Friday, July 20, 2012

mind your manners

Conveniently located across from the over-priced Stanford Mall is a (also over-priced) retirement-senior living complex called Vi.  [Ob.joke: Emacs is up the street and it's more feature rich but will set you back additional memory.] I've had my hassles with the elderly folks of Vi.  Some of them bicycle but way more of them drive behemoth cars and stop for no person and bicycle lanes?  Those skinny little things?  Clearly it's the part of the road designated for over-sized loads, right?  So yes.  I get it.  Old people can be annoying. 

Yet even so most of us agree that certain proprieties should always be observed, and one of these is that it is not okay to threaten to run over Grandma when she doesn't move out of your way fast enough.

The Contraption Captain and I were at a red light.  Grandma, a skinny bent little old lady with a poof of white hair was positioned on the far side of the intersection from us.  Grandma begins to make her slow somewhat tremulous way across the street.  She is about halfway across when she encounters a problem that plagues California bicyclists at a variety of triggered lights, specifically, the light had not been timed for her speed and so it turns green before she has completed traversing the road.  Welcome to our world, Grandma!

Traditionally people wait for grandmas to complete crossing the intersection in these circumstances but the car to our left must have been in a hurry because her car jumped forward the moment the light turned.  Grandma, no fool, tried to hustle.  Watching a bent 80-year-old lady try to run is not a very happy sight in my humble crabby opinion.  I know you'll be excited to hear that the sedan decided not to run her over.  Speaking for myself and the Contraption Captain, we don't like starting our day off with an ambulance and a police report. 

So after this is over and Grandma heads home for a scotch-whiskey Contraption Captain and I start pedalling up the street and I say, "Wow, did you see that guy nearly take out that grandma??"
Contraption shakes his head.  "That wasn't a guy, that was another old lady.  It was one old lady nearly taking out another old lady."
I think he's wrong, I'm sure it was a younger guy with stubble and I say so.  Fortunately, there is a second red light half the way up the next block and Mr or Mrs "I am in such a hurry to get to the next red light that I'd kill grandma to do it" is waiting there.  "Good news, Captain!  We can check."

We pull up and peer into the open window of the car.  I start laughing.  "Well, it's not a guy."
Contraption Captain is smug.  "It's an old woman."
I shake my head, "That woman is not old.  She's middle-aged."

By this time we have attracted the attention of the driver of the sedan.  She listens to us debate whether she looks more like a man or more like an old woman and then rolls up her window.  I consider her face.  I decide that with a scowl like that you really do end up looking like an angry old guy wearing a dress.

The moral of the story:  In a town with a lot of bicyclists and a lot of traffic lights, there is a high degree of confidence that one of us will notice if you drive like an asshat.  Unless you want to be mocked and discussed through the next three intersections, cool your jets and let Grandma cross in front of you in peace.

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