I reckon any road cyclist reading this will have had a similar experience to mine a couple of weeks ago. Cycling along the pathetically allotted bike lane, a van drove at me, entirely ignoring the road markings. The van stopped as I nearly came off, and before I even had a chance to steady myself the passenger leapt out and showered me with a torrent of abuse. In his infinite wisdom, I must have been ‘on drugs’ as I was clearly a ‘pathetic druggie’. His drivel escalated while I stood firm and pointed to the road markings, and he ended up being fairly threatening, looming over me and then, curiously, calling 999. I can’t remember what crime I had done that merited an ambulance/fire engine or police attendance. Funny that.
The whole mess caused a traffic pile-up and when I came to realise this, I moved away and let the van screech off. Needless to say I was livid – my threat system had of course kicked into full gear and I was left shaky and in need of talking the incident over and over to anyone who would listen. But after half an hour or so, still a bit shaky, I decided to try something new. I thought about my fiesty passenger friend and of his own threat system – how easily it had been triggered by my cycling toward him. I thought about a number of scenarios that could have created that red alert in him, and I wondered what had happened between him being a little boy (who in my mind was endearing) to this rageful man. Boy it must be exhausting being that angry. I dug a little deep for some compassion toward him, and when it came, my shakiness stopped and I felt better – calmer, more spacious in my mind and more able to soothe myself as against rage against the rage. I didn’t stop being angry however, nor believing this man had behaved badly, but I bounced back quicker and presumably stopped boring the pants off everyone else.