Another day in the trenches

Man, it was perfect. A cyclist’s natural enemies brought together in time and space in one crystalline fragment.

A cock in a suit driving a BMW convertible.

A tradie in a 4×4 ute behind him.

Gridlock traffic.

Camberwell.

Fucking Camberwell. Serial bugbear of my commute, a deadening beige epicentre of white middle class entitlement and fucking clueless drivers.

I once knew a girl from Camberwell who told me, without a trace of irony, that her parents bought a Porsche Cayenne because it was the only car that could fit their golf clubs in.

Under a brilliant moon and clear skies, the stage was set.

Act I.

The silver-haired salesman in the BMW was pulling out of a T-junction into the paused traffic. I saw him from 100m away, his black surrogate penis flopped arrogantly across two lanes as he tried to squish it in.

I watched him closely, hoping to catch his eye. Twenty seconds?

He stared resolutely left, refusing to acknowledge the oncoming traffic. The traffic refused to budge.

One of the perks of riding a bike is that when the cars are all stopped, often you are not.

Not all drivers have noticed.

He was stopped, blocking my lane entirely.

I rolled slowly and deliberately into the right lane, towards his right flank, aiming to glide through the small space between his car and the hatchback he was propositioning. Without a glance in my direction, he pushed further out, and the space abruptly vanished.

I stopped.

“Hello?!” – I half enquired as I changed direction, 300 flashing lumens of LED light rolled across his dawning perception as he finally looked in my direction.

Wheeling around behind his car, I rode on, saying not a word more.

“Hello?!” – like a rag to a bull.

He drove past, swearing and gesticulating.

I’ve found drivers hate it when you point out they drive like gormless shits, no matter how gently.

I responded with the universal symbol for “Look where you’re bloody going!” and that was that.

Act II.

As the traffic light turned red, the tradie speeds up to me, window down, to defend BMW-cock’s honour.

“YOU NEED TO PULL YOUR FUCKING HEAD IN MATE, YOU THINK YOU OWN THE ROAD, YOU FUCKING HIT HIS CAR, SLOW DOWN!”

Me (mentally tallying up his Herald-Sun Bingo score): “I didn’t hit him, I just told him to look where he was going!”

Him: “YOU FUCKING HIT HIS CAR!”

Me: “I didn’t touch his bloody car, I was watching him for 20 seconds, he pulled out without looking and I told him so!”

Him: “PULL YOUR HEAD IN MATE OR I’LL GET OUT OF THE CAR AND GET THE CROWBAR OUT OF THE BACK!”

Me: “Well, I don’t think that’s necessary… I told you, I didn’t touch his car, I just told him to look where he’s going. I’m not an idiot!”

Him (realising he stepped over the line): “Yeah OK.”

I rode off wondering how many of these the tradesman has read, to keep his anger and resentment simmering and so ready to boil over at such a slight provocation.

How wound up does a man need to be, to threaten to beat me with a crowbar for telling another driver – who he didn’t even know – to pay more attention?

As I rolled on home, collecting my thoughts, the arrogant BMW driver and the angry tradie continued to sit in the motionless traffic.

Another day in the War On Our Roads.

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