Being "That Guy"
He glared at me...for a long, long time. And he had every right to.
I was southbound on I-43 the other morning, cellphone in hand, chatting up a buddy while heading home. I was in the right hand lane, under pressure from mergers to move to the left. I checked the mirror, hit the signal and started making my move.
And then, I saw him: a guy on a motorcycle.
My tires had barely crossed the dotted lines on the pavement but I'm sure even the THOUGHT of my vehicle coming into his path was enough to make this poor guy fill his shorts. And, the fact that the guy behind the wheel was on the phone only added fuel to his fire.
He didn't let me off easy. The cyclist pulled slightly ahead of me but glared in my direction over his shouider for what seemed to be a very, very long time. And, he pointed. I couldn't read his lips (his helmet blocked his mouth) but I'm sure he was calling me everything but a child of God.
Rightfully so. I had it coming. Every ounce of it. In his mind, I'd become "that guy"--the inattentive driver who put more energy into a phone chat than traffic.
Excuses don't matter, especially to a guy on two wheels who saw someone on four come way too close for comfort. He wouldn't want to hear that someone else had driven my truck and adjusted the mirrors (I have them set in the new way taught to student drivers, extra wide to cover blind spots like the one the cyclist was in rather than the traditional configuration). I probably would've made the same mistake even if I WASN'T on the phone, and that my real mistake was in NOT double-checking my vehcile before I got behind the wheel. Chapter one in any high school driving clas says that you should adjust the seat/check the signals/position the mirrors before putting the key in the ignition.
None of it matters. I was still "that guy".
Take away from this what you will. We all make mistakes in traffic, some bigger than others. We've all been on both sides, either the one giving the finger and laying on the horn or the one left sheepish and embarrassed behind the wheel. You know. "That guy".
You usually forget such incidents after a few miles. It might come up days/weeks/months later when someone at a party starts talking about bad drivers and brushes with idiots on the road.
I'm guessing the cyclist I met up with this week won't forget me very soon. And, I still haven't forgotten him. Or, the feeling that comes with being "that guy."