Since we had some crap weather heading our way, I arranged to have the Sponsor’s truck to drive to work and leave the Pirate at home. I was working nights and was not a happy camper when I was rudely ripped out of Dreamland not three hours after arriving by Mr. Slow’s announcement that he has to go to work early.I grumpily roll my tired self out of bed and throw on the first set of wrinkled clothes I find in the dark room. I am pre-coffee and not quite awake. As I shuffle down the hall to grab my phone I mumble something along the lines of an official refusal to drive. I stumble down the driveway and climb into the passenger side of the truck and off we go.
A while later, I am jarred out of my sluggish too-damn-early-for-this state of mind by the telltale noise of tires bouncing over the interstate’s rumble strip. What the hell? I look over at my husband eyes cast down, playing with his phone, which he is holding in his right hand resting on the center console.
“Are you freaking texting?!?”
He response: “No. I’m just checking something.”
That does it. “You should know better!” I’m incredulous. “I have to dodge assholes like that every time I go to work and you are one of THEM?!?”
“I wasn’t texting.”
Now I’m pissed. I try to snatch the phone out of his hand, he’s faster, but I’m more tenacious and finally succeed in grabbing his phone and shove it into the little space on my door handle.
“What the hell does it matter what you were doing?!? You are weaving all over the damn road! Texting fucking kills. What would you do if some asshole made your wife wreck herself? Or worse, kills her.”
He is starting to argue the point; I can see it in his body language. Then he finally hangs his head: “I’m sorry. You’re right. You are absolutely right. I’m a professional driver. I get overconfident when I’m in my own truck.”
“You do that shit when you’re driving in the big truck?”
“Hell, no! I can’t afford to.”
“You are forgiven. Don’t let it happen again. You know I’m gonna shred you on my blog, right?”
“You have every right to. I deserve it. I know better.”
So, I’m on my rocket propelled Samsonite, looking for an early morning with Miss Busa. Love of my life waiting for me (read as sleeping). So I’m westbound on I-20. There are three lanes of traffic. I’m in the granny lane, the license plate DOES read “Mr.Slow.” I see a white Lexus coming onto the interstate, so I move to the center lane to allow the car ease of entry. In other words, white paint transfer on my Connie won’t look very nice. See, I’m a nice driver: make room for others, mind my manners, all that bull shit that is about to go out the window.
Mr. Lexus, with the now visible aviator sunglass, decides that the granny lane is not good enough for him anymore. He wants my lane now. So without a glance at me, he comes on over. Of course I do notice this, mostly because I’m allergic to road rash. Screw that, I dodge to the hammer lane, and look dead at the guy. He must ‘feel’ me staring at him, because he looks at me and throws both hands into the air in the “WHAAAAT?” gesture.
That pissed me off a little, so I decide to show him what for! Ok, squid warning. I know that this makes no sense, but I’m really ticked off now. So I decide enough is enough, I pull my bike hard toward the Lexus piloted by the aviator sunglasses wearing, cool breeze jerk. I think I surprised him a little. Maybe. He pulls his luxury Toyota into the right lane, surprising me; then really astonishing me, he goes all the way to the shoulder. As I accelerate away, I’m laughing so hard, that I have tears running down my face.
The Lexus driver got back on the road, I made it home with a tale to tell: everyone happy. Just so no one is worried, no Lexus drivers were harmed during the making of this blog entry. If the bastard had pulled over, it may have had been different.
I must be a glutton for punishment, because there is no other reason for me to go play in traffic around 4pm to duke it out with the crazed Christmas shopper cager crowd. But that’s me. Hardcore. I don’t “plan around”. I was on a mission to exchange my DOA Jawbone BT earpiece for a new one and I had to get some gift cards for the teenagers on my Santa list. Yup, hardcore and procrastinator extraordinaire. I was burning up a clutch tooling down Washington Road at painfully slow speeds, practicing the Slow Race. For about a mile, I was riding the friction zone, with my feet up on the pegs, to see how slow I could actually go before the Fat Lady decided she might rather take an asphalt nap instead. I was so absorbed into the task that I neglected my mirrors. I know, I know. Situational awareness is everything. I shouldn’t be rolling down the street blissfully unaware of my surroundings. La-dee-da… Therefore, it came as a complete surprise when this blue sedan slowly eased up next to me in my lane space. I was riding the right wheel track, looking down the dashed white line, between the long lines of cars. The thought of white-lining it all the way to the next red light occurred to me briefly, but some of the vehicles where too offset to grant me safe passage. I fought the impulse to squid it on down the boulevard being the envy of every cager stuck in the jam without options. So, here I am, being squeezed by two old ladies in their old-lady car and am completely speechless. No, I’m not. I put my foot down. Literally. I had to or I would have fallen over, maybe I should have. Fallen over, I mean. Right into that shiny blue passenger door of theirs, with my helmeted face plastered against the glass. Heh. The good ideas always occur to me after the fact. I could have gotten myself some new Tupperware on the left, which is marred from that unfortunate incident of temporary dumbassery we’re not going to further mention here. Tupperware, a new stator cover, left side mirror, and throw in a new can on that side, too. A repair upgrade due to a ‘not-my-fault’ happenstance after the original fact. I can see it now… stating my case between sobs: “But officer, they nicked my mirror with theirs, scared the shit out of me and I fell over. I AM entitled to the entire lane, no?” with tears streaming down my face and the most innocent and sad Bambi look I could possibly muster without cracking up. Damn! Another missed opportunity… But I digress, so I’m sitting there, inches away from a mirror-to-mirror kiss and I can’t help but stare at them and yell something to the effect that I would like to know where they think they are going to go. The driver is saying something to her passenger and she rolls her window down. I flip up my shield and yell over my ear plugs and tunes: “You know that I am entitled to the ENTIRE width of my lane, right?” while animatedly waving a pointed right index finger in front of me, indicating the lane we were currently sharing, “Just like a car.” The driver is starting to look a little shocked. I almost feel sorry for her. Almost. I watch them talk animatedly, hands waving in the air. After they fall silent, I add: “You know, it’s stuff like this,” more finger waving, “that can get me killed!” I almost regret it as soon as the words leave my lips. Almost. They both now look very apologetic and a little bit shaken, the driver more so than her friend. I think I’ve made my point. I ease forward, power-walking The Fat Lady into a spot between them and the car in front of them. I don’t want to look at them anymore, because now I really do feel bad. And I’m sure they’ve had enough of me, too. I figured it’s better I move before somebody is having a heart attack. Why do I feel bad? Old age doesn’t excuse their behavior. Was it their body language that seemed to express honest apology? I’m sure the lesson was well received and they will never do this to another person on a motorcycle. But why am I not really all that enthused about it? Here I am complaining about all these driving-skill inhibited ass clowns and I finally score one for the home team, and it’s a hollow victory. Would I do it again? Affirmative! I’m not going to let stuff like that slide. I can’t help myself. I think it is imperative that other motorists understand that motorcycles need their space. That we are very vulnerable, considering we aren’t separated from potential disaster by the relative safety a car has to offer its occupants. That our only defenses against calamity are separation by distance, situational awareness of our surroundings and our riding skills.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
Or: What’s Mine Is Mine And What’s Yours Is Mine, Too
I’m coming to a slow civilized stop on the top of my exit’s off-ramp. It’s a two-lane. The right lane is for right turners and also serves as the outside left turn lane, and the left lane turns left onto a two-lane highway. You know, a standard multi-lane Interstate exit ramp, complete with traffic light. I’ve started using the outside lane at intersections like these, because I feel it’s safer although not nearly as much fun than the inside lane. Today, this theory of mine is proven faulty, at least partially.
I’m sitting there, waiting for the light to change. The lanes are filling up behind me. To my left is this huge white Ford F-350 extended cab, full-sized pickup truck. I think nothing of it, just take notice, since I can’t see anything to my left. Next to him I feel like a little kid on a mini-bike. The light changes, and since I can’t see anything I let the pickup move first, then I ease out into the intersection preparing to turn left. By the time we’re in the middle of the turn, I am leaned over and in the process of accelerating out, when I notice that monster of a truck fading into my lane. Holy shit! I have nowhere to go. There are cars behind me, cars behind him. I’m still in first, on the gas, and leaned over. If neither of us files a change in flight plans, my head and left shoulder are going to say hello to his passenger-side door. I’m searching for an out. Obviously a panic stop is out of the question, since the guy behind me is going to hump my rear, even if I had the room to straighten out the bike and lay on the skids. I could maybe slow enough and swerve left to squeak past the F-350’s rear end and the following car? Nope, no time nor room for that, and I might become a speed bump for the person who’s directly behind Mr. I-Need-Your-Lane-Too. As I straighten up the bike and let myself fade wide to stay out of the pickup’s path, hoping he’ll see me in time and cut back over into his lane, my frantically searching eyes momentarily lock onto the opposing edge of the road. There is the 4-foot wall of the bridge, with it’s obligatory suicide fence mounted on top, and the curb. Well, at least if I high-side into that I won’t get thrown over the bridge. In my mind’s eye, I see not my life flashing before my eyes, but the image of a cat stuck to a screen door. I want to puke, but all I can do is giggle at the image. I’m not scared (that usually comes later, when I’m out of the danger zone), I’m in this weird state where everything slows to a crawl. I’m in fight-or-flight time-lapse mode. Then I see it, as I’m still fascinated by the curb and my imaginary cat sliding down the imaginary screen door. The little guy on a bicycle, wearing what looks to be a dǒu lì (but is supposed to be a helmet), painted between two solid white lines. The newly added bicycle path. We make fun of this iconic dude of Chinese origin every time we come through here in the cage. Of course! I have found my out! And just in time, too, since the pickup is now very, VERY close. He’s invading my bubble, my personal space. I gotta get out of here and fast. I straighten out more, aim for the edge of the curb then throw The Fat Lady back to the left and twist it. I don’t know how close I came to being clipped by his front end. But I see him, in my mirror, now fully over in –what used to be — my lane, skirting the solid white line that marks the division between the car lane and the narrow lane dedicated to bicycles. I’m still in first gear, and The Fat Lady is roaring, I shift into second, not bothering with the clutch lever. I turn around to give dude the finger, I can’t help myself (I know, I know), and notice he has already – get this! — changed lanes again and is back over on the left. WTF??? I don’t know why, but now I’m pissed. If you wanted my lane this badly, at least you could give me the common courtesy of staying in it! You jackass! When I turn back around, I find myself practicing maximum-effort braking, since the light on the other side of the overpass has decided to inconveniently turn red. I come to a front-end diving squeaky stop at the line, in first gear, with both feet on the ground, with the lane-hogging bastard parked next to me. I give him THE LOOK, the entire time we’re sitting there I stare him down. I imagine smoke coming out of my ears and death-rays shooting from my eyes. When the light changes I give her hell and have a difficult time keeping the front end down. Damn. I must be pissed, because I can’t do that on purpose. I guess under normal non-road-raged circumstances my mind overrides the impulse of the wrist.
Same type of off-ramp/multi-lane road interchange. Same Interstate. Different exit. I’m on the inside left turn lane. A car is waiting to my right in the outside lane. The light changes to green. We both go, but apparently I must be slower than usual, since the car manages to overtake me and cuts directly in front of me. This isn’t a matter of inattention; this seems to be a deliberately executed lane change in the middle of the turn. Wow. I’m still musing on how this could have possibly happened. They must have really punched it. Pedal to the metal. Good gawd! No time to think. I briefly get on the brakes, as I straighten up, to scrub off a little speed and throw the Fat Lady into a right-hand swerve. I clear the car’s rear bumper (hmmm, Richmond County tags), then immediately push hard left. The Fat Lady responds to my input like an obese Tango dancer: slow to get started but graceful and precise in execution. We barely make it and are in the clear, now in the outside lane. Damn! Wrestling a ‘Busa around like this reminds me: I have to start going to the gym and hit the weights. I pace the car for a moment, looking at the driver. A Blonde, be-bopping to whatever is playing on her stereo, lost in her own little world. She looks at me, with a bemused expression, vague. She doesn’t even have the obligatory cell phone glued to her ear. I suppose the stereo is distraction enough. One has to know one’s limitations. Instead of indicating to her, that I think she’s No. 1, I simply shrug, lifting both hands up in the air in a WTF? gesture; then I get the hell out of Dodge at an accelerated pace, like I am apt to do after an ‘incident’. Frakkin’ people in this town don’t know how to drive.
Is A Good Offense The Best Defense?
I don’t know what it is that is so difficult about staying in your own lane. All you have to do is follow the little dashed line, and it’ll guide your automobile nicely around the curve and dump you onto your merry way. But no, your brain’s blocked or you simply don’t care. It is really getting tiresome. I tried the inside lane, I’ve tried the outside lane. There’s only one thing that I’ve found works to stay out of possible trouble: You have got to stay one step ahead of the lane-stealing cager crowd. Since they can’t catch up with a motorcycle, or outmaneuver one, it’s probably safest to just get the hell out of there before they even have the chance to roll over the stop line. And that’s a ton of fun, too. Just stay in the outside lane, in case you lose it… See, who says you can’t be a little bit squidly and be safe all at the same time? =P
I’m rolling down Robinson Avenue on my way home from work, minding my own business at speed limit (which happens to be a most inconvenient 35), thinking to myself that I’m actually quite the idiot for riding around in this fog at chilly temps, although it’s really not all that cold in the great weather scheme of things; my fingers tell a different story though. I’m grinning to myself as I notice that I am not the only moron commuting to work on this fine Georgia morning, there are four other bikers making their way to work or wherever, and all of them are going to be rewarded with one hell of an awesome late-November ride home in the PM, that’s for sure. 🙂 Anyway, I’m rolling past the cop shop when one of Grovetown’s Finest has the audacity to pull out directly in front of me, then stops in the middle of his turn, still in the opposing traffic’s lane, as he comes to the realization that he’s close to bagging himself a Peregrine Falcon, and it’s definitely not hunting season. I barely get by when he resumes his model-citizen behavior and glues his front bumper to my tail pipes. I can’t believe it! Holy hell, this douche is RIGHT ON MY ASS. He, of all people, should know better. I refrain from my usual shenanigans to shake a tailgater for fear he’s gonna interpret that as some sort of ticket-worthy offense, but I’m getting a little peeved. So, my question is this: Who’s gonna pull over the popo? Or better yet, how do you get the Dingleberry in Blue off your case, without netting a reckless driving or speeding violation. I dang sure aren’t going to pull over for you, Badge Boy!