Friday, January 15, 2010

the old man and the cars

"Sir I'm gonna call the police if you don't move."

How long the old man had been standing there, blocking the auto from entering the staff of life parking lot, i couldn't say. He looked frail but resolute. The woman in the car looked frazzled and ready to make good on her threat.

It wasn't my fight, I could have just rode by cuz' you know, a pedestrian can't block a bike and do I really care if car traffic gets hampered? Then again, she might very well run the old dude over or worse, call the pigs.

"Excuse me, are you okay?"

He turns to me slowly, says, "Are you a cop?"

"No."

"Well mind your own business. These people are trying to take my parking space!"

I gesture that I can't hear him (I can), he hesitates and then walks over to me. I gesture to the woman to pass, she hesitates, then drives in. Grandpa realizes he's been duped and starts telling me off.

"You oughta mind your own business. These people took my parking space, and I'm not gonna let em' in. They can't just do that."

"I'm sorry," I say, keeping the conversation chill - grandpa ain't gonna throw any punches. "I was just concerned. You were standing in front of a car and the lady was mad."

At that, he repeats himself and goes right back into the center of the entrance, just as another car is trying to pull in. The driver isn't sure what to do, but the car that tries to pull in behind her does.

"HONK! HONK!"

There are now two cars being blocked by grandpa - one halfway in the driveway, and another big-ass SUV in the middle of the street.

"HONK! HONK!"

Two more cars ride up and stop in front of the SUV, another car stops behind it. I move to the other side of the entrance.

"Sir!" I say, "Are you sure you're okay?"

The lady directly in front of him starts yelling for him to move, and the SUV dipshit behind her is only escalating things with her horn, a crowd is beginning to gather. I try to coax grandpa over so we can talk. He looks bewildered and frustrated, he steps aside and the lady passes, yelling, "What the hell is wrong with you?! You could have caused an accident!"

In turn, he starts yelling at me. "Why can't you mind your own business? These people are trying to take my parking space!"

"Look, I don't like the police," I say, "But there's a lot of people here who won't hesitate to call them on you."

"I don't give a shit! That's a night of free room and board. Fuck em."

"Do you need a place to stay? Are you homeless?" (He doesn't look homeless, but he doesn't look rich either)

"No, no, my car's over there. But they're trying to take all the parking spaces."

I look over to where his car is supposedly parked. There are plenty of open parking spaces. I think he's gonna have a stroke, that or senile.

"Which one?" I ask. He points to one not more than 10 feet away. "Are you sure you're alright?"

"I'm really not sure," he says. But at least he's out of the line of fire, as the autos are now passing both of us status quo. I'm already running late, so I apologize again, wish him well, and continue about my business.

At a distance, the staff of life manager and employees are watching, people have been complaining. I ride over and explain what I think happened. Later, the manager says the old man's son came out shortly thereafter, said, "Come on dad, let's go," and took off in the car he'd told me was his.

I reflect on the incident. The women in the cars being blocked refused to step out and engage grandpa and just kept yelling at him from their windows. Maybe they were scared of him, though he didn't look very threatening to me. Had no other pedestrian or bicyclist interfered, the drivers surely would have called the cops, and the cops surely would have just physically shoved him out of the way and then probably given him a stern lecture - all disrespectful behavior towards an elder as far as I'm concerned. And how easily car traffic can pile up! In a matter of seconds really. Like a bunch of fat cows, all unable to maneuver more than a few inches before their massive bodies and so very noisy. Sometimes it feels like drivers are hostages to their vehicles, and other times it feels like we're all hostages to their world.

i hope grandpa made it home alright.

4 comments:

Yokota Fritz said...

This kind of goes along with your things you won't see in your car post. You see people as human beings, not obstructions, when you travel at a human pace.

m e l i g r o s a said...

this is a great post. found it via cyclelicious.
you raise good points and how very inpatient people on cars are most of the time.
cheers from SF -meli

BobB said...

"and the cops surely would have just physically shoved him out of the way and then probably given him a stern lecture - all disrespectful behavior towards an elder as far as I'm concerned." Really? You can tell the future? Wow.

Captain Kickstand said...

I saw this on Cycelicious, too. Great story. Thanks for helping this guy out.