Thursday, August 30, 2007

Science and the Zen of traffic...

I met a direct descendant of Sir Isaac Newton recently. You remember Newton from high school physics. He invented calculus and was famous for his observation, “Objects in motion tend to stay in motion, and objects at rest tend to stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. What the %#@*'s a bicycle doing in my lane?”

Or at least that was his great-great-great-great-grandson's observation.

I was on my way home from work, grinding along through waves of heat rising up off the pavement. Eighty-sixth street is a 4 lane arterial that goes slightly downhill. Normally, riding on an arterial is pleasant and uneventful because it's so easy for overtaking traffic to pass my slower bicycle. However, that afternoon I had a line of traffic on my left that included a school bus. Up ahead, in my lane, a pickup truck slowed and stopped at a red light. The cars on my left stacked up at the light too. Sir Isaac's great-great-etc grandson was some distance behind me, probably planning to pass all that stopped traffic, that is, until he saw that pesky cyclist over on the right. He laid on the horn, a pitiful bleating noise that was so puny and wretched that I thought at first it came from a side street or was from farther away.

I looked around, but no one was obviously honking nearby. I slowed for the truck ahead but didn't have to stop because the light changed to green. There's another red light less than 100 yards away, or less than 100 meters for those of you with a rational set of weights and measures, so I didn't try to jump to top speed.

Now, I figured that Sir Isaac's not-so-great grandson wanted to keep his momentum and not have to slow for those cars in the left lane. But the truck in front of me wasn't about to vanish into thin air, so his intention to keep moving was irrelevant.

That's when I heard the reedy voice of Zen Master Poo inside my head. “Turdhopper,” he whispered, ”Snatch this Snap-On 15 inch adjustable wrench from my hand, a tool known for its combination of strength, balance, and fine, heavily chromed finish, and go smack that asshole upside his head.”

I dismissed his advice. “Master Poo, go away! And don't call me Turdhopper again you old fart! I thought you advocated non-violence anyway.”

Well, yeah, you're right. But I know this guy. He took the parking space next to mine at the gym last week, and the butt-head dented my BMW! Just take the damn wrench!”

I ignored him and his voice faded until it was lost in the wind. I pointed to the left-hand lane as Sir Isaac's intellectually challenged offspring continued to lean on his horn. It's impotent blare grew weaker as either the horn or the battery gave out. Of course, it was too hot to wind down a window, so the famed mathematician's misbegotten progeny had to content himself with shouting inside the cab of his pickup accompanied by wild gesticulations as an added bonus, like a mime with Tourette's syndrome.

I smiled and waved as he finally got the message and passed in the lane to my left. His eyes were about to pop out.

The CycleDog corollary to Newton's First Law: The truly stupid tend to remain stupid.

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Blogger Warren T said...

Sounds like his brain was more like a Fig Newton...

5:13 PM  
Blogger Apertome said...

What an idiot ... I hate drivers who act like this. Good job keeping your cool.

Oh, and I love your corollary to Newton's First Law!

12:30 PM  

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