Friday, May 23, 2014

Hitch-slapped in the Hood

I once hitch-slapped (definition: to slap the hitch of, usually, an SUV) a $90,000 Land Rover that had nearly sucked me up into its dozer treads in its effort to ram the prestigious Four Seasons Hotel driveway in Georgetown.  Unlike so many other near-hits where the vehicle speeds off too quickly to respond, this monstrosity simply veered in front of me and stopped.  I slammed my brake (it was the era of fixies, so I only had one) and stopped myself with my hand on the rear window.

The driver didn't even turn around.  I could see massive shaded eyes staring straight ahead through the windscreen (that's what the 1% call windshields).  I could've left it at that, but when a car nearly flattens you, and then tends to not even notice it, you tend to be emotionally charged and you tend to want to be noticed.  I reared my mighty arm and gave a monstrous slap all up in that hitch!  WHAP!
"GO BACK TO GLEN BURNIE!" I uttered in Charles Heston-ian baritone, a phrase I say to every motor vehicle that dare impair my path.  The shaded princess in the front lept a foot from her plush, baby lamb leather seat.
Land Rover Approximating the Hitchslapping Victim
I was on my way.

But before I could safely escape, the window opened and out popped a Marie Antoinette-esque coiff above a face only possible in the age of face making; she unhinged a million-dollar jawbone and unleashed a dam of upper class, top-tier bile.  Oh, the gilded steaming turds of spa-softened, lapdog holding, 'hood rat parlance that came out of that never-sloppy-joe-eating mouth!

She definitely had vocal training, too, because her high F, 1%-er,  caterwauling did not fade until I was well across Rock Creek Park and into Foggy Bottom.

It made my day.  I still get a thrill from that memory.  I just wish my hand would have been covered with dog feces so I could have irreparably soiled her rolling monument of imperialism (Land Rover was, after all, the vehicle with which Africa was ruled under the British).

The thing is, I'm pretty sure it made her day too.  For once in her ultra-reach, Donald Stirling's wife life, she got to unleash some words rarely uttered on the charity polo grounds I assume she normally roams.

Part of the thrill of it was that (1) I had escaped death but also (2) I'd at least managed to scare the bejesus out of the person who nearly killed me.

I start with this little ditty because there's been a lot of talk about a video that captured a similar incident.

Motorist Road Rage on DC Bicycle Route from Evan Wilder on Vimeo.

Lots of comments about it over at the MABRA board.  Opinion is fairly balanced in support for the driver and the cyclists.

And that's crazy.  There's only false equivalency here.  There are cases where we should be imbalanced (e.g., in disputing Holocaust deniers), and this is one:  if you believe life is more important than property, you should support the cyclist.

There's no question that the cyclist, Evan Wilder, is a bit obnoxious.

That being said, Wilder is something of a crusader, and he's clearly looking for conflict with motorists.  Check out his twitter account where nearly all of his 143 post concern motorists endangering cyclists: pictures of drivers texting while driving, pictures of vehicles blocking bike lanes, and several videos of personal conflicts with drivers.

It goes on.  Dozens and dozens of pictures and videos showing motorists behaving badly.

Most of us deal with it by learning to ride defensively, by accepting the danger, and by accepting that our place on the roads is tenuous.  It is not an issue of legality.  It's an issue of surviving the complete disregard people in cars have for the lives of others.

There's good evidence that driving a car does turn us into assholes

In most of the instances Wilder documents, he's riding legally, but he's not exactly riding safely.  He doesn't expect the recklessness he should from drivers.  He doesn't seem to get it.

I think he'll probably get smeared under a Land Rover at some point, but I hope he doesn't.  Lord knows if we're ever to see safe streets, ones our kids can ride without fear, we're going to need a lot of Wilders.

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