sometimes I feel like a cutter

somedays I feel like a cutter
today was one of those days

some conversations are best to be avoided...
I am not so good at avoiding these conversations

if I see someone parking in front of the hydrant by my house
I go out my front door and politely alert them to the presence of the hydrant
they know there is a hydrant there
they do not care
only after my request do they make a token expression of shock and surprise
as they curse under their breath without dropping the smile
they usually move their car
but often they have some rational for parking there
even if there is a legal space down the block

come on... whether in thailand or switzerland
I think I would know not to park in front of a hydrant

there are other converstations that I get involved with that I should clearly avoid
those that I see dumping trash or yard clippings in the woods or the park...

if I see them while this is happening
I approach them and explain things
no dumping in the park and such
whistle blowing is not my style
so rather than calling the authorities I try to handle these things in a civil manner
well... these things seldom go civily

usually these people have already anticipated getting busted
they know that they are wrong
they are ready to argue that they are right
so it becomes a debate
usually a debate where no one wins and any chance of future friendship may be lost
it is a discussion that should be avoided

politics and religion are other topics I should avoid
as my perspectives on these topics may not be on the same page as all of those around me
yet... I foolishly touch on these topics with strangers and friends

yesterday while on my ride home from work I passed through some sections of woods on my mountain bike
I see the signs
I know the rules
but just like the car that sees the speed limit sign... I have decided to modify that law to meet my personal needs
bending... not breaking
always remaining safe as well as courteous
unlike the cars who break the law with no concern for those around them
breaking the law... well beyond bending them

in the woods I yeilded to others on the trail
pausing and sharing friendly hellos with hikers and dog walkers as I passed

one set of dog walkers with an assortment of dogs caused me to stop
their dogs were every which way
some on leash
some off leash
those on leash were on the long retractable leads

I pulled over to the side and allowed them to pass
as they passed they gave me a reminder of the no bikes sign
a sign that I am completely aware of

action and reaction
rather than tipping my hat and wishing the ladies a good afternoon
I accepted her statement and gave a short friendly calm rebutal
"I find it odd that a person with their dog off leash would be concerned with the whether those around them were following the laws when it is clear that the law states that dogs must be leashed in the park"
a modification of my biblical... "let he who is without sin cast the first stone"
in an effort to avoid that awkard topic of religon

with some dogs leashed and some dogs off leash it was hard to see what was whose
the long lead is also in violation of the leash law
so I added that
these ideas were not taken well... the microscope was intended for my actions... not theirs

the conversation blurred
there was discussion about errosion and impact of bicycles
and placid good times
I was under attack
of course... the dog owners were in heavy contradiction of their own statements
barking leashless dogs can be more bothersome than bicycles
I own many bicycles... none of my bikes have ever bitten anyone
nor have they barked at a passing stranger
more people are phobic of dogs than of bicycles
and the dogs off leash... they harass animals in the park as well as widening the trails and breaking down vegetation off trail

it was a two minute conversation
a conversation to which I stayed calm as the woman on the other end got louder
I had forgotten that getting louder reminds the other party that they are less right
they were more loud
which means they must have been more right

continued on my way
my short cross town carless way
when I slowed and stalled for a runner
I recognized the runner
a runner I had seen some days prior
this runner that had previously chanted no bikes no bikes as we passed days prior

stopped on the trailside waiting for the runner to make his pass
he slowed and we made eye contact
his first words may have been... "you are an asshole"
not the afternoon greeting I expected but I greeted him with a "hello again" just the same

I pulled my glasses from my face and made friendly eye contact
we spoke
we discussed the law and concepts of common sense and common courtesy
he stopped his digital watch and gave the converstaion his main attention
we talked about the car traffic
an effort to get away from it all
an effort to get home safely
an effort to get some exercise after work

we talked about the impact of the bicycle on the dry hard packed
we talked about trail maintenance

it was a friendly intellectual discussion
minds may not have been changed
but there was a bit more acceptance
he still did not want the bikes on the trail
yet he understood things a little better from my perspective

he understood my feelings of frustration of there being no safe place for a cyclist to ride
I did not get heavy handed with the way that the bicycle has to risk it all to take its space on the street
but he did understand that rush hour traffic can be unyeilding to bicycle and pedestrian traffic

it was a good encounter
far different from the encounter held moments earlier
perhaps more how I wished the early conversation had gone
rather than becoming a near confrontation
in this encounter I gained some ground
in the prior encounter I increased the advisarial relationship

my ride continued
the ride was short as I did not care to contend with my slowly slipping seat post
the jamis exile feels small enough without the desired modifications of bars and stem
the slipping seat post made this monster of a bike seem diminutive

I got home to the family
after a more creative than the standard "how was your day?" with the kids
I got an art show of all the work that the boys had brought home
it feels good to make my boys feel proud of what they created
some interest.... some questions... some attention
we all like that... especially if we worked hard on something

grant had agreed to go hiking with me and the dog
but bailed as I started to take out the trash
as he saw that neither dean nor mommy were joining me on the dog walk

I went into the woods and dragged some logs around
tried to clean up some of the wasteland that is the park behind my house
a wasteland not created by cyclist
but by neglect
and by years and years of walkers and runner stomping wider and wider
on what could be a trail but turns out to be dead earth as wide as a road

I pick up trash
I do official and unofficial trail maintenance
I am courteous of others while on the trails
whether on foot, with my dog, or on my bike
and when in my car
common sense and courtesy

much like others who bend or break the rules to suit their needs
I have my rebutal preloaded for an attack

these times are a bit of a prohibition for the bicycle
as my rights are not granted
I take what I get
on the street and on dirt
nothing is given to me
the laws are there... but seldom do they protect the urban cyclist
the urban cyclist is a bit of a renegade
more often punished than protected

if the streets were more safe for the bicyclist
I would feel more shame for my occassional dip into the woods
since my life is at risk on the streets
I feel that the risk of aggitating a hiker, a runner, or a dog walker outweighs the level to which it aggitates me to have my life within an inch of death as each car makes dangerous passes to me on my bike... too fast and too close

off my soap box and back to work


Lee said...

Nothing wrong with being a Cutter!

gwadzilla said...

there is nothing wrong with being a CUTTER

it is just how people look down on us

damn college kids!

gwadzilla said...

I think Lee may have read this before the words of the post were added

sydney_b said...

Keep on speakin' up. I do it too. One of the problems of our society is that so many do not speak up. In fact, I'm well known for telling other people's kids to be quiet and "no" - a word seemingly foreign to many. :)

Roald said...

The sad thing is that most people are only concerned about what impacts them and not a thing about how others are affected. Hopefully at some point the famous words by "Rodney King" may come into affect along the trails, "can't we all just get along", or maybe we should just be like the dogs and move along our happy way oblivious to the plights of others and only worried about the aromas in the air, what is around the next bend, and marking the territory (OK, we can leave that one out).