Last week was, as you know, the week Pope Francis visited DC. At mid-week also occurred Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, when persons of Jewish faith contemplate their sins of the past year, ask God’s forgiveness, and vow to do better in the coming year. Between these two major religious events, it seemed to me that virtually everyone in town was on their best behavior. On the days I went to work, which luckily is in my own neighborhood(so no traffic issues for me), I noticed fewer cyclists and even those were stopping at red lights and generally not riding on the sidewalk. It was truly a blessed week.
But, of course, nothing that good can last for long. Tuesday morning, my first day at work this week, I met up with an aggressive sidewalk biker just before the corner of 17th and Q. Perhaps lulled by last week’s peaceful days, while I remembered to look both ways and behind me when I stopped at the kiosks to get the Express and the Examiner, I started to step back into the main sidewalk toward the corner without thinking and then I saw him. A scruffy looking biker racing up the handicapped cut at the corner, through people waiting and then right past me on the slim sidewalk outside the outdoor part of the coffee shop there.
I did not shout, but when I’m suddenly surprised like that, I do say something, almost involuntarily. And I said “stupid jackass sidewalk biker”. But I only said it in a normal, non-shouting voice. Ah, But this guy heard it. And what’s more, my guess is that he’s been called out before, because, as I proceeded to the corner, he yelled after me, “Ma-am, Ma-am” until I turned around. Then he said,” I don’t like being called a jackass. It’s legal for me to ride on the sidewalk outside the Central Business District.” I said “There’s a bike lane going your direction on Q, why not use that?.” His answer really got me–“Did I impede you in any way?” “Impede” Who uses that in this kind of confrontation except a lawyer? Anyway I decided it was worthless and had to get to work, so I didn’t answer and started to proceed to the corner to cross. He called after me–“Answer the question!” Ah, yes, a lawyer, for sure. But a bad one. There are lots of good lawyers in town and they don’t go out of their way to pick fights. But now this bozo had an audience of the people sitting in the outside portion of the coffee house, some of whom might be my neighbors,so I figured I had to say something. I answered by saying “If I had taken one more step forward you were riding too fast to have avoided hitting me.” He yelled something back that I didn’t understand but I was sure it wasn’t nice. So I did finally yell, “Listen, I’ve been hit by one of you jackals before, you don’t belong on the sidewalk. Be man enough to ride in the street.” The light changed and I started across, my peace of mind ruined, when I heard him yelling some more unintelligible garbage and finally, the last refuge of the scoundrel, a really surly “Have a nice day.” You ever notice how many people say that in anger?
Well this post has gone on a little longer than I’d intended. And I do have some links to give you. But let’s leave that for next time, which I promise will be next week, come hell or high water(the latter a distinct possibility this weekend). Meanwhile, especially since the weather will be wet this weekend, watch out when you’re stepping around puddles. There may be a sidewalk biker racing behind you with his umbrella in one hand (honest, I saw, not one but two of these yo-yo’s yesterday. So, STAY ALERT! DON’T GET HURT!