On a bright day, on a bike-path somewhere in Melbourne, a bike rider rode by another rider very quickly and without warning.
The second rider called out ‘Passing on your right,’ to make the point that perhaps barreling by like he did was frightening.
The first bike rider lifted a hand, with middle finger extended in reply.
Five minutes later, the two riders met again at traffic lights.
‘Did you do the middle finger at me,’ asked the second rider.
‘You shouldn’t call after people,’ said the first.
‘I was just trying to say that it’s polite to let people know when you pass.’
The lights changed and the first rider took off, but not without calling over his shoulder, ‘I like the way you rewrite history to suit yourself!’
The second rider laughed aloud for three reasons. The first in total surprise at this line of reasoning, that the first rider was being slighted by the second. The second because of the over-the-top response, which appeared to imply the first rider was totally justified in both barreling by at a rate of knots without letting anyone know he was there. The last, was that the first rider didn’t give a right of reply, and wasn’t able to discuss the issue rationally. There was also, if the second rider was to be honest, a level of fear being laughed-off: the first rider’s response was disproportionate, it was angry and seemed, at least to the second rider, to imply violence.
The two riders met again at the next set of lights. They were separated this time by the road, the first rider taking a different path to the second.
‘Effective response,’ yelled the first rider across traffic with some vehemence.
‘I wonder if we have a problem, with you yelling across traffic?’ asked the second, but alas the first rider didn’t hear. Arguably, the first rider was deaf in all ways but his ears.