A week or so ago, I was innocently riding my bike down the street near me, concentrating on the obvious things like not falling off and watching out for cars and small children (it was the school holidays) when a ute went past me, with the driver hanging out the window yelling something at me. I didn’t actually hear the words he said, but the tone wasn’t pleasant and honestly, how many young idiots in utes yell nice words at fat ladies on bikes?
One of the benefits of wandering into middle age is becoming invisible to young idiots like that. So to say I was surprised and shocked by the whole encounter would be an understatement to say the least. By the time I’d collected myself he’d disappeared from view, and what would I do about it anyway? He may have been being encouraging? Anyway, I felt sort of squicky and uncomfortable all day, decided to give him the benefit of the doubt, built a bit of a bridge and got over it and as if I would ever run into him again to confront him about it anyway.
Fast forward to yesterday… I was running really late for work (damn daylight savings) and drove to work. Anyway, all flustered (daylight savings, who’d have it) and went the wrong way out of the driveway. So, a quick detour down the next street and whadderyou know… there’s the very distinctive ute that went past me. I spent all day yesterday internally debating the whole thing about whether I should go and confront him or continue to walk away.
I’m not the most confrontational soul, and I’ll do anything to avoid an argument. But this wasn’t an argument. This was someone else going out of his way to make someone else miserable for no reason but his own amusement. I was minding my own business when he chose to yell at me, and his actions impacted on me in such a way that I was really quite upset, whereas if he’d chosen to mind his own business too – both of us would have continued to have a pleasant day.
This morning, I confronted him.
I told him he would have no idea who I was and no idea why I was there, but when I reminded him, I think he knew . Of course he denied it, then said if he did do it, he didn’t remember what he said. I very calmly (on the outside) told him that his actions made me feel uncomfortable, he insisted he was yelling encouragement and if I didn’t hear his words, how do I know he wasn’t? One raised eyebrow from me. He didn’t continue to insist he was being encouraging. He did apologise a couple of times (to his credit), and I told him that next time he went to yell out the window at anyone, he should think about how his mum or his sister or his girlfriend would feel to be on the receiving end of what ever it was he said.
Then I continued on my way to work (still shaking like a leaf, I might add!), and if I’ve made him feel as uncomfortable as he made me feel and made him think about it for a second next time he decides it’s an ace idea to shout out the window… He’s only 19 or 20, so he’s got 60 years ahead of him of being a dick, and maybe I might have re-directed his path a smidgeon. Maybe I haven’t, but for one small moment he knew what it was like to be me.