Intolerance

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It sort of amazes me how intolerant and impatient we can all be sometimes. You’d think Americans would be more tolerate than not, but in my opinion, that isn’t the case.

I was out riding yesterday, Sunday, and twice during the ride, guys flipped me off. I have no idea why. I was riding by myself, close to the right side of the road, I hadn’t run any lights or stop signs. And still, honk, then finger. That is pretty unsual in Kansas, but it’s becoming more common, which isn’t a good sign. It’s funny, or maybe not, that I seem to get these types of encounters more on Sunday mornings than any other day of the week.

I wonder why so many people get worked up about such nothings. I realize that I sort of live in a little bubble, not really participating in “normal” life like other people and I am pretty far removed from all the anger and rage that people tend to display when certain subjects come up. As far as I can tell, those subjects are, gun control, abortion, politics, and now healthcare. There are lots more, but those are for sure.

The healthcare thing is weird. The post I did last week was just about the acknowledgement that the healthcare system was broken. And that it was time to address that. Then so many people started going off about how screwed we were because of Obamacare or just the opposite. That wasn’t the intention of the post. I think everyone agreed, does agree, that our healthcare system is majorly fucked up, but when someone wants to address it, then everyone is up in arms.

What if you have a leak in your roof and you live somewhere it rains all the time. And the leak is right over your bed. All night it rains and you get wet and can’t sleep. You get up the next morning, having not slept and have to drag through the day. If you just keep status quo, eventually something is gonna give. Your health, you job, your roof, something. So, you decide it is time to fix the leak. You might not know anything about fixing roof leaks, but you need to try, to attempt a fix. So you go up on the roof and survey the situation and then do the best you can to fix the leak. Hopefully you do an okay job and you fix it, but since you don’t know anything about roofing, it is most likely it is more complicated than that. So you learn from your mistakes and then do it again until you do fix it.

That is the way I see the healthcare issue. The problem, problems, are huge and very complicated. The system is substantially broken. But, we needed to start to attempt to fix it. Like I wrote in my post, I really don’t have any idea if the Affordable Care Act is a good thing, a great thing or a complete bust. But, it is at least climbing the ladder to try to fix the leak. If it doesn’t work, then everyone should use it as information to try to do it better.

It is going to take a long time to get the healthcare system corrected. It isn’t going to be a short term thing. But the way everyone, all of us, seem to have such intolerance towards the process, it seems that we are all sabotaging the process of fixing the very thing that, we all agree, isn’t close to right originally, by being intolerant of ideas that we really don’t know much about.

The same goes with our politicians in Washington. We hire them to work for us. To have different view, but to be open to what is best for all. But, that isn’t the case anymore. They have taken such permanent sides that the system comes to a stand still. Nothing gets done. It’s all finger pointing and posturing. If Washington DC was a private corporation, all the officers would be fired by now. But they don’t, because there aren’t any repercussions to their unwillingness to compromise. Life always has small compromises. It should be no different in politics. Intolerance and politics are like oil and water. It used to be different, I don’t understand the change.

It seems to me that as we age, we should be more tolerate and open to new ideas, but it seems to be just the opposite. As people age they seem to be more set in their ways. You think that over the years you’d have so many more experiences, with so many more outcomes, that you’d realize that they are lots of solutions for the same problem. I’m not sure why we don’t use our life experiences and apply them to other problems?

Anyway, most of the people reading this have something in common, the bicycle. The love of the bicycle. It is such a simple thing. A silly thing that makes us happy. We put a lot of importance on it. We all use it for different reasons and get different pleasures and results from the one common thing. We are part of a big tribe. We need to understand even though we all have one common bond, we also think a lot different than one another. But, those differences shouldn’t be deal breakers. We need more tolerance.

The guys flipping me off yesterday seemed pretty intolerant to me. It was a weekend and I wasn’t slowing them down at all. I’ll never understand why a guy riding a bike can bother somebody so much that they get enraged. It seems to be the way our society is heading now. Maybe after the healthcare issue “is solved”, we can work on that a little.

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29 thoughts on “Intolerance

  1. Bob

    As far as our legislators are concerned it’s easier to move the bed than it is to spend the time fixing the leaking roof.

     
  2. Ken

    I think a lot of the deal with these guys flipping you off is this country’s odd notion of what it means to “be a man.” If you’re on the road riding a bike instead of driving a massive pickup truck, you must be a “pussy.” The guy who lives next door to me seems to want to attack me when I roll out my driveway on my bike for a ride. He shakes his head and makes sure I see he’s deeply offended. He dresses in camo a lot and has the barbed-wire bicep tattoo, while I dress for my rides in tight black shorts and a dopey helmet. As an aside, this is the guy who this fall came out with his massive leaf blower and blew all his leaves over onto my yard. It’s sort of like that.

     
  3. The Cyclist

    These days you need to drive a truck and look like a gansta rap star to get respect of any kind. On the far other side of the spectrum is the lonely cyclist in Lycra tights. Not surprising thís planet is going to hell. Environmentally, and in every other respect too.

     
  4. scott

    in 35+ years of commuting/racing i’ve given a great deal of thought to the subject of the ever increasing hostility exhibited by drivers. the only thing that makes any sense is that, not unlike internet behavior, perceived anonymity makes it much easier to vent with little chance of repercussion. i can’t help but think that the pace of our lives, and the sense of losing control, is a significant factor. aside from the obvious danger to cyclists, it’s really pitiable. what a sad way to go through life!

     
  5. The Angry Singlespeeder

    “An mind is like a parachute, it only works when it’s open. But a closed mind is much more aerodynamic, as you speed towards an inevitable death.” – Brock Dickie.

     
  6. Rod

    I love road cycling and live in one of the best places in the country to ride…North San Diego County. Plus we have some of the fastest cycling mofos I’ve ever seen…me not being one of them. Drivers here are pretty cool, I’ve never had beer bottles thrown at me when I’m on the bike likes I used to when I lived in coastal North Carolina.
    That being said, there’s nothing like MTB-ing at my place in the mountains, which is at 6000′ and I can go for miles on pristine singletrack and never see another cyclist and for sure never get hassled by a-holes in cages. So for those of you hard-core roadies out there, embrace the dark side once in awhile and get offroad. Plus (I’m ducking here) the majority of offroaders are pretty cool people, as opposed to some of the massive egos seen on the road.

     
  7. Wildcat

    I don’t care for sterotypes or lables and etc.

    I drive a truck and wear camo and love guns and hunt.

    I am also a road cyclist that wears Lycra and votes Democratic.

    I like hip-hop, but also like classic country and smooth jazz.

    Can’t we all just get a bong?

     
  8. Bob Kennedy

    I’ve been riding since the “10 speed boom” of the mid-1970s. I actually think motorists are more respectful now than back in the day. I have noticed that motorists are more likely to be agressive on Fridays, Sundays (post church goers are the worst!), and in particular, extended holiday weekends. My theroy is the emotional stress of family, extended family interactions, and duties. I think the whole thing with drivers “flipping off” bikers is the bully thing — certain types will do it if they know they can get away with it.
    It is funny how much it can ruin a ride — the tranference of someone’s ill will upon us. It does get to ya, but I try not to let it….

     
  9. Oldster

    That was me with the finger, I also yelled “get a job”

    Drivers are way more friendlier today than they were in the 80’s/90’s

    Rarely ride the road anymore as you are way less likely to get crushed by a car on the mountain bike. My big fear is the distracted driver that is busy fooling around with the AC/radio/cell phone etc. They can turn you into a grease spot, cop to the event, pay a few hundred quid and go on with their lives. Way too many distractions for today’s driver and I don’t plan on being one of them

     
  10. Joe

    Maybe technology will come in to play and help stifle hostile drivers at some point. I have heard of riders now using front and rear go-pro camera’s in case there is an altercation with a motorist, same with drivers who are now using dash cam’s continuously. While not practical right now I bet camera technology continues to get better and cheaper to the point where you mount a tiny camera on your bike in case of incident, maybe if motorists are more aware that they are being filmed they would be less likely to be so hostile when they know they aren’t guaranteed anonymity

     
  11. mark

    Experienced plenty of idiot drivers during my stint in the KC area. Everything from getting buzzed to having some kids actually hit me with a plastic 2-liter Coke bottle as they drove past. Didn’t matter where you rode either. Ride throught the “alfluent” areas, and its just more expensive vehicles buzzing you driven by people suffering from “affluenza”. Even worse if you tried to avoid traffic by going out into the “unincorported” areas. I stick to very popular road ride routes these days, or just stay off-road whenever possible.

     
  12. Thad W

    I too drive a big truck, wear camo, shoot guns, eat animals , read the bible and don’t think the world is burning up due to the combustion engine. BUT,…… I am also a bike racer who has spent more time on the road than most. Over the last 20 years I have been hit with cans, given the bird more than once a week, shot with a potato gun and had a hand gun shot over my head. The one thing in common with the people who did these acts was that they were JERKS/IDIOTS, fill in the blank. It just wasn’t trucks with McCain/Palin stickers on the bumper.
    The issue seems to be that there are bad people in the world that do bad things and there are good people that sometimes do bad/stupid things. Tolerance is a great word and a great thing to be at times, but there is a lot of judgment that comes from people who call themselves Tolerant and label others UN-Tolerant. Tolerant it seems, is the PC thing to say that you are today. I would really have to know someones heart to make a judgement about if they were tolerant or not. When i get the bird, I am quite sure they are being a jerk, don’t know if they are UN-Tolerant and need to be sent to the concentration camp.

     
  13. Dan

    Its easy to get a power rush when you lash out at a defenseless person on a bike with two thousand pound of medal surrounding you.

     
  14. Rich

    That is why I ride 90% of the time off road or on rail trails. I’m lucky to have both nearby so I can avoid the close encounters with drivers. I also run, walk and bike at the state park near my home which has 3 loops of about 10 miles. I have noticed that if I walk people usually are friendly, run and they are slightly more reserved, bike and they are aggravated with you.

    I have one encounter that sticks with me. I was on the rail trail and had to pass an entrance to a grocery store. The cars were stopped for a red light and I was able to cross (legally). This young lady flips out and starts screaming Fn biker, I stopped and turned around and saw that she had two young children with her, nice.

     
  15. Chris G

    Interesting subject. Having lived in Canada now for 9 years after 40+ years in the states, it’s pretty easy to view the difference in cultures. In America, there is simply a higher level of anger/hostility built into the culture, and it’s been aggravated quite a lot in the last ten years due to economic conditions getting worse for most and I assume personal feelings of control are reduced due to corporate and gov control. Of course we have the choice to participate as individuals in the frenzy, the emotional aspects. I meditate a fair amount and stay unplugged from TV news, where I recognize overwhelming corporate bias and agenda. I hope that people can become more aware that the smoke screens from corporate culture and the US gov are massive, and that this awareness could lead to change. Theoretically in this democracy the entire government could be replaced almost overnight, but that would require a big shift in public priority, and probably a breakdown in the current personal belief systems of at least 60% of people. It’s my dream that a public realization about the obviously false 9/11 Commission report could be an effective catalyst to help rip down remaining loyal belief that these entities are altruistic. They are not, and they are capable of a significant misbehavior. The reason 9/11 is a perfect subject is that public realization of the…untruth… would cause no economic or other physical hardship. (The scientific evidence is overwhelming in revealing the official story as false in minutes. It’s all available in a couple of one hour documentaries on Youtube, one good link below if anyone has interest.) So, I’m dreaming of a general wakeup in America that would help to heal a bunch of the anger and hostility. Until then, I suppose we can just remain as compassionate as possible. Your voice, Steve, has a calm and sensitive take on things anyway, which is surely helpful. Thanks.

     
  16. The Cyclist

    To y’all who get off on dressin up in camo, driving big trucks and firing guns at things and living creatures to make yourselves feel like real men I can only say that this planet would be a lot better place w/o y’all here. You’re all pathetic to say the least.

    This shit happened to me a couple years ago. I was peacefully riding my bike down a country road on a sunny day with great visibility. The road was empty apart from an oncoming truck going at legal speed. All of sudden a black NAVIGATOR or some similar shit is flying out from behind that truck at twice the legal speed aiming right at me, on my side of the road obviously not giving a fuck about me being there. At the last moment I decide to steer my bike into the ditch in order to avoid a certain death only to see the fat fuck in his Lincoln blow by me like I don’t exist. On his freaking cell phone with only his left hand barely holding the steering wheel. This incident kinda made me realise that something really fucked up is happening to the human race and our society in general.

    And this wasn’t even in US. This shit is just spreading all over the world at the speed of bad news and we all know where it’s coming from.

    I watch Sopranos and like a tune by ASAP occasionally too, but some ppl out there has apparently lost their ability to keep apart real life and fiction or maybe their lives are so goddamned sad they need to pretend being someone else to get anything out of it.

     
  17. Ken

    Thad,

    While there are always exceptions to the rule, and you may well be one, the fact is that the way people choose to display to the world does say a lot about them. To paraphrase Bill Parcells, “We’re what our record says we are.” You chose in your comment to bring in religion, guns, political views and global warming opinions, so it seems you’ve been given some sort of ideology checklist; I’ll leave those out of the discussion as I’m neither a conservative nor a “PC liberal.” But anybody who spends any time traveling the roads of the USA knows that a dude in a gigantic pickup truck (particularly a squeaky-clean one that shows no indication it’s used in any line of work, such as construction, etc.) is probably more inclined to drive aggressively, just as a middle-aged guy in a Red Porsche is possibly having a midlife crisis. Cars serve, for many, as avatars to tell the world who we are – or better, what we are desperately trying to be. Such as the guys who hang the rubber scrotums on the back of their pickup trucks – they’re making a statement to the rest of us. I’m a 6’2″, 200-lb ex college hockey player who took up cycling because it was a great transition from team sports to an individual sport I could do around career and family. It’s enjoyable and so far as I know, harms no one, unless you count being on the shoulder of the road, pedaling along.
    If I got one of these guys out of their monster truck, I could handle myself just fine one-on-one. But I’m sitting on a 16-lb bike as the guys in the 5,500-lb trucks blast by way too close, or screw with me, or throw shit, or give me the finger for making him “swerve” 6 inches to go around me. And they do all of that.
    We’ve all had that experience of hyper-aggressive “tough guys” playing out their own psychoses on the road. If you drive such a truck, but you also ride a bike, I’m guessing you’re one of the good people who doesn’t take out your own frustrations by giving the finger to a guy on a bicycle.

     
  18. Aaron

    I’ve been riding & racing on the road since the mid 80s throughout this fine country. Like many/most of you, I’ve been sworn at, given the bird, had cans, bottles, and ice-balls thrown at me, had cars hit me, swerve at me, and even been shot at. We can all generalize about the type of person doing these things, but there is nothing more cowardly than attacking someone for riding their bike and then driving away.

     
  19. mike crum

    sad thing about the bad angry drivers throwing shit, honking at you for no reason, flipping you off etc… it’ll only geyt worse. people are just angry. everyday life.. kids, not enough money, bad job, old car. expenses on everything.. not the simple time like my dad told me of.. only gonna get worse..thats why , i think, people go off and shoot everyone from time to time..sad!! out training and some idiot tries to hit you or see how close they can come… crazy people.

     
  20. Bill K

    I don’t let it bother me, at all. I smile to myself when people in cars try to scare me. and act like total morons.

     
  21. Tommasini53

    ditto on the extended holiday weekends…always seemed odd to me. but the family stress might be the problem.

     
  22. Wuzfastnowimnot

    Steve, I get the same thing all the time here in Virginia. I live outside DC. But the real irony for me is I often get the same ire from motorcycle riders. Our two wheel brethren! Seems mostly the BIG BLACK V twin guys who are the culprits. Yup a stereotype. I also ride motorbikes. I’ve got BMWs and Triumphs. I get the same crap from the same group cuz I ride year round, rain or shine and wear full gear.

    Asshats abound everywhere and I don’t get it.

     
  23. lastcardjb

    Steve, the problem is you are being associated with all other cyclists. Just as a moderate Republican or Democrat is associated with the extreme reaches of their party.
    When my sons, daughter in law or other family members ride, we obey the traffic signs, stop at lights, ride single file and generally enjoy ourselves. How often do you come upon a group ride (more then 2 riders) on a Sunday. Passing without signaling, blowing through lights and signs, riding 3 abreast (or more) on a busy road with no regard to traffic and generally acting like jerks who will flip you off if you happen to nudge your horn so they will allow you to pass safely? The solution is for the riding community to police themselves. If you are part of a group who are acting up then to do nothing is giving tacit approval to their actions. Speak up – it is good for all. Sorry if I sound cranky, just trying to add perspective.

     
  24. Ken

    Hey Bob,

    No, try reading my comment again. It’s about how people CHOOSE to display to the world. To equate skin color with someone’s choice to buy a big truck or be aggressive on the road totally lacks any logic. So you bet wrong. Way to play the race card, though!

     
  25. Double D

    There are a couple problems with this. First, this idea that people now are becoming particularly rude. On the one hand, there’s the issue of subjectivity in what you’re saying. But also, I think we think too highly of humanity. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t be polite and good people, but I think it’s a terrible mistake to conclude that people were any better at any point in time.

    Next, your view of government is fundamentally statist. I do not mean this to come off in an impolite manner, but have you considered the necessity of the state, or even the morality of a entity that kills and pillages its way through history? Yes, the political system is very broken in this country. Actually, it’s that way in all countries. That’s precisely what government is, and believing that there is a long-term solution to fixing the problems we face through government is asinine.

    While your point about us all being part of a “big tribe” is a seperate problem (this isn’t to contradict, though, the fact that we are all human and have inherent worth and rights from this), there’s a bigger issue that you pass over. Yes, we need more tolerance. But we need tolerance for those of us who don’t want to live under the state’s crushing boot, have the state rob earnings at gunpoint, see the government violate our natural rights, and witness the state claiming legitmacy over this territory and population waging war and killing throughout the world.

     

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