My neighbor, the guy I see in our parking garage, is upset at cyclists, as you've read in previous posts. He's been startled a few times by cyclists while walking on sidewalks he'd always thought were safe preserves for pedestrians.
And he's watched in frustration and anger as cyclists who were stopped next to him at traffic lights took off across the intersection before the light changed. My neighbor can't do that; why should those god-damned cyclists be able to? Isn't the law the same for drivers and riders?
He has never been hurt by a cyclist, never even brushed on the sidewalk. He has never been slowed in his motorized progress by a cyclist. He had to wait in his car until the light turned green no matter what the rider did.
He has not been injured or inconvenienced. His feelings have been hurt. Because he feels he is important and deserving of respect, when he is not treated as important he is hurt. He feels impotent and becomes angry. He just can't understand why cyclists behave as they do.
When I ride on the bike path or the road and I encounter other cyclists, I wave. When they don't wave back I feel hurt and baffled, sometimes angry. I can't understand why cyclists behave as they do. No respect.
Who am I to feel that cyclists should feel obliged to wave back at me? I don't know. Why should I care if they wave back at me? I don't know that either.
Am I lessened somehow by their non-waving? I am not. If no cyclist ever waves at me from this moment until I can no longer ride, will I experience pain or injury? I will not.
My neighbor and I are burdened by overgrown senses of self-importance.
If I want to wave at other riders, I can wave all I want. If he wants to stop at red lights and take off again when they turn green, he can do that unimpeded. No cyclist will prevent it.
I could recognize that my neighbor had not been injured or inconvenienced by the rude cyclists he told me about. I knew that the problem was his; he needs to be treated as someone special, someone who commands respect on sidewalks and at lights.
I did not realize I had the same need. I need reassurance that I am worthy of a returned salute, and all the cycling world should damned well know it. Sounds awful, explained that way, huh?
I'm grateful now that my neighbor chose me to unload on. I've never felt reluctant to unload on you, have I? Maybe you'll learn something about yourself from my not-so-well-founded bitching.
When we feel we've suffered personal injury but bear no losses or bruises, we may need to examine our values. Or maybe I mean value, singular: the overblown value we place on ourselves. Are we really injured?
If I'm grateful to my neighbor for illuminating his problem and mine, perhaps I should be grateful to each of the cyclists who didn't wave back. When I can genuinely feel that gratitude, I'll have made some progress... Wish me luck.