Panorama of downtown/inner portland taken from Pittock Mansion

“Cars are the worst…”

Published 2016-04-19

So here’s an interaction I had this morning. This kind of thing happens maybe 5x/yr to me so I seldom even remember it by the time I get to the office. But it’s worth relaying.

I was on my (looong) way to work and riding through the Hillsdale parking lot (Baker & Spice!). It is a narrow lot and really favors cars who enter it from the downhill/west side (The angled parking is easier from that direction.) There’s a Suburban in front of me, westbound (so: wrong way), trying to back into a narrow space in this narrow lot. Right in front of the crosswalk/benches/bike parking. She’s holding up several people on foot, a few in cars, and myself. I see no indication she’s aware of anyone else.

As she backs into the space I see she has a straight line back & pull around her front bumper. She lays on the horn and the Suburban jumps back. She starts to yell something incoherent to me. (Pro tip: EVERYTHING sounds incoherent from the outside of the car)

I say, in the kind of voice I use to reassure my children when they break a dish: “You’re OK. I’m ok. We’re OK. You’re doing fine.” Because really she was. I was. We were.

But she was scared and panicked and flustered. When you’re in a car sometimes all you see is cars, even in “Hillsdale Town Center” right by the crosswalk and the high school and benches and food cart pod and bike parking and weekend farmer’s market and Baker & Spice — a place where there are bound to be lots of people not in cars.

I didn’t feel angry at all. She was a sweet-looking old lady who was operating a vehicle way beyond her capabilities. I felt kind of bad for her.

So here’s why I’m relaying this story which, to repeat: happens in some form several times a year to me.

Thing the first:

THIS HAPPENS TO YOU TOO. It’s just that you are probably also in a car so you can’t hear the other party’s incoherent yelling. Or maybe you are doing the yelling. Or you are both yelling. And I bet it happens way more than 5x/yr. I bet it happens daily.

Hey, it’s OK. You’re OK. We’re OK. I do this too when I’m driving. Everyone does this when they’re driving, except maybe deeply stoned people driving old Vanagons that can’t exceed 43mph and retired astronauts with nerves of steel.

Which brings me to:

Thing the Second:

a Twitterpal this morning tweeted:

And OMG a truer thing has never been said. Nobody becomes a better person when they’re behind the wheel. Retired astronauts with nerves of steel might hold steady and the Vanagon people as per above. The rest of us: assholes at best. I immediately thought of the sweet old lady in Hillsdale who got all assholified by the surprise existence of other people.