A happy scene you seldom see

November 23, 2011

“Hello there! Would you mind awfully just winding down your window for a moment?”
“Certainly! What seems to be the problem?”
“Well, you drove just a teeny-tiny bit to close to me there.”
“Ah. Yes. Now you mention it, I think I probably did.”
“And as we’re now both waiting here at the traffic lights, I thought I’d mention it while I had the opportunity.”
“Yes. Good idea.”
“Just to avoid it happening again. Because it’s quite scary when a ton of metal looks like it’s going to knock you down.”
“I can totally see your point, sir. My apologies. I’ll try to be more considerate next time.”
“Thanks.”
“But I must say, this situation is most unusual.”
“Really? In what way?”
“Well, it’s just so… civil. Cyclists tend to get very angry about getting cut up.”
“Ah, yes. Well, you see, I was going to lose my temper. But then I read something about moments like this. Apparently I’m supposed to show love. ‘Smile in the face of thoughtlessness,’ it said. ‘Explain the terror of being cut up. Tell them you are scared.’ I had my doubts, I must admit, but it seems to have worked on this occasion.”
“Hmmm. Yes…”
“Oh dear. Was that a little patronising?”
“Oh no no no. Not at all. Well, maybe a little. But that’s not what perturbs me. It’s this conversation. It should be angry, fractious, unreasonable, neither of us giving any quarter. It’s not real enough. In fact, I would go as far to say that it’s not even happening.”
“No! I will not have it, sir – I simply will not have it! Look, if what you’re saying is true, then this entire situation has been fabricated. But look at that red light! Any minute now it will turn green, and that will prove we’re actually here.”

(They look. They wait for a considerable time. The traffic lights remain red.)

“Oh well. Looks like you were right.”
“Sorry, old boy. If it’s any consolation, it seems that both of us are merely providing a cipher for the author’s thought process.”
“It would seem so, yes. I am not the autonomous being that I thought I was. I may as well just give up now. Which is a shame, because I had so much I wanted to say.”
“Well, why not say it? You’ve got nothing to lose.”
“You say that, but that’s not quite true. Because I met the guy who wrote that blog post…
You met him?”
“Yes, I met him. Because we’ve already established I’m the author, not a creation in a fictive contrivance.”
“Ah yes. I see what you mean.”
“So I don’t want to cause offence. He had a nice little dog and he seemed like a nice chap.”
“But you disagree fundamentally with his reasoning on this occasion.”
“Yes! Completely!”
“Because he characterises the relationship between drivers and cyclists as essentially confrontational, whereas you believe it isn’t.”
“Exactly. I mean, it can be confrontational, but only on the relatively few occasions when things go wrong. But the vast majority of drivers let us get on with it. They like us – or they tolerate us – but they don’t hate us, and I generally don’t hate them. It’s a false opposition. And isn’t the tone of his reasoning is a bit vain? Look at me! I’m mastering my anger – and you should too! We can have a better society, but only if you’re all a little like me!”
“So what’s the solution? More angriness?”
“No. Not more anger, or showing more love. Just more, I don’t know, practicality. Boring things, like joining the CTC or the London Cycling Campaign, writing to your local council asking them to improve conditions for cyclists, maybe telling your MP you want to see stiffer sentencing for bad drivers. Stuff like that.”
“I think you’ve made your point quite eloquently.”
“Thank you.”
“But the bad news is that in doing so, we have now served our purpose.”
“Oh.”
“So I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we expired right this very second.”
“I think you may be right.”

(Predictably, they vanish.)

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One Response to “A happy scene you seldom see”

  1. Nick Hussey Says:

    Hi Chris, it was indeed me who wrote the blog. I could address lots of points but that’d come across as a bit obsessive and shaky fisty.

    Basically its not a cure all for the problems we face, just addressing a reaction that won’t help us. Its an idealistic very long-term way off maybe helping another few %.

    Certainly going mental at drivers and being aggressive (and I have gone absolutely bonkers in the past) isn’t going to win friends. Most drivers don’t mind us at all. But a few loaaaath us.

    So combine a smashingly likeable attitude that won’t get the door slammed in our face (hopefully metaphorically) can only help? Plus the CTC (does joining do THAT much?
    Shouldn’t we lead by example too, the whole shabang?), campaign groups, etc.

    But we need to take individual responsibility for our actions, otherwise there’ll always be some RLJing twit who undoes all the good work. You don’t RLJ do you?!

    Anyway, its just a short dreamy hope. Not a design for ultimate victory.
    Ta ta!

    Nick Hussey, Vulpine.cc, AKA @aslongasicycle (and Kingston Wheeler, boooooo).


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