Friday, March 23, 2012

every time I see you cry makes me smile.

Sometimes, after the kids go to bed the Contraption Captain mixes up lychee martinis and we cue up a nice movie and nibble chocolate and stay up way too late and have a great time.  Basically, it's exactly as Rapunzel and Sparkle Pony suspect:  they miss out on some good times when they allow themselves to be tucked in for the night at a civilized hour.

In the same way, the cars suspect that I'm smirking when they're having a bad time.  Unless the cars are doing something to make me mad I don't show anything on my face but here I will admit that I am probably even more amused by their misfortune than they suspect.  When I see their fender benders?  When they are stuck watching the light change red to green to red again and nothing is moving?  When I see that there's been an accident on the 101 and no one is going anywhere?  When they can't find a place to park?  Yeah, it's true.  I smile.

Today I am pedaling up Bryant Street and it's a little windy and I'm staring way up ahead to see where the traffic light at Oregon Expressway is at and I notice something.  I squint a little.  Is that a cop car?  Yes.  Yes it is a cop car waiting on the wrong side of the street.  What are those policemen doing I wonder.

I come to a complete stop at the 4-way of California and Bryant.  A BMW shrieks up behind me and hits the brakes.  I pretend not to notice.  I look carefully to the left and the right.  No one there.  It is safe to go!  "It is safe to go" I confide to the BMW.


I roll through the intersection.  BMW does not, I note in my mirror, come to the line and make a complete stop.  He rolls right along behind me and now he wants to get past me.


Unfortunately (for both of us really) the BMWs endless companions (those things breed like rabbits) are parked up and down both sides of the street so there is not a lot of room to get around seeing as I am no Danny MacAskill and I can't bicycle over the legion of parked cars.  "No matter" I say cheerfully to the BMW "the intersection is a bare block ahead and the light is red!"

The BMW can't take anymore.  I just hear a low moan of anguish.

The BMW decides to go around me.  "I MUST GO AROUND."

Me:  "Sure thing, BMW.  But really, I think you should just wait for the intersection."

Vrooooooooooom.  The BMW is heading up the lane for oncoming traffic.  "Look!" says the BMW "I am taking a lane!"

Me:  "Ummmmmm."

Up ahead, one of the two police cars finish with whatever Palo Alto police business he was conducting and pulls his black and white out into the road putting him on a collision course with the BMW.  I watch with interest.  "Commuting" I think to myself  "is never boring."

BMW "Out of my way!  I am taking this lane!"

Police car:  "The fuck?"

Initially I think that the BMW will not yield but then the little light on the police car comes on and the BMW shows signs of realizing that he may have over-stepped.  The BMW shrinks back into my lane, an area of my lane, I am grateful to say, that I am not in.  The police car's whirling light stays resolutely on and as I roll up to the intersection I see the BMW pulling over for the inevitable ass-kicking and expensive ticket and insurance points.

Me?  I wait for the light to turn green and then I continue on to work and later I write this and, it is true, I smile.


  1. I think I've commented before on here on the mystery of motorists' determination to pass cyclists even when, for example, the cyclist is going faster. The British police are less apt to hand out traffic tickets than their US counterparts, so I never really get this kind of satisfaction. But I also don't get much of the low-level police harassment that cyclists seem to get in the City Built on a Hill.

    The arrival of the police car in this scene sounds about as appropriate and satisfying as the moment Woody Allen hauls in Marshall McLuhan in to sort out the cinema queue argument in Annie Hall.

    My theories on motorists' need to pass are here: