Run Don’t Walk

There are many things that frustrate me about driving in Seattle, however a large number of the pedestrians and cyclists are quite possibly the most foul of these irritants.

Natalia Goncharova. "Cyclist", 1913.

Natalia Goncharova. “Cyclist”, 1913.

Before I rip into these bastards, let me just say that I do admire people who walk or bike for exercise or environmental reasons. If I lived a reasonable distance from my place of employment, no doubt I would be one of them. Nonetheless, I would like to think that using my feet rather than a combustion engine wouldn’t give me delusions of superiority or an attitude of “Oh, they’ll stop for me”.  People always remind me that “Pedestrians have the right of way!” and I agree that they should; they are people and not lumbering machines…but a “right of way” does not equate to a cloak of invincibility or exemption from the law.

I cannot tell you how many times I have stopped at an intersection with a green light because people expect the cars to come screeching to a halt due to their divine presence on the concrete. It’s like they don’t even think they need to wait for the WALK sign to appear. Just today, a light went from red to green and I sat there while an able-bodied gentleman basically strolled slowly across the street as if someone had paved his path with rose petals and his naked feet were enjoying their silky, generous touch. When I cross an intersection (ahem, when I have a WALK signal), I try to do so with ample speed as I know I am basically crossing “The Pathway of Death” and at any moment an out of control vehicle could come barreling down on my position. The only exceptions I make here are for the elderly, small children and the handicapped.  Anyone else strolling through my green light clearly has a death wish.

As for a select number of cyclists, it’s a similar story. I was always under the impression that if you are on a bike, it’s the same as being on a motorcycle: you signal when turning, you stop at red lights, you allow faster-moving traffic to pass you (when possible). Well, apparently I was living in a dreamworld this whole time. The other day I was WALKING to a restaurant in my neighborhood and I stopped at an empty intersection (save for 1 bicyclist coming down the street). Since he was nearly a block away, I assumed he’d see me arriving at the corner (where there was a lovely scarlet STOP sign waiting for his ass) and slow his momentum. Well, needless to say he didn’t stop at all (or slow down), and he damn near hit me at top speed. As he ran the stop sign he just shouted, “Sorry bro!” and sailed past.

It was so close, I felt a brush of wind that I imagined was just your standard rudeness at high velocity.

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Frustration is the Mother of (Improper) Invention

Being in Seattle traffic is one of many situations which can instantly put me in a sour mood. People drive way too slow, fail to use signals, and basically change lanes at will even if there is no second lane to change into. I realize people always say the drivers in their city suck, but here they really do. The only nice bone I can throw them is that they usually let you in if you use your signal (when merging). Other than that, they are oblivious to the world around them and drive like their windshield is a cloudy fishbowl.

Today, I had the benefit of witnessing some moron attempt a three-point turn in a major intersection during rush hour traffic. It was like watching a village idiot perform on a unicycle. Rather than take the logical route of completing his normal turn through the intersection and correcting his mistake by turning off somewhere down that road and coming back, he decide it was in everyone’s best interests for him to stop mid-intersection and completely change course. This wasted the green light for everyone behind him (including myself) and totally mangled the scene for people trying to go around him.

The tectonic plates of frustration were moving in my head and I felt it was my duty to call this asshole out right in public. Throughout the entire process of rolling down my window, my heart (right now a bloody beast of hatred if ever there was one) and my mind (a steely diplomat of proportional reasoning) began negotiating the slur I would use. The Beastly Heart dug through the den of vocabulary and decided that “Dumb fuck!!” was apropos for this vehicular douchebaggery. The insult was heavy-handed and had a metal club-like quality with its guttural vowel-consonant combo. The Diplomatic Brain (also incensed but to a lesser degree) thought the infraction wasn’t deserving of such harsh language and instead offered, “Jack ass!!” These two went at it for several seconds before the window was completely rolled down and I yelled:

“You goddam JACK FUCK!”

My tongue decided there would be a compromise and unfortunately, the idiocy of this exclamation resonated through the intersection. Pedestrians waiting for a hero to convey the appropriate commentary for such a stupid traffic maneuver never saw the arrival of their knight in shining, verbal armor. Rather, they got an inexperienced squire who was ill-prepared for battle. Their faces were puzzled at my choice of words. Some of them laughed at me. Others look disgusted with their faces transmitting thoughts like, “You have a golden opportunity to spank this dumb fuck, and that’s all you got?”

I sheepishly tucked my head back in my window. Inadvertently, I had made myself look dumber than this fool – an act I thought impossible.