Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Fight! Fight! Fight!

Note:  Actor participating in a reenactment

I was in three confrontations on the ride to work this morning.  The blow-by-blow details:

Confrontation One
Location:  Bike path surrounding Columbia Golf Course
Nemesis:  Squirrel
The majority of my ride to work can be accomplished using bike paths rather than roads.  Using only roads gives me a bit of a straighter shot, but I enjoy taking the paths and the ride is much more scenic, not to mention serene.  The first path I jump on surrounds the Columbia Golf Course in Northeast Minneapolis.  Like any golf course, this one is jam packed with squirrels doing their squirrelly things.  I don't pay them much attention as they generally stay out of your way.  This morning, a squirrel was munching on what must have been a particularly tasty morsel on the bike path.  I fully expected the squirrel to wait until I was near enough to pose a formidable threat then scurry off the path, chattering squirrel cusses at me as I passed.  This squirrel, however, was not keen on giving ground to whatever it had found for breakfast.  Instead of preparing to dart away as I neared, it reared up and stared me straight in the eye, as if to say "Bring it".  Not to be intimidated by a squirrel, I barreled forward in the most unusual game of chicken I had ever been a part of.  At the last second, I caved and swerved left to avoid a collision.  Problem is, the squirrel had the same escape route planned.  As I swerved left, he jumped left.  At this point I shut my eyes, as any reasonable coward would do.  I immediately flashed to a tragic but inspiring story I saw on the news last night about a kid who is confined to a wheelchair after being attacked by a tiger.  As unfathomably awful as that must be, at least he can say a tiger caused his injury.  I was convinced I was going to have to live the rest of my life explaining how a squirrel had horribly maimed me.  Apart from the squirrel defying the laws of physics and changing the direction of it's leap mid-air, I can't explain how there wasn't an impact.  Shaken, I pulled over and looked back.  The squirrel was standing exactly where it started, guarding it's precious breakfast, staring at me in defiance.  It even started moving towards me again, as if saying "You want some more?".  I quickly pedaled away.

Confrontation Two
Location: University Avenue overpass
Nemesis:  20-something girl
On this stretch of my journey, the bike path lies on the left side of the road as it crosses the overpass spanning University Avenue.  In other words, although you are on a bike path, you are facing oncoming traffic rather than riding with it.  To make things more difficult, there is an exit ramp leading up from University Avenue which crosses the bike path.  Bikes have the right-of-way, as cars have a stop sign, but I have quickly learned that having the right-of-way is about as useful as being "only a foreign language short" of your college degree.  I spotted this nemesis early, speeding up the exit ramp with a cell phone in one hand and a cigarette in the other.  I also noticed her looking sharply to the left, making sure her path was clear to take a right turn at the top of the ramp.  Not once did she glance to the right, where the bike path and I were coming from.  As no cars were coming from the left, the stop sign became optional for the driver.  Meanwhile, realizing she wasn't going to stop, I had taken action to make sure I wasn't going to get flattened.  I slowed down, but still made it a point to get close enough to reach out and give the side of her car a gentle tap as she sped by.  Had she not been wearing a seat belt, I'm certain she would have jumped straight out of her vehicle.  She slammed on the brakes and looked at me, turning a ghastly shade of white.  At this point, I panicked.  I didn't think past the gentle "I'm here" tap.  Rather than give her a wave or a gentle, "Please be careful", I instinctively flipped her the bird and rode away.  In retrospect, I feel bad about this.  KT has (rightfully) long ago broken me of the road-rage middle finger salute, so I'm not sure why it was my natural reaction.  Yes, she was in the wrong and could have killed me had I not been paying attention, but my childish admonishment probably just makes her wish she had.

Confrontation Three
Location:  Work parking lot, Quebec Avenue North, New Hope
Nemesis:  Canadian Goose
There is a small pond in front of my work building which perpetually overflows and occupies a small corner of the parking lot.  A number of Canadian Geese have begun squatting in this corner of the parking lot and, as they tend to do, become quite protective of their territory.  I generally steer clear of them and take the long away around the parking lot as I am filled with equal parts disgust and fear of this particular species.  Today, however, feeling emboldened from my previous dust-ups, I decided they would move for me.  I pedaled towards them, slowly but confidently.  One goose in particular took notice of me early, craning his/her neck and letting out a few sharp honks.  Undaunted, I ventured closer determined not to be bullied.  I was going to win this battle.  Once I got within about twenty feet, however, I noticed something that quickly turned the odds against me.  Standing behind my nemesis were several small fuzzy little shit-spewing geese.  This was a new parent, and pardon my french, but you don't fuck with a new parent.  Too late now to change my course, I sped up hoping to get past before the goose went on the offensive.  No chance.  Poppa or Momma Goose began hissing wildly and giving chase.  I screamed like a school girl and pedaled like hell, barely escaping with my life.  Problem is, I am now stuck at work as I am too afraid the goose is waiting to finish the job.

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