What would make a woman lean out of her car window and scream at a guy on a bicycle as she passes? I’ve been wondering about this ever since it happened to me several times over the summer. It still surprises me that it happened. I mean, Utah Valley is a pretty bike-friendly place. Bike lanes are common and traffic jams are not.
Despite what people may say about Utah drivers (always forgetting that they are referring to themselves), I’ve noticed that drivers usually keep an eye out for bikers; I’ve been saved more than once during moments of incaution by a cautious driver.
But some people are idiots. One day I was cruising down University Avenue, going 25-30 mph, and a woman passenger screamed so loud as she passed by that I almost swerved directly into her car. If a man on a bicycle collides with a swiftly moving automobile, it means blood. My blood.
I’m not excluded from this behavior, though. I don’t try to endanger the lives of other people, but I’ve said plenty of bad words from behind my steering wheel, words that I would never, ever say otherwise. Would I ever say these types of things to people’s faces? No. Would the passing screamer have endangered my life had she known me? Probably not.
So why do we do it? Why do we curse at people from our car windows or flip them the bird? Why do we get on the internet and say rude, disgusting, even threatening things that we would never say in any other social medium?
In those examples, we aren’t faced with the people that we are hurting, and I think that’s a big part of the answer. But we can’t forget that what we do affects those around us, whether we see them face to face or not. So please don’t scream at me from your car, and I promise I’ll try not to curse you from mine.