Thinker : Telling Stories : Opposites Attract
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Riding my bike up the hill from Market on lower Haight. Not the nicest area, but nothing to fear from the locals. As I cross an intersection, a bus passes me. A huge fat woman comes out from between two parked cars. She is ranting the incomprehensible babble of the crazy drunk people on welfare. She sees me but keeps moving. She's going to squeeze me into the bus if she keeps going. The bus passes me and I'm out of danger, but I hold my line. To myself I think "She should stop and let me pass. I'm in the road. I'm a bike." She sees things differently. Perhaps she thinks, "Stupid biker. He can go around me." So, we both hold our line.

In that clear flash of thought that comes almost every time I'm about to wreck, I think "Hey, I'm gonna' make it." (This tells me that before that, I DIDN'T think I'd make it.) She must have given me an extra shove, because I was surprised when I saw my handle bar make a hard right turn and my wheel go sideways to the direction of my travel.

I fall. I get up. She is still ranting. Now it's something about, "Did you see that? He ran right..." A really rundown woman with missing teeth and drooling a little walks to me and asks in a very clear voice, "Are you OK?" I quietly reply, "I'm fine. Thanks." It's like she's an angel in disguise among the craziness there. I get back on my bike. I've lost my chain. Get off. Use my toe to put the chain back on and ride off.

I wonder: what effect did the episode have on the 10 - 15 people that saw it? What would they have done: yelled, screamed at her, defended themselves, picked a fight? Why did I do it—because I wanted her to know that she shouldn't force bikers into buses? Was her holding her line any different than me holding mine? What lesson did she want me to learn—that bikers should watch out for people; that she can't be messed with (remember how fat she was). Or maybe she wanted to say "Get out of my way. This is my world and it's screwed up. I'm striking back because you deserve it."

First written Wed, Aug 13, 1997
Last published Wed, Jun 2, 1999