Monday, August 20, 2012
Me, mine. Us, them.
"Huh," I say.
"Yeah, he says. "Taller than anything in SF, San Diego, or even LA."
"Huh," I say. And then an unexpected thing happens: I feel a flash of pride. As if this fact in some way reflects upon me personally, as a denizen of Seattle. As if I had anything to do with it. Which I didn't.
And yet, there it is, the strange little beast, pinging up inside me, poking a little thumb toward its puffed up little chest, wiggling its hips and squeaking: "Yeah, uh huh, we did that! Us! Not them! Fist-bump!"
This, I gather pensively, staring at the tall building, must be what sports fans feel when their teams win: a sort of senseless, tribal delight that has absolutely no connection to anything they have personally accomplished.
Can't argue with how it feels: powerful, compelling, insidious, pervasive -- tribalism. Wikipedia says: "People have postulated that the human brain is hard-wired towards tribalism due to its evolutionary advantages".
Evolutionary advantages. We win.
Posted by Sonia Lyris at 10:58 PM No comments:
Thursday, August 2, 2012
Could have been so much worse
Signal? Don't be silly.
When this happens there's not much time. You get one reaction, so choose wisely: a defensive move to get your delicate little self out of the way, or using the beep-beep. (It's only a horn if you have an aftermarket add-on. I don't.)
So I swerve left into the shared turn-lane which is, fortunately, unoccupied. Inside my helmet, I yell and swear loudly.
The Oblivious Moron drives forward. Since I'm going that way anyway, I follow, doing what people who've just had a narrow miss with oncoming traffic and the pavement do: I honk and gesture with my best what-the-hell gesture. Not, I hasted to add, the F-you gesture, which doesn't make anyone sorry. Do you really want to pick a fight with someone in a truck when you're on a motorbike in the middle of traffic? No, you do not.
From his side mirror I can tell that Mr. Moron sees me gesturing, but he doesn't look very sorry. So I follow with what I have come to view as the universal reprimand, the gesture that us riders resort to.
The slow, disgusted headshake.
Unmistakable in meaning but not so challenging as the F-you gesture, it is often the only thing that tells people what you really think of their sloppy, life-risking driving.
I wear highly reflective yellow and white protective gear. I stand out, day or night. But when I've just survived some OM's inability to see me, I find myself thinking that the head shake is a pretty weak tool for social change.
Then I remember. Years ago I was a passenger in a sportscar being driven by someone who, usually pretty alert, inadvertently moved into a lane already occupied by a motorcycle, who -- like me -- was forced to move left to avoid us. A minute later the motorcycle pulled up even with us, looked in through the passenger window, and slowly shook his dark, helmeted head.
I still feel bad and I wasn't even driving.
So maybe it works. Or maybe it just works on me.
The bottom line is this: I'm mighty glad that I was in good enough shape after that encounter to be able to shake my head at all. It could have been so much worse.
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