Who is the A-hole? Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me…

This is a post where I get to use our “a-holes” tag.

Yesterday morning, during the portion of my commute where I have to use a busy road, I approached an intersection (Wells & Division) with the green light and I kept a sharp eye on opposite traffic to make sure no one turned left in my path. That is a common occurrence because drivers either don’t pay attention or think they are fast enough to dart through, so I’m always looking out for it.

I entered the intersection and the opposite driver, who had a clear view of me, began to turn left at the same time without warning. I started breaking, but I wasn’t sure if I could stop in time, so I called out, “Don’t go! Don’t go!” I’m loud and his window was open, so he stopped and as I went by a split second later, he yelled out his window, “Then hurry up, Asshole!”

Can you believe that? Crazy times!

But I will continue to use my outside voice when necessary to ensure my safety. By the time I arrived at work, I was mostly zen about it, telling myself that he must be a miserable person, whereas I only had to deal with him for a few seconds.

I did stop at the store afterward to buy this amazing Icelandic chocolate bar before going to work. Chocolate is my friend.

And it helped that I had the witty banter of Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me whispering in my right ear.

You may have noticed that I was a bit bundled up. With temps in the low 40’s, biking in a suit sans sweat is no problem, and now I have to add earmuffs, a scarf, wool tights and gloves. Not just any gloves – my fingers get very cold, so I had to break out these huge Thinsulate reindeer gloves. They’re so silly looking, they make me laugh.

Mean drivers, cold weather, whatever.

I will still be out there, enjoying my bike rides. :)

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

49 thoughts on “Who is the A-hole? Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me…

  1. Tom Kelley says:

    I wouldn’t take it personally. I think he may have been embarrassed. Since 100% of drivers and cyclists perceive their skills as above average, it is very hard to take direction from other road users.

    I have used my voice to communicate when I’ve been in situations that I thought I was going to be squashed. Instead of being grateful that something awful didn’t happen, the drivers lashed out at me. I think they didn’t like my tone. The misread fear for anger.

    Eh, what are you gonna do.

  2. john says:

    lol. you so rock. what a great response to that situation!

    I was biking home last night from work and had a lady turn left in front of me and get mad at me for being in her part of the world I guess.
    I think the next time that happens (and, of course, it will!) I will remember your lines about “person must be in a terrible state – and it’s lucky I only have to interact with them a few seconds!”

    that’s good stuff. thanks.

  3. anniebikes says:

    You go girl. I’m glad you escaped that dangerous situation.

    I love those reindeer gloves. They are about as kooky as my glasses. C’est la vie.

    Of course, chocolate always helps – wink.

  4. lucky cyclist says:

    All cyclists need to read Tom Vanderbilt’s “Traffic”, which has much about the cognitive psychology of driving. The driver was looking for cars and you were not a car. Because you are visible does not mean you are seen.
    Your grey outfit would not help. You could get a hi-viz wool suit.

    • LGRAB says:

      I have read Traffic, very interesting book. I know that visible does not always equal “seen,” which is why I ride so defensively. I hope you’re joking about the high-vis suit! I don’t think the problem here was the guy seeing me.

      • lucky cyclist says:

        I do think that you can increase your chance of being seen by clothing choice. I think right now hi-vis is paired with danger and caution so it should draw attention. I wonder if it is used too much if it will lose that. I think it is established that white vehicles crash less frequently. A high-vis wool suit would not be an off the rack item, so yes that was a joke. I think riding to work in a cycling jacket that is white, bright yellow, or hi-viz would be wise.
        I do not think drivers will intentionally hit you since they would have to talk to the police, and other inconveniences. They have to recognize the cyclist a relevant stimuli in a very busy visual field.
        This is sort of blaming the victim, but the victim has the most at stake.

        • Kristin says:

          I’m not going to buy particular clothing to ride my bike because people can’t drive. That’s like saying I shouldn’t wear a short skirt if I don’t want to get hit on by men. I’m not going to change my behavior to accommodate their faults.

          • Illiniwu says:

            i agree with kristin! hi-vis clothing, hi-vis bike, where will it end?? sometimes, i think the oncoming driver and i are looking at each other right in the eye. But then they do something stupid, and I would like to think if they actually did see me they wouldn’t have done that. i have your scenario all the time to the point if i’m not the very first vehicle through the intersection with a lot of left-turning cars, i’ll wait for the last car to get through.

        • RobW says:

          Actually, there are some drivers that will hit you because “you shouldnt have been playing in the street anyway”, many pedestrian/bicycle accidents are hit and run, simply fear of consequences doesnt seem to bother some, even though running makes it much worse legally.

    • RobW says:

      Hi Vis is useless when you are already seen as a target, which this case clearly pointed to… a blatant disrespect to a cyclist, and willful endangerment of same.

    • David Pertuz says:

      I think I’ve noticed that this vision impairment (so to speak) is not limited to car drivers – of course pedestrians have it also – leading to their stepping directly in front of you in a state of oblivion – but I’ve also seen it in other cyclists; usually the ones who run red lights (or stop signs) directly in front of me as I’m going through on the green. It can be a hard habit to break, apparently.

  5. LC says:

    I usually yell a WAIT! quickly followed by a Thank You!! (although not as friendly as it may read here), and the thing that I love about Britishness, that still holds strong, is that no-one can ever get mad at you if you say thank you :D it’s like a release valve, a thank you and a smile make any a-hole loosen up their tight angry self!

    When anything else fails… chocolate is always the way to go!

  6. Jan der Biergarten says:

    Yesterday on a rainy, cool ride home that I extended to 27 miles, I was given the one finger salute from an SUV going the opposite direction. No other traffic, mostly a rural area. Explanation? I don’t have any. This was not far from where a “ghost bike” was placed this past weekend after a woman on a bicycle was killed by a motorist 2 weeks ago. Coincidence? Maybe.

  7. jesse.anne.o says:

    Sometimes people get embarrassed when they’re called out for doing something wrong and then try to “defend” themselves – it sounds like that’s what he was probably doing. Sorry you had to be on the other end of it!

  8. Karen says:

    I also live here in Chicago and if I had a dollar for everytime a car was unsafe/not paying attention/etc. AND was subsequently a total a-hole…and what is up with drivers here NEVER using their turn signal here? A friend of mine who has been biking for years and years told me that you have to just assume that everyone in an automobile is going to do the wrong thing (and then be a jerk, apparently). No blinkers, opening car doors, cutting you off, running intersections and red lights, and name calling – awesome!. But, it was honestly one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever had. Like you said, I have eventually become more zen about it all, and have stopped yelling, “what the F dude!?” all the time :)

  9. Lauren Taylor says:

    i always feel a little bad for jerky drivers – they must be in a perpetually terrible mood, to want to ruin everyone else’s day. so glad i only have to deal with it for a short time, whereas they have to sulk about it all day.

  10. Five Seed says:

    Where do you get your wool tights? I’m getting desperate for some on my bicycle commutes – it’s getting cold around here!!

    • LGRAB says:

      I’m still searching for the Holy Grail of tights. I have a couple from Smartwool, which are expensive but very well made – no holes or runs after three years. But they are 100% wool and therefore a little too thick and sometimes a bit scratchy feeling when I get hot. Calvin Klien has nice wool/spandex blend tights, although you need to buy a size up and those got a run after one season.

  11. Misssarahchan says:

    What a loser. Usually I yell “HEEEEYYYY!!!” and then see somebody with the deer-in-headlights look. But this last summer I had an icky run-in on the road as well. I was heading straight, then took a left into a residential street. There was a car with two 20-something girls in it, waiting to do their own left turn onto the main road I just came from.

    When I finished my left and was right beside their car, she yelled, “Get off the road, you BITCH!” in the angriest, angstiest voice ever. I don’t usually get called a bitch…

    But the weirdest thing about these instances is that they happen so fast. I was sort of shocked in that instant when it happened, but just half a block later I was like, “What the hell!”

  12. tclong03 says:

    Don’t you just love Retards…. I live here in kansas and a buddy of mine and I were out on farm roads, and some Little man sendrom rednecks went by and yelled wussies with a P at us. We both are big guys and yelled back get out and prove it. They kept driving, sounds like they were describing themselves. Stay tough girl… With a nice looking lady in my way, would have stopped and let here go by not call her asshole

  13. Bicyclekitty says:

    Go get ’em! This morning while descending in the narrow tunnel portion of Rocky Butte, a car came up fast behind me. I yelled SEE ME in a big outside voice. And they did. Enjoy the chocolate!

  14. Bicyclekitty says:

    Go get ’em! This morning while descending in the narrow tunnel portion of Rocky Butte, a car came up fast behind me. I yelled SEE ME in a big outside voice. And they did. Enjoy the chocolate!

  15. Frits B says:

    Re gloves, Alicia has just the right recipe: http://cyclingwithoutahelmet.blogspot.com/

  16. Gordon Inkeles says:

    I think of drivers like that as “Gasaholics.” They’re in a world of their own.

    Stay safe, Dottie.

  17. Uptown Biker says:

    Whenever I have an unpleasant encounter with someone who is inconsiderate/rude/etc., this is my mantra:

    I still get to be me.
    He still has to be him.
    I win.

    Then I feel fine.

  18. Blithebicyclist says:

    Hmm, for all the well-mannered drivers out there, you always come across the odd one that puts a dent in your day for a short while. We approach the problem the same way. No I’m not talking Zen . . . Chocolate (should be in every first aid kit). Happy cycling!

  19. Patrickinchicago says:

    I have no problem using my outside voice when it comes to cars driving badly…even when I am driving!

  20. ladyfleur says:

    I hate it when you get the double shot of adrenalin: first for the aggressive driving or near miss, then for the rude comment. It can take a while to calm down afterward.

    On a positive note, the feminist side of me is pleased that he called you an asshole instead of a bitch, the traditional slur for women who have the nerve to tell men what to do. We’ve come a long way, baby.

    • adventure! says:

      Double shot of adrenalin…the last night I was in Chicago on my tour (beginning of this month), I nearly hit while being a pedestrian crossing North just west of Damen. I was in a crosswalk with the “Walk” sign on. Car comes up, stops briefly, passes another car waiting at the light (on the right) and then CAME RIGHT AT ME while I was still in the crosswalk! I managed to get out of the way just in time. Then someone in the car yells something about me “not moving fast enough.” Yeeps.

  21. TWBookkeep says:

    From the college days i remember “A-hole” in Chicago to mean,
    something like Sir or Madame anywhere else.
    Good choice to go for chocolate!

  22. Karen says:

    Why can’t I ever come up with post titles as cool as yours?? And I never would have thought of turning A-hole into a tag but I vow to be more daring as per your good example. I love the suit and the gloves, BTW. I think the A-hole just felt threatened and intimidated by your style and elegance. Glad you survived your morning w/ Zen in tact. Stay safe!

  23. […] for respectful letters to the judge considering her appeal. Which one is really the a**hole — the slow cyclist or the impatient driver? No helmets necessary for New York bike share riders. A popular bayfront Brooklyn bike path is a […]

  24. You nicely escaped the situation. It is always difficult in handling such situation.

  25. David Pertuz says:

    When I can remember it, I go with what something that my girlfriend (a huge lagomorphile) does, even if I only do it in my head, which is to append a ‘honeybunny’ to my thoughts about the person. It really helps the anger wash away in a sea of fluffiness. This is not to say that I do not enjoy a bit of righteous indignation or an adrenaline rush for a bit, though. When it comes to verbals, I mostly call people ‘chief’ (remember the old Letterman gag ‘don’t call me chief’?) because it is inoffensive (and perhaps baffling) and makes me smile. And the most important thing when somebody calls you an a**hole or something is to ignore, ignore, ignore. Last week, on my least favorite stretch of my daily ride on Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago (the constricted, crowded part between Logan Square and Kimball/Diversey) a driver pulled to the right to use the curb lane; as I was on his front quarter, he was pulling into me and so I gave his hood a hard slap as I went by. He responded with loud comments about my sexual relations with my mother and I ignored, ignored, ignored. Sometimes it is hard, but it feels good.

  26. Stephen Hodges says:

    I’m frankly shocked that anyone would call someone like Dottie an a*******. (Or maybe I’ve just lived in the Deep South too long.) Nevertheless, these are scary times, and we all need to be careful. A lot of people are out of work, underwater, in over their head, and out of options. Instead of a strong, confident, well-dressed woman on a bicycle, they may see instead a vulnerable target for their frustrations. That’s not a call for a change in dress or behavior, neither an excuse for rudeness or worse, but only a warning that these are desperate times for many, and it’s likely to get worse before it gets any better. Bicycle commuters in early 21st century America, as it declines in various ways and for far too many, need to be very careful about who they engage.

  27. How could someone yell at you when you look so cute? That is super lame. Yep–be glad you only had to spend a split second with this miserable creature.

  28. David says:

    Well, it is Chicago. I’ve been called worse there, in front of my young children too.
    anyway, I love bike commuting! Even with finger gestures, and profanities. Just SMILE! You’re on a bike!!

  29. Tom-thorpe says:

    I would certainly have an airhorn on mybike in urban areas!!!!!

  30. TheDraisiennes says:

    I notice that when it is raining drivers are more impatient and temperamental. Last time it was rainy (a week ago?) I was cut off by a pick-up truck driver who accelerated in front of me as he entered the right lane apparently turning right, then after I shot him a bird (pure instinct, I didn’t mean to), he cut me off to enter the left lane then as he saw me maneuver left of him, he decided to turn left right in front of me! This was at Wells and Chicago during morning rush. I followed his left turn then cut behind him and caught up to him as he stopped in traffic opening his window. I just shouted “wake up”! Thankfully nothing worse happened. Lessons learned — don’t shoot birds, be extra patient on rainy days and follow the flow of giant metal objects as they cut in front of you! Drivers are under added pressure and honestly I think lack of bike infrastructure hurts them more than us — mentally at least.

  31. Jim says:

    I find it revealing that the non-gender-specific term of asshole was used versus the old school “bitch”.
    Even in anger, the dude resorted to a PC epithet.

  32. Sorry I’m late to this discussion, but this is a great example of what Gabe Klein, our newly transplanted Dept of Transportation Commissioner, said he quickly learned about Chicagoans: They’re so nice in person, but they get so mean when they’re behind the wheel of a car!

  33. ilter says:

    Written form does more justice to the driver`s words, when you take it as a note complete with a signature :p

    Then hurry up !

  34. mason s. says:

    I had my first unpleasant encounter with a driver yesterday. I was making a left turn at a four-way stop, so I got out into the road a bit. The lady in the SUV behind me honked and yelled at me to get out of her way and onto the sidewalk. I told her to go drive on a runway.
    It was mostly puzzling because I couldn’t have been delaying her trip. It’s a stop sign, you still have to stop.

  35. Inspiredcyclist.wordpress.com says:

    Oh Dottie, that’s awful…the A-hole meet up, certainly not the chocolate, or the reindeer gloves! I very much enjoy WWDTM, but didn’t download the app. Now I will do so, so I don’t have to stay in my driveway listening, when I’ve already arrived home. Keep Safe!

  36. Jim says:

    Strong confidant intelligent Women make this guy pee his pants just a little bit in real life. Keep that outdoor voice clear. Jim

  37. Gram Bev says:

    I Love You ! <3 XX, Gram

  38. robert says:

    I had a 85 year old guy clip me in an intersection and just kept on driving as he draged me along on his bumper … he was staring at me the whole time… this was all a little unreal to say the least. Be careful out there! BTW you way too beautiful for anyone to ever call you that …

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