For What It’s Worth

28 Sep

Sour-Grapes-CentralLast weekend, after enjoying a lovely day of riding, which took a bit longer than anticipated, I was scurrying home for my dinner date. Traffic was getting heavier as I headed west, leaving the relative isolation of the Northern Neck and approaching Fredericksburg, a suburban metropolis perched along the busy I-95 corridor.

As I zipped through traffic, dodging the ever-present, inconsiderate left-laners, I noticed another bike approaching from the rear. Its rider who seemed to be in a bit of a hurry, too, tucked in behind me.

I actually managed to maintain a spirited pace for a good bit of time, zigging and zagging, smartly and safely, across the asphalt. I was in that pleasant zone where gaps between vehicles are large enough and the timing of the lights was firmly in my favor.

Inevitably, a red signal at a busy intersection forced me to stop. The bike I’d been seeing in my mirrors for miles pulled to a stop beside me. It was a big BMW sport-tourer, either a 1200 or 1600. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the guy lift his visor. I was surprised to see he was a fifty-ish Black man.

“How long have you been riding that thing? You’re pretty good!” he said with a hearty laugh.

I answered his question, laughing too. We chatted briefly, then the signal changed to green and we were off. Not long afterward, he peeled off and I continued on my own path.

I took what he said as a compliment. Some women may have been offended. I mean, he never would have said that to a guy, would he? You know, since it’s just assumed that a male should be able to ride.

Maybe he wasn’t thinking I ride well for a girl. Maybe he was just another rider who wanted to let me know he’d been having fun with me leading him swiftly through traffic. Perhaps most women he’d encountered were rookie riders. Or just plain pokey.

And what about my surprise that a middle-aged Black man was on a big BMW? Could he have been offended? Would he have known that, based on my personal experience, most Black men I’d seen riding were either on sport bikes or fully dressed HDs and/or Goldwings? (I’m not a brand snob. A ride is a ride.)

Getting even a little miffed about what he’d said would have made me an uptight person. There are FAR too many of them already in this world. It would’ve firmly planted me in the camp of people-who-take-shit-far-too-personally.

As much as I like people, I can’t help but get discouraged by society. Folks trashing each other on social media, just because they can. Or getting their panties/boxers all in a wad over something someone said, did, posted. Something they, the observer, took the wrong way, or didn’t take the time to even think about. People harboring petty jealousy and hate, unaware of the malignant blackness those feelings feed in their hearts.

I didn’t mean for this to be a rant, really. It’s been a difficult year. Not so much for me, personally, although I’ve been a bit of a victim, too.

I just wish people would be nicer. No one enjoys a bunch of sour grapes.

14 thoughts on “For What It’s Worth

  1. I think you two might have mutually surprised each other, but as long as no one took comments the wrong way, no harm no foul.

    Social media has IMHO made people way to easily offended and sensitive. Can’t we all just get along?

  2. I agree with Trobairitz. Some try to read more meaning into a casual, friendly comment. People now days get offended way too easily. Add that to the anonymity provided by the Internet…

    • Yes, Richard. People don’t really think before they type, do they? Or maybe they forget there are real people at the other end of their attack? Either way, social media and the Internet in general bring out the ugliness in people, that’s for sure.

  3. Maybe I’m just seeing this through “guy eyes” (or in this case, maybe “white guy eyes”), but I think that such surprise is more often a reaction to seeing the uncommon than to seeing the unexpected or–perish the thought–the “unacceptable”: Surprise at the uncommon is not necessarily a judgement of it.

    Sooo many folks are way too quick to take offense, as though–for some–an element of Jr. High School mentality is remaining long after adolescence, as though their greatest aspiration in life is to be irretrievably offended.

    “This adjective (sensitive) once meant intensely aware of aesthetic and spiritual values; then it took on a sense of someone quick to resent slights; recently it has become a euphemism for someone incapable of coping with even the smaller demands of our daily practical life.”

    from Theophilus North (1973) by Thornton Wilder

    • Ry, I’ll go with the surprise at the uncommon. People ARE too quick to take offense. I know there are different sides to every story/person, but people have become so uptight!

  4. Don’t read too much into it….we’re all a product of our life’s experiences and perspectives. Sure, you surprised each other but it was a pleasant exchange so it’s all good.

    As to a black man atop a BMW GS….that’s different. The one National BMW Rally I attended reminded me at times of a Geriatric convention for men of the caucasian side of things…..is that racist? I don’t think so, but some folks would be outraged. Folks are too sensitive these days. Life’s too short, let’s go ride.

    Oh, and if you want different, try a Chinese guy, geared up like a Beemer rider, atop a Russian sidecar rig…..now that’s different!

    • Dom, your comment made me laugh, especially this bit, “Oh, and if you want different, try a Chinese guy, geared up like a Beemer rider, atop a Russian sidecar rig…..now that’s different!”

      I wasn’t offended in the least. I love joking around with people. I’ve just become quite disgusted lately by the meanness of people. And people who pretend to be someone they are not. Fake people in particular who act all nice and caring on the outside but really have a black, jealous, vindictive heart. Evil comes in many forms.

  5. I’m with you, I don’t get all bent out of shape about little things, life is way too short to be freaking out over passing comments. I am finding the ‘hating’ to get a little much on all social media. It seems someone always has an axe to grind about something. I have refrained from posting on threads, because it just invites harassment. I just wish people would look at the broader picture or take a step back and really think about things before posting sometimes. One thing social media does well is enhance the anonymous & unaccountable people who comment. We are turning into a very negative world and its sad.

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