I’m the kind of person that has amazing comebacks. They are witty and clever. But unfortunately, they come to me hours (mostly days, sometimes weeks) after the moment when I need them most. The majority of my best comebacks are never said out loud.
For example, I was cycling to work one morning and was at the entrance to a cycle-friendly path. There was a group of girls who were quite done up (big hair, lots of beautiful eye makeup, bright red lipstick, etc) coming my direction up the path. As I politely and slowly passed them, one of the girls yelled –
‘Bikes aren’t f$!&@* welcome here!’
I didn’t process what she said till it was too late. Of course, I spent the next half an hour dreaming up, conjuring, designing, and developing the perfect comeback line.
‘You’re ugly when you’re hateful.’
I judged my audience. From her choice of clothes and makeup, I assumed she spent a lot of time on her appearance. And to be honest, the memory of her hateful expression is still burned in my brain. It was really the perfect comeback line despite the fact that it was never said.
Since starting to cycle, I’m still amazed at these encounters. It’s almost as if we lose our humanity on the streets and forget we are all just people. Can you imagine yelling at a fellow movie-goer or at someone who nudges you when walking past in a shop? I realise there is more at stake on the streets – I realise mistakes could mean life and death. But isn’t that why there should be more camaraderie? Isn’t that why there should be more high fives and overall bikeable good?
While I do get that there are times when we need to let each other know certain things – maybe our lights aren’t great or we’ve made a bad decision. But let’s not allow that to be the only time we speak to one another. I challenge others to take advantage of opportunities to demonstrate bikeable good. Next time I see the guy on the trail that balances his lycra look with a splash of cut-off denim shorts, I’m going to tell him I like his bikeable style.
In the meantime and only if required, I want to be better prepared with a bikeable basket of comebacks.
I’m not looking for mean hurtful comebacks that perpetuate this never-ending cyclist vs other journey-makers dynamic. I want ones that make people think. I want ones that totally diffuse a situation. I want comments that could result in laugh or even a high-five at the end. I realise my ‘ugly when you’re hateful comment’ might not have resulted in a bear hug, but maybe she would think twice next time she yelled at a stranger in public.
So bikeable friends, give me your best shot. Give me your comeback that will restore humanity in our cities.