others rushing to him. Turns out, an oncoming vehicle, traveling at least 45mph, hit him square in the bare chest with a “D” cell battery! Not only does the law of motion also say the battery was traveling at 45mph but to make matters even worse, this was our most fragile runner as he actually had heart surgery as a child. He was underdeveloped and small and ran so he could help strengthen his heart and body not because he was any good, really. Luckily, he was ok but quite a bit shaken with a nasty gash on his chest. Nobody got a very good look at the driver or the vehicle but it was after school had let out so we can only assume it was our peers.
    That story has stuck with me for almost two decades and I remember it vividly as we all realized that could have been any of us. It also could have been quite a bit worse too.
    So, again, I reiterate my sentiments of your experience and hope it was something that doesn’t happen again. Maybe someday, the driver and passengers will eventually realize what dipshits they were by pulling an imbecilic stunt such as that.

    • Thanks, Josh. It was a damn fool thing for them to do – they could’ve caught me squarely in the head instead of bruising my side. Worse still, this was right past a sports complex: I frequently see moms and kids bring their bikes out to the games so that they can venture out onto the normally quiet country road for a short ride… could’ve been one of them.

  2. Hi Mark,
    your story sounds quite horrible – all sorts of things might have happened, you falling off the bike, the presumably drunk driver not aiming his car carefully enough and hitting you – doesn´t bear thinking about.
    Some years ago I was nearly hit by a 2 litre coke bottle, half full, when out on the bike, so I did some thinking what the reasons might be for someone to commit unprovoked attempted manslaughter, grievous bodily harm at best.
    My idea was that those people are plain envious down inside their unconscious minds, envious at the cyclists´ closeness to nature, at the fun they have riding, perhaps sometimes even at them being environmetally friendlier than drivers and generally at cyclists being closer to human roots.
    This idea helped me to overcome the helpless feeling after the attack.

    • You may be quite correct, but we’ll probably never know for sure what it was, precisely, that motivated these guys to do something so stupid. Sometimes stupid people just do stupid things – perhaps they simply have no governor on their self control. In any event, their behavior was dangerous. I like how you’ve rationalized your similar experience; it seems like a healthy coping mechanism. I tend to rely upon a liberal dosage of sarcasm (which is, of course, a primary fuel for cartoonists like myself.)

      I’ve the day off today and plan to spend a few blissful hours pedaling a pleasant path – perhaps I’ll throw a book or sketchpad in my Carradice bag and relax next to a lake along the way. And perhaps my next posting will be somewhat more philosophical in nature… and certainly reflect upon a much more pleasant experience!

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