Time to rant

I’m going to sound like a grumpy old fart but that’s ok.

You call the bike shop, you inquire about getting some repairs done to your bike, and the voice on the phone says ‘yes, we can do that. It will take about 30 minutes and we close at 5 PM today.’ Don’t show up at 10 minutes to five and go in to your ‘well the person on the phone said.’ You called at 10 in the morning, you buggered about all day long and thought you were better than whoever would be attending to your problem. You’re so obviously special.

Several years ago you retired after a decade or more working ‘downtown.’ But now that you no longer have that company parking spot you ride transit. I applaud your decision to ride transit. Just leave downtown before all the people that had to work all day, while you shopped, they might like the seat otherwise reserved for ‘old’ people. My mother eventually stopped giving her seat to the shoppers, the ‘old.’

I’m going to suggest to an ‘automotive journalist’ in the local tabloid rag that they ride through traffic with me. On the back of a tandem, where they are utterly powerless (and, hence more aware of what’s going on) to control any aspect of the ride. Then, maybe, they’ll stop moaning about cyclists who cruise stop signs. I want them to feel like they are going to be crushed by some utterly distracted, cell-phone texting wretch. I want them to feel the wing mirror as someone brushes past. Perhaps they will enjoy being overtaken on the right-hand side, in a country where we drive on the right. On the right as opposed to all those places that retain that most important aspect of the British Empire, driving on the wrong side of the road.

Speaking of driving. Imagine the local constabulary being ‘shocked’ by the increase in the number of drivers who are in excess of the speed limit. Like 30 or 40 km/hr in excess. Or, another way, 60 to 80% in excess. Wow. The observational abilities of the coppers is astounding. Surely sleuthing has improved their ability to observe, detect, watch, measure, calculate, and generally realize that people are speeding. But imagine the outcry from the automotive lobby if suddenly the speed limits were enforced. And the whining and sniveling from a largely protected class of people, people who would never classify their own activities as criminal, ‘why are the police ticketing me, they should be out catching criminals.’

Let’s see. I have a large-caliber hand-gun. I fire the hand-gun at random, pointed at no individual in particular, but just down the street in the middle of the day. Well, maybe someone is lucky, and they are not there. And so do not get hit. At worst I might be charged with reckless endangerment and/or careless use of a firearm.

Now on a different day or a different direction or a different place I fire the same hand-gun and someone gets hit. They die. Well, I’ll be charged, probably, with some low-end version of manslaughter. Oh, and some ‘recklessness’ charge related to the actual cause of death.

Consider the kinetic energy of a large-caliber handgun round. There is, relatively, a lot of it as the projectile leaves the gun’s muzzle. But that energy dies off, decays, with time and distance. Now obviously there is enough energy remaining when the victim is hit. And dies.

Now consider the kinetic energy of an automobile. And this is why I didn’t bother getting the ‘exact’ energies for this exemplary round; Too many calibers. Too many weights of round. Too many different muzzle velocities. All in all too many variables, other than the one that killed the person the bullet hit. They are dead.

Perhaps worse is the fact that the victim is only, seriously, wounded. But, dead, or wounded, they are.

Yes. I like commas. I want the reader to have time to think about the bullet. I want them to relive the images they have seen on television, or movies, when some gun or other goes off. Commas help with that – they give the reader time to think, to recall, to remember the impact of the bullet in to the ballistic gel, the victim.

But it is time to return to the automobile. At a much lower velocity an automobile has a level of kinetic energy several orders of magnitude greater than any possible handgun round. And people are hit, oh, accidentally, all, the, time. And they are often injured, and only slightly less often, die. Dead.

But. It was an accident.

I didn’t mean to.

Only doing my eyelashes. Yes, I watched a woman, driving, and curling her eyelashes. Simultaneously.

An accident. Unless alcohol is proven to be involved the odds of serious charges being laid are remote.

And even then.

A crash. A long story, perhaps related elsewhere in a different time and place in a different life. But the guy killed his daughter. I was there. I held him to the ground as another tried to breathe life in to his brain-dead daughter. It was an accident. Dead. No charges laid. Empty beer cans on the floor of the car.

People who ride in cars see the world through the eyes of people who ride in cars. And they know that if they hit someone (oh, that will never happen, I’m a good driver) it will be an accident and therefore essentially something they shouldn’t be punished for.

Like the car drivers who cruise stop signs. Like the car drivers whose cars litter the insurance company’s lots.

When you call the lock-shop to ask when we close, and we say 5 PM, don’t show up at 4:55 and expect me to be enamored of your presence.

Is it a coherent, cohesive argument, with a thesis, with evidence that proves the validity of the thesis. I don’t care. Too many times I’ve dealt with people who thought they were better drivers, who thought their bit of business entitled them, who thought that they were special. You’re not.

Neither am I.

It’s ok if I sound like a grumpy old fart. I am a grumpy old fart.


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