A few mornings back the Contraption Captain snorted up some of his morning coffee. I looked up. He informed me that a bicyclist had shot and killed someone. I looked over and read the story which described a 65 year old bicyclist who gets pulled off his bicycle by three teens who proceed to assault him and then he takes out a handgun and shoots two of them killing one. I laughed but then felt ashamed for laughing because one person was dead and another in the hospital but then I laughed again and then was sorry again lather rinse repeat.
Teenagers do a lot of stupid things, I know because I was a teenager and I did stupid things. Decades later I still do stupid things whereas my understanding is that it's more typical to grow out of your stupid phase. But here it is, even at the height of my stupid powers I never assaulted anyone of any age. I think we'll credit my parents with raising me to be a non-assaulter of 65 year old humans and call me fortunate. I assume my daughters will do stupid things as teenagers and like other parents I hope (desperately) that they won't do anything so stupid that it causes lasting harm.
Later that day at work, I showed the story to two friends, both of whom happen to be bicyclists and if it matters, both of whom happen to be better engineers. One of them (the guy with the Trek Madone that I secretly covet but which I will not assault him to acquire thanks mom and dad) has done a bunch of work in Iraq so we'll work on the assumption that he knows about conflict. Both were absolutely horrified by the story and entirely unsympathetic to the bicyclist. They very much disapproved of the bicyclist shooting the teenagers and I was suitably chastened and informed by their higher ground. The one (Trek Madone guy) said seriously "How can anyone learn anything from this? He's dead. No one will not assault a bicyclist because of this." His words resonated and I really think he's right, there is no lesson for anyone else here, and someone quite young is dead and another badly injured.
I continued to be not entirely sorry despite my best efforts. I thought about why the story resonated so much and why it was so meaningful to me that this guy, not much younger than my dad (and remember I am older than dirt) had turned the tables on these teenagers.
I liked it because bicyclists are bullied on a near daily basis. Because as a bicyclist I am out there with my twenty-five or so pounds of bicycle and my ugly helmet and my tiny rear-view mirror and nothing else. Because if you want to grab us and pull us down you can and we fall and it hurts and then you can start kicking us. Because when a car does not "see" us it makes it ok to hit us and kill us and then it's just an "unfortunate accident." Because of all of this and more, when I heard that three teenagers had pulled a bicyclist down and assaulted him and the bicyclist had taken out a gun and shot two of them?
I wasn't as sorry as I should have been.