Riding my bike across Minneapolis to work, pondering the great mysteries of life, coming to the conclusion that its simply best to smile and be good to people, I come to the awkward intersection at 50th and Minnehaha Parkway. I and another man with two toy dogs are about to enter the crosswalk when a red extended cab pickup truck with a robust A on the side door, with three young men on the bench seat, pulling a compact skid loader on a trailer, rolls through the stop sign, parking the truck with the trailer hitch in the middle of the crosswalk.
I speculate to the man with the two toy dogs that the men in the cab must be doing work for the state. He suggests they are contractors, maybe working for the city. We wait for them to notice us, while they wait for an opening in the traffic on 50th.
Eventually they pull onto 50th, never actually aware we are here. We step into the crosswalk. A young woman in a black Corolla, who had been waiting behind the trailer, her elbow out the window, fingers twirling her dark hair, pulls into the crosswalk, oblivious. I stop. The man with the two toy dogs steps into the crosswalk, the woman in the corolla stops. He starts pounding on her hood with the palm of his hand, yelling, "Hello! Hello! This is a crosswalk. Hello! I'm a pedestrian and this is a crosswalk. Hello!" Clearly this man is not from around here. This is not proper Midwest passive/aggressive.
She looks at him not so much surprised or afraid that there is a man with two toy dogs pounding on her hood and yelling at her, but mostly vacant, even a little annoyed that she has been awakened from her neverland reverie.
We cross. On the other side of the street the man says, "Can you believe people?" The easiest thing to do would be to stoke his indignation. Instead, I say, "Oh, 95% of Minneapolitans are pretty good about yielding to pedestrians. We're all just a little distracted these days. Have a great week!" as I bicycle away. He yells, "be safe."
Ninety-five percent is probably a little generous, but he was angry and I wanted to diffuse that. I really don't have too many problems biking in this city. I did recently watch a middle-aged woman honk angrily at a man on a bike in a crosswalk, which she was trying to pass through, but that's no reason to condemn drivers et al.
Fact is, its easy to get lost in a motor vehicle. Climate controlled, personalized music, cell phones and reclining bucket seats. I'd rather face down a rhino than a driver in an SUV on his cell phone. As a bicyclist, I simply take it for granted that I am a small, mostly unprotected Homo sapien sapien in a world over-full with mechanical rhinos darting in every direction, and some of them are not going to be friendly.
Shortly after, I'm riding by Farmstead Park, thinking about checking in with the folks as Spyhouse Coffee to ask if I left my water bottle there, when I look down and there at the base of a tree is my water bottle.
****On a somewhat unrelated note, if you have time, google radio lab animal mind. If you listen to the program, pay special attention to the bookend animal stories in the front and back. Go ahead and skip through the blathering in between, especially the condescending scientist who talks about the great biodiversity of the Earth, and then acts as if whales, grizzlys and dogs are all the same.****