11.02.2006

learning and then changing behavior... that is our current evolution

learning then changing behavior
that is our current form of evolution
not everyone is evolving

as much as we may need an additional set of thumbs for our Blackberry or alternate text messaging device
I just do not think that we will experience that sort of evolution

no
we will not grow a third arm
so that we can always have an upper appendage in the right angle position holding a phone to our ear

no
we must suffer with two arms
forfeiting one of those arms for phone usage because were are too cheap to buy a cable at Radio Shack for 6.95
hands free technology is there...
but it goes unused... except for the Trekies with their Blue Tooth devices

I am evolving
I am growing
I am changing
inside
all the changes are happening inside

yesterday as I left from work I waited for the light to change so that I could cross the street in the crosswalk
in an impatient manner I did little circles
trying to time things such that when my Icon of the Walking Man started blink in white I could roll across the street and head my way home
on one of my final turns I saw that it was soon to be my turn
never taking my turn without waiting for things to be clear I watched for cars speeding down the block
always anticipating that there will be three or four cars pushing through that Red Light
with no concern of car or pedestrian traffic
just the need to progress forward at any or all costs

now...
I can not tell you if the light had turned yellow, red, or was still in the last second of green
but I did notice that there was an irrate driver behind the wheel leaning on the horn
cell phone in hand this driver honked impatiently at the car in front of him
again
I was not so focused on the behavior in front of me
as such behavior is so everyday that it hardly catches my attention
so I did not notice if the car in the lead had slowed for pedestrian traffic, had a stalled engine, or was unsure if they wanted to proceed left or straight
all I knew was that this person behind them was in a rush and letting the world know this by honking their horn

so when my little circle on my cycle brought me facing the direction of traffic I caught a glance of the man in the little blue car with the honking horn and cell phone in hand
I recognized him...
I had experienced his rushed behavior before
it is a story for another day...
but I will tell some basics

months before I was getting married I was out walking the dogs with my then girlfriend now wife
we were going on an unusual out of the ordinary path
not the usual woods loop
but a more urban bike path trajectory on foot with the dogs at our side
the day was rainy and cold
we were a tad stressed as the property we lived in was being shown to be sold

when in a crosswalk in Rock Creek Park going across Calvert Street we moved briskly across the road when there was space between the obnoxiously fast cars

the uphill traffic was speeding down towards me
there was a car going well faster than the recommended 25 MPH limit
as they got closer they leaned on their horn
as I stepped off the crosswalk onto the side of the street they swerved towards me
in an impluse reaction I gave the car a little kick
until this point in my life I had never kicked a car before

in short
the car pulled over
the car was dented
the man was irrate
there was a large dent that looked like a motorcycle had t-bone the vehicle at high speed
to my dismay
there was an officer 20 yards away who saw.... not the whole thing
but the kick

I was arrested and put in jail for the day for processing

the ugliness continued
there were fines/penalties/court dates/more court dates/and community service
it was a humbling experience
it was a learning experience
I evolved from that experience
I learned that my behavior was wrong

while society...
well
society never saw my side of things
society never told this driver that his speeding or his aggression was inappropriate or wrong
I grew from that experience
I am humbled by that experience
I am nothing short of embarressed by that experience
if I had a time machine would I go back in time and alter that experience from my history?
no... i would use that time machine for a greater good
like buying AOL or Windows Stock early on
but... I have altered my behavior
I have controled my behavior
I have tried to be more an animal of thought rather than an animal of reaction

while this driver...
I am not sure if his hand is glued to the steering wheel with no other function other than honking the horn
but
in the two situations I have seen him behind the wheel he has proven to be an very tense driver with no concern for anyone but himself
no... it is not fair to generalize about his driving behavior across the board from this experience
but
I delt with this man in the courts and since then
and well....
he never said anything about his understanding that pedestrians have rights
and that
cars need to slow down
no...
it is all about him

the story is long
and well
the story is painful
to really tell the story would force me to relive the emotions
I lack the energy to relive those emotions
that reactive action was a black cloud over my head
the outcome was not tradgic
but the outcome could have been tradgic
I could have been run down by the irrate driver
before or after the kick
the driver could have been a gun totting psycho-path
seeking justice after the kick

things could have played out differently across the board

sadly...
things could have been different
the officer could have not been there 20 yards away issueing a ticket
not there to see the kick and the dent
and well
I could have gone on my way
but
that is not the way it happened

the way things happened is part of my education
part of my understanding of traffic and human interaction on the road
I am a better person for my failures
as for this guy...
I do not think he ever saw that he was in the wrong
even if he charged me and my two dogs with no concern for the wet roads and his reaction time
he was just in a rush to get where he was going
and the sucker outside on the street was in his way

that is a problematic stretch of road
each and every day there are runners, walkers, and cyclists at risk
at risk because of the over inflated sense of importance that people get behind the wheel


7 comments:

grrsh said...

that is very unfortunate. the way most people drive is criminal. it would be nice to see the law enforced more consistently. sorry to hear about this.

grrsh said...

i read this a little more closely -- i thought this was a NEW story...i can't keep up with the gwadzilla pulp fiction.

gwadzilla said...

seeing the guy was a new story

kicking the car was an old story
nearly a decade ago

Bryn said...

I can relate, completely. To being reactionary and hot tempered. To acting out violently and negatively. To getting in lots of trouble for it, being embarrassed, and trying to change your ways. I can totally relate. I'm still trying to change my ways though, for sure.

A couple of years ago (May '04, I think) a cab cut me off and I yelled at him. He swerved and hit me, crushed the rear end of my bike and took off. He got caught at a light (16th and M), I caught up to him on foot, smashed all the windows and the windshield, caved in the roof and the hood. I generally went apeshit on his crown vic. I spent the night in jail on one count of felony destruction of property, but the case got dismissed the next day. Who knows why it got dismissed.

September '04, a cab cuts me off, I yell at him, he deliberately hits me with his cab, crushes the rear end of my bike, and rolls off. Deja vu. This time, I retreat to the sidewalk and collect myself, call the cops, collect phone numbers from witnesses, file a police report, and catch a ride to the hospital to get my grotesquely swollen knee looked at. The hit'n'run cop calls me back (nearly three months later) and says the cops found the cabbie. The cops decide not to press charges against the cabbie because he claims that I chased after him and menaced him (which sort of runs contrary to me lying on the sidewalk clutching a busted knee, but whatever). To this day, I still see that cabby. I just stay clear and don't get in front of him.

I'm still trying to change. When confrontations happen (and they do, inevitably, when bikes and cars have to share space in this town), I think about what possible consequences it might lead to. Me in jail for a night or for a year? Apathetic cops failing to deal with the problems at hand? Some desperately poor cabbie losing his job because his crown vic is utterly destroyed or because he can't afford insurance?

Breathe deep, all that shit. The stress, the frustration, it takes years off of our lives. I think about how we probably only get so many heartbeats in our lifetime, and every time we get pissed off and our heart rate increases, all those heartbeats add up and we're just losing time.

Does this even count as a comment anymore? It's 5am and I just got off of work and I need to go to sleep. Take it easy Joel. See you in the streets.

gwadzilla said...

glad you are controling your actions and your thoughts and your anger

you are a healthy young man
it would not be fair for you to take a bite of some geriatric desk jockey

that said

at lunch the other day I saw a burly bearded messenger and a gentleman in a SAAB

it was at 20th and M Street

it looked like Ghandi trying to pick a fight

I stood to the side and watched
it did not appear that it was escallating
and well
I am not sure if you need "my back" as I a more poodle than pit bull

then as I thought it dispelled
the car was parking on 20th

I was already headed back to work

not sure what developed

hope it was a family reunion and not family feud

I have an memory of an incident including me at that same corner over a decade ago

car drivers and bikers
the conversations between the two minds is as productive as a Pro Choicer and a Pro Lifer

one is enlightened with a brain of thought and understanding

while the other is as dumb and as stubborn as a mule

Bryn said...

not fight-picking. I was committing that guy's facial features and license plate # to memory, in case I had to fill in the details on a police report later on. He was one of the scarier drivers I've ever seen. A while back, I would've tried to headbutt some part of his car. See, I'm reformed!

gwadzilla said...

my incident from over a decade ago at that intersection involved me headbutting someone

well
I slammed my head against his head and pushed him backwards

hard to explain
even more difficult to justify