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Easy rider it isn’t.

Its called “Right of way”, asshole.

No one knows how to drive these days.

And I am not just talking about turning the wheel and pushing the pedals, you could hook electrodes to a dead earthworm and he get push the pedal enough to get you a ticket. (Plus you would probably get hit with the “No seatbelt” ticket too. They are so small, it would totally slip your mind.)

I am talking about those pesky little nitpicking annoyances that those of us who are just being assholes like to call THE FUCKING TRAFFIC LAWS.

You know, silly concepts like right of way, signalling a lane change and driving in the bike lane.

I swear, riding my bike to work has been an interesting mix of blessing and curse.

On the one hand, its a great way to get a morning and afternoon workout in my efforts to change the shape I am in. (Mainly from round into something that looks better.)

However, as I watch my fellow motorists zooming past me, a couple of things are abundantly clear.

  • The shittiest driver’s on the road have the nicest or the crappiest cars. Your high end Mercedes drivers are the most clueless d-bags on the road. Crappy cars are known for erratic driving. no look lane changes and right turns are their stock in trade.
  • Motorcyclists scream the loudest about how everyone doesn’t look out for them, but they look out for NO ONE. An even 50% of observed motorcycles on my daily trek speed, do NOT use turn signals, accelerate 3-4 times faster than everyone else and weave in and out of traffic. I am stunned they are not dropping like flies on an hourly basis.

On the good side of things, and we all know how I love the positive side of things, the ride to work was a great one.

Long enough to get a workout, not so long I am destroyed when I get there.

Hoping to ride a 100 mile race next month, so I need the work out.

But enough about me.

I did see a friend of sorts on my way.

Pauline, my latest homeless meth-head friend, happened to be walking down the street as I was riding to work.

Meth, it seems, does not have a bed time.

I waved and shouted her name and she just looked blankly at me, like she didn’t recognize me.

And she probably didn’t. Hard core drug use is a bitch on the short-term memory.

The morning ride was vastly different from the afternoon ride.

Morning ride starts just before sunup. The streets are deserted except for those with the really shitty commute. (Which was me for a long time.)

Its cool out, slight breeze, and more than enough light to see, but I use my bike lights anyway, more for them to see me than for me to see the road.

The afternoon ride is busy. Lots of cars on the road. Its hot and real humid out, so the sweat starts quickly and truly shocks me with the quantity.

But its a good ride, mainly flat, a few small hills, but nothing even approaching hard.

Had an interesting encounter on the ride home.

Pulled up to a stoplight and waited at the curb for the light to change.

There is a massive street dude standing there, truly a beast of a human being with all the earmarks of the thug life, up to and including facial tattoos.

His shirt print is a really interesting design, kind of an urban cityscape, but with colorful air brushing and some sci fi imagery mixed in.

And then I realized I was staring.

And then I realized he was staring at me, staring at him.

Among the thug world, mono a mono stare downs can get you shot. The best course of action its to change the setting.

“I like that shirt.”

He looks confused, and pulls out his earbuds. He didn’t hear me.

“What?”

“I like that print.”

And just like that, the moment is defused.

A huge grin spreads across his face.

“Its my design. I’m the artist.”

“You are a talented human-being.”

Andre and I talk for a good twenty minutes.

Awesome dude. Grew up in a really bad section of town, had an uncle who wanted to keep him out of trouble, so he taught him to draw when he was little. It worked, sort of.

But uncle died recently and left Andre a 4 color silk screen press.

And Andre is doing 4 color shirts, then doing further painting on them to create some truly incredible stuff. He showed me picks on his phone of a dozen shirts he has done. He sells them for $40. Doing well, he says.

The light has changed a number of times, and I am finally ready to go.

The white walk signal comes up and Andre steps off the curb, heading in the same direction.

And a car tries to turn right with no signal, against the light.

Had I jackrabbited, he might have clipped me.

Andre smacks the hood with his fist and the driver looks terrified and backs up.

As I ride off, I wonder if I can talk Andre into doing the daily ride with me.

Because people drive like shit.

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Saint Bitter, patron saint of the homeless.

There is a certain crazed symmetry to watching a meth head beg for money.

I know what you are thinking – “There he goes again, making fun of people less fortunate.”

You’re wrong.

I am making fun, but these people are in a living hell.

But, even the making fun is reserved as I watch how absolutely exhausting it must be inside of the head of Pauline.

Pauline is mid 30’s, looks 60.

There are only a few teeth left, the rest have fallen out.

Her eyes are tired, yet dart back and forth in a manic frenzy.

I am parked at the corner, on my bike, waiting for the light to change.

I have been bicycle commuting as much as I can lately, trying to change my shape from round to more of a V.

Jury is still out on how that is still working.

I have my cycling shades on, so no one can see my eyes.

Which destroys Pauline’s whole game, she relies on eye contact as the go ahead to start her pitch.

The light turns green and Pauline has had no success in her fundraising activities.

Everyone starts to cross the street.

Except me.

Its not often I break outside of the rotten little shell of shittyness that I wear like a new coat and feel something different.

Pity.

Pauline is a broken toy.

Like well and truly broken beyond repair.

She is watching me, so I take off my glasses and look at her.

The story, when she launches into it, makes severe ADD look focussed.

Her purse was stolen, or she lost it, or she needs cigarettes, or money, or a ride.

I hold up my hand, shushing her.

“What do you want from me?”

Tears well up in her eyes.

“I want to talk to someone.”

First complete sentence from her so far.

Tears well up in my eyes.

I tell her my name and ask hers.

She begins to slow down.

It occurs to me I might be the first person that is not telling her no or avoiding her in weeks.

Its a sobering thought.

I would throw out a “There but for the grace of God…” line, but it would wring false.

I figured out a long time ago that addictions never stick with me.

Luck of the draw.

 

I tell Pauline why I am riding and about the 100 mile race I want to do.

She stars a little blankly at me as if the idea of riding for any reason other than to get some place makes no sense.
And maybe it doesn’t.

And I do something I rarely do.

Part with cash.

Same deal as before.

Reach into the wallet, pull out a bill at random.

No matter what it is, I have to give it.

Its a dumb game that is designed to make me feel better on a base emotional level.

Last time I did it, it was just a five.

This time, luck is on Pauline’s side.

She folds the twenty and puts it in her pocket, like a squirrel hiding a nut that someone might steal without warning.

The light turns green for about the fifth time, this time, I decide to go.

“Bye!” Pauline stands on the corner and waves as I ride off.

Not many days I do this, I don’t think I could survive the emotional rip tide of it all.

But I feel better, in a shallow, superficial way.

And I am ok with that.

I’m a fucking saint.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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