The Only Appropriate Response to a Guy Yelling Out His SUV Window: A Smile & Biscuits

7:19 PM

It is officially spring in Minnesota.  (We Minnesotans are inherently conflicted about climate change.  As good, nature-loving people living in the North Woods, we are concerned about the effects of such drastic temperature shifts - moose may be gone from MN in 10 years - but we can now pull out the shorts almost a month early!)  If I couldn’t tell from the uptick in the temperature, I would definitely know because of the appearance of the Biker Suck/Car Drivers Suck letters to the editor that annually appear in my morning paper.  There they are, going back and forth like two March Madness teams – each purporting to hold the high ground when it comes to appropriate behavior on our shared roads.


I seem to be one of the few people who will admit that I am both a driver and biker.  When I drive, I am annoyed by cyclists who change lanes without even a glance over their shoulders, who run red lights when other cars are near, who can’t seem to figure out the most basic of hand turn signals, but I am also just as annoyed at these people when I am on my bike.  On a ride my blood boils when I have a car tailing me who then roars past, almost close enough to graze my handlebars, when a space opens up in the road.  Or the driver who, thinking they are being nice, will stop in a busy street and wave me across - expecting me to ignore that the cars in the other three lanes of traffic are not aware of the fact that we are bending the rules of the road right now to be nice.

What it comes down to is this simple fact: I tend to be grumpy at both drivers and cyclists.  But I also remember one simple rule of physics: Force = Mass x Acceleration.  The car will always win, when it comes down to it, which means be nice when you are driving, and be nice when you are biking.  Pretty simple.

Then a guy yells at me out his window today as I was commuting home on my bike.  As he was simultaneously jamming his accelerator to the floor of his late-model SUV, I may not have caught all of what he was spitting out the window, but I did hear something like, “bike on the sidewalk you blahblahblah…”  (For the record, this verbal storm came out of nowhere – we weren’t even going in the same direction, and I in no way impeded his ability to drive.) 

Boom Goes the Dynamite
I had numerous responses I could have pulled out of my pocket at that point, but time was at a premium.  Clearly, I didn’t have time to explain to this dude the laws of my locale, which state that I cannot ride on the sidewalk without risking a ticket from Mr. Officer Friendly.  I was pretty sure that we wouldn’t have time for a Lincoln-Douglass debate on the merits of auto vs. cycle transportation, or an existential discussion on who owns, and consequently has rights to, the road (can one “own” a road?).  No, none of these responses would do. 

So I did the most evil thing I could possibly do when confronted with rudeness on the road – I waved.  More than that – I waved with a big smile on my face

Really, there is no better solution, and I always do this.  It instantaneously makes me feel better, as I’m sure several scientific studies will back me up on the fact that the act of smiling will quickly brighten any mood.  Also, I just look better smiling than scowling.  Additionally, I suspect that it drives people like SUV-Dude crazy, because when you think about it, deep down, his entire motivation in that moment was to transfer his anger and (misguided) frustration to me, and my shining grin is just the right FU to let him know it didn’t work. 

Then I came home and made biscuits.  Did you hear that SUV-Dude?  And just to piss him off some more, I made a second batch of biscuits – HA!

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