Monday, October 3, 2011
Things You Notice When Riding A Bike
It's interesting how your perspective changes when you're moving at a slower pace and not surrounded by walls of metal and glass inside a motorized contraption. You notice things that you might not have otherwise had time to see. You have time to think about what's around you. You begin to wonder what's wrong with people. Are they completely insane or merely oblivious?
I went for a ride today that included a stop on the way home at the local large chain grocery-shopping outlet. I needed to get some coffee beans and razor blades, since there's a fine line between that sexy three-day growth and the crazy grayish-bearded slob who's too lazy to shave ... and I haven't yet purchased one of those new-fangled stubble trimmers.
As I pedaled through the parking lot, the scenery appeared to move in slower-than-normal motion. First, I noticed the guy in his huge pickup truck, who seemed unable to manage backing out of his parking space and then turning into the lane ... opting to simply turn from within his space, nearly backing over the smaller car next to him, which I'm certain he couldn't see from his vantage point of 32 feet in the air. I suppose he thought the wheelbase of his enormous commercial grade hauling machine (which, of course, was hauling nothing but him) was a bit too long to back up and THEN turn ... but the lanes are pretty wide at this large chain grocery-shopping outlet (LCGSO from here forward) and he really did have plenty of room, even with his tires that were designed for off-roading in Nepal. I wondered if perhaps he just plain couldn't see anything behind or next to him. I wondered why people choose such a vehicle for driving around in the city, when it's impossible to properly park it. I wondered why he didn't do as others with such vehicles and just park further out and use two spaces so it would be easier to get in and out.
Then I saw a woman in a SUV ... no wait ... there were two ... no, it was two women and one man in SUV's, a teenager in an old Honda, an elderly man in a huge boat of a 70's-era car, and a dude in a service company van ... all driving through the parking lot with their cellular talking devices held to their ear. I thought to myself, "Isn't that illegal in California?" Then I thought, "Hasn't it been illegal for several years now?" I guess the cost of keeping up with the latest Pirate Speaking Device (a.k.a. Aye-Phone) prohibits the simultaneous ownership of a Pirate Earring (a.k.a. Bluetooth earpiece). Or perhaps, being the adventurous pirate types they are, it's the thrill of doing something not only illegal, but proven to be dangerous, that appeals to them. I then wondered how many people driving through the parking lot were texting instead of talking, since I wouldn't necessarily be able to see them doing so if the phone was in their lap. Maybe that explains the younger fellow who was inexplicably weaving in the lane. I had initially thought he was just learning to drive ... but now I have my doubts.
As I reached the entrance of the LCGSO, I then noticed that everyone coming in and out of said LCGSO had a look of frustration on their face. No one smiled ... no one said hello. Just marching to and from their vehicles where bad driving and pirate adventures await. But then ... there was a guy who smiled and said "Good Morning ... beautiful day!". He then put his newly-purchased bag of grocery items in the basket on his bicycle and rode away. Hmmm. And then another person, an older lady in a motorized wheelchair, also smiled and said "Hello". Very interesting.
I wondered ... why is it that only the man on a bicycle and woman in a wheelchair appeared friendly and happy, while so many others with huge vehicles of convenience and high-tech pirate adventure devices appeared so distant, self-absorbed, and frustrated? After all, we were all doing the same thing ... shopping at the local LCGSO ... sharing the same parking lot ... in the same beautiful beach town ... on the same beautiful sunny Southern California day. Well, actually, there was one other person who smiled and said hello. He was the security guard at the entrance to the bank in the same shopping center as the LCGSO. But he doesn't quite count, since he wasn't shopping at the LCGSO ... and it's his job to smile and greet bank customers ... and to pummel any would-be robber-types ... who wouldn't smile to have that job?
Very Interesting, indeed ... maybe they thought I was the crazy one ... would anyone in their right mind ride a bicycle to the LCGSO, smiling and saying hello to complete strangers? Maybe it was just the helmet ... and my too-lazy-to-shave grayish bearded face. Gotta go check out those stubble trimmers now ...
Until next time, smile at someone and say hello ... and have a beautiful day!