Monday, August 11, 2008

you're a dick, ma'am.

Despite lacking basic human feelings and emotions, I'm surprisingly a very nice person. I discovered this last week on my way to work when I attempted to tell off a wayward driver who nearly sideswiped my sweet ass on Connecticut Avenue.

The spar started when this bitch started tailing me and honking. I'm not sure what she expected me to do as, unfortunately, my 1980 Peugeot is not a hover-bike (I know, I'm as surprised as you are). After turning quickly and giving her a rather poignant snarl of disdain, she decided to nearly take me out when she proceeded to narrowly swerve around me only to slam on her brakes at the red light causing a near-collision (as I was clearly planning to scofflaw that sh*t and barrel through last minute, because I'm skilled like that). Anyway, not only was I forced to slam on my brakes, but I literally ran into the back of her car, barely escaping major injury to my person and my bike. Understandably, I was a tad irked. And by "a tad irked," I mean "more angry than a pudgy little German boy whose computer games aren't loading fast enough." (OK, maybe not that angry...)

Anyway, while that whole experience may sound overwhelmingly negative (you know, nearly getting killed and all) there is a plus-side to this kind of incident: Cycling allows you free reign to flip the bird, scream expletives at people and generally act like a jackass. It's cathartic and lovely. Think about it, that kind of behavior gets you fired at work. On a bike, it makes you a badass.

Unless you're me, of course, which brings me to my point. I'm too f*cking nice.

What should've happened in this situation is me keying her car. But no. My Midwestern upbringing would not allow it. Instead, after gaining my composure, I simply swerved around to her driver's side door, knocked on her window to get her attention and enunciated with great effort the words, "You're a dick." Now, this would have been slightly awesome if I didn't add one more word to that statement of fact -- "ma'am."

"You're a dick, ma'am."

Yeah. All of my accumulated badassery (even if there wasn't that much to begin with -- thanks Minnesota) vanished at that very moment. In fact, I'm pretty sure the pedestrians, including the children, crossing the street in front of me reacted with shock followed by laughter. "Did she just say 'ma'am'?" I swear one of them asked.

Yes. Yes I did. I said, "You're a dick, ma'am."

What was I thinking?! I mean, seriously, it's like reading a Shakespearean sonnet and adding "or whatever" at the end. It's retarded. I'm retarded.

But more than that, I'm disappointed. If there's any group of people with whom it's not just OK, but almost required to verbally spar and swear at, it's obnoxious drivers -- and that goes not just for cyclist-driver sparring, but for driver-driver and pedestrian-driver, as well.

For some reason, and I think this phenomenon is especially prevalent on the East Coast, it's perfectly acceptable, and sometimes even encouraged, to completely lose your composure on the road. I never really knew of the satisfaction of flipping a really good bird to a driver until I moved out here and started bike-commuting.

Growing up in Minnesota (the last place I used a bicycle on a regular basis), I never had a lot of drivers creepin' up on my sweet ass, honking incessantly, cutting me off and dangerously slamming on their brakes. Then again, I was 14 years old and it's bad form to cuss out a child, unless, of course, that child is a really angry German video game nerd (see link above) or doing "hoodrat stuff with this friends." Then it's fair game.

But drivers -- especially East Coast drivers -- are always fair game, which is why I'm feeling like an epic failure right now. I lost the game. Although I'm pretty sure after several practice sessions, I've perfected my bird-flipping skillz, my verbal assault smack-downs are clearly in need of some work. What's next? I'll see you in hell, sir? Dammit.


I-66 said...

Should've thrown a "donchano" in there for good measure.

LivitLuvit said...

I have the worst. roadrage. EVER. (being a Masshole and whatnot). It's probably much better for all that I'm no longer on the road, but I did get a lot of joy out of capriciously shouting expletives at my fellow drivers. It was indeed cathartic, although it usually scared the bejeezus out of anyone in the car with me. (Made some great first impressions...)

Peter said...

You could limit yourself to non-verbal assaults - there's no way your politeness is going to take the sting out of giving someone a good stomping.

Gilahi said...

I disagree. I think adding an honorific after an insult just ices it. Famous insulters like Winston Churchill ("Madam, if you were my wife, I would drink it") and Oscar Wilde showed that they were civilized, genteel people by just trashing someone and and then sweetly adding, "sir" or "madam" to it. It shows that you at least are sophisticated and polite and really adds weight to what you say. All the insults that are hurled in the English House of Commons are preceded with "the distinguished gentleman from.." and so forth.

Anonymous said...

I definitely agree with gilahi. There's nothing better than being overly nice to someone who doesn't like you or did you wrong. Just watch the look on their face afterwards. And anyway, I didn't raise you to be a bee-atch! :) M.

Dave B. said...

Most people probably shouldn't have a license to begin with.

And ya know, there's no problem on the planet that can't be solved with a baseball bat. Carlin said so.

Marissa said...


Oh yah!


I like how you're driving people around in your car having never met them. I'm going to assume theyr'e hitch-hikers.


You and your Ukrainian customs...


Hmm...I think you have a valid point there. I'm going to switch of the "ma'am" to "madam." And end by tipping my hat to them. Who can sell me a top hat, by the way?


Hi mom.


Especially if it's large and cartoonish and makes an equally cartoonish noise upon impact. Extra points if it produces a ring of chirping birds around the victim's head.

jheisel said...

Once I actually kicked a car that almost ran me over. It sped around some corner by Ulitsa 1905 goda (it took me three times to get that right), so I kicked it for not stopping. The driver wasn't happy, but fuck him: at least he didn't have to clean my guts off his grill.

Dave B. said...

Yeah, nerf bats can be a lot of fun.

Victor9000 said...

If you slip like that again, I suggest you transition into full-on politesse escalation.
"You're a dick, ma'am . . . I DEMAND SATISFACTION."
[Glove slap = funnier when it's done with fingerless bike gloves]

Marissa said...


Was it Russian made? In other words, did the bumper instantly disintegrate when your foot made contact?

dave b--

Any kind of Nerf weaponry is fun.


Ahh yes! The glove slap. I've been meaning to buy me a sweet pair of fingerless cycling gloves for this very purpose. Thank you for the extra motivation!

John Foster said...

Seriously - it stings so much more with the added "ma'am" - classic!

Manners are a good thing in every facet of life.

I bid you a good day.