|I was driving down the road recently when something occurred which I find teeth-grinding annoying. A guy on a motorcycle decided that obeying the speed limit through a small town made me so uncool and boring that it was perfectly acceptable for him to pass me on a double yellow line. This kind of thing makes me a little crazy. I am not a fan of motorcycles. In the course of my life I have had 14 friends and acquaintances killed, injured, maimed, or otherwise involved in mayhem in which motorcycles were a factor. Given the ratio of motorcycles to automobiles, that is not a good statistic.
While I'm certain that motorcycle people find them wonderful and truly enjoy zipping around on them, there are a few things that really bother me about them. First and foremost, they are noisy, and they are not noisy because they have to be, they are noisy because motorcycle people want them to be. I guess the horrible noise is all part of the mystique, but I don't like necessary noise, much less uncalled for noise. Secondly, they pollute far worse than cars. A lot of people are unaware of this fact, but it is true. Motorcycles are horrible polluters. In my world, pollution is a bad thing. But sometimes I think the thing that bothers me the most about being on the road with motorcycles is the fact that plenty of motorcyclists seem to entertain the notion that they don't have to obey traffic laws because they are driving on two wheels without a roof. This isn't true about all motorcyclists, obviously, but it happens often enough to me to qualify as a fairly consistent irritant when I'm driving on the road. My most recent encounter with this behavior was of a particularly annoying variety since the cyclist was right on the back of my car and shot around me all swervy, pulling in right smack in front of me to avoid being creamed by an oncoming SUV. This made me mad.
“You arrogant, obnoxious $!#%?,” I yelled at him. “You go zipping around on your little scooter on steroids like some kind of middle aged, overweight, and far less attractive James Dean and you think that you are so special and soooooo cool that you automatically qualify for immunity from all the basic traffic laws and common courtesies of the road by which the rest of us must abide. Well, Ive got news for you, Porky! You're no rebel without a cause, more like a rebel without a clue!”
This heated diatribe made my teenage son raise his eyebrows.
“Gee, Mom,” he said wryly, “overreact much?”
I was not to be pacified. “That wretched little leather-bound !$#%? should be glad I don't give him a little bump just to make him remember that he who has the bigger vehicle wins!”
Chuck was amused by me. He often is. “I think that in terms of making your point that might be a bit of overkill, Mom,” he smirked.
“Not at all,” I answered, “In terms of my current level of annoyance, it might be just enough kill.”
I was just ranting of course, because I enjoy it now and then. I try to be aware and respectful of people on motorcycles but my expectation is that they will practice the same courtesy. Needless to say, my expectations are not always met. The problem is, a lot of these annoying behaviors are inevitably risky and dangerous and I would feel awful if I ended up in any kind of accident with someone on a motorcycle, even if it was not my fault.
Generally speaking, I have no problem with motorcyclists, but when they choose to do something annoying, it almost always qualifies as spectacularly annoying. I have been in urban centers in countries where half of the population are on scooters, and I have always been infinitely happy that I don't live there. Not that I wouldn't mind having a little scooter to zip around on in good weather, but I don't think I'd particularly care for being in the middle of hundreds of other people zipping around on them doing insane things and appearing for all the world like cartoon characters in a kids video game. Being a motorist in a car in the middle of them is an experience fraught with anxiety. I know I wouldn't drive like a cartoon frog on amphetamines, but I wouldn't have a lot of faith in anyone else.