I Met a Man Down on His Luck

Tonight, as I was cycling home from training, as I was crossing an intersection, a guy on a scooter came up from behind me and yelled some profanity at me. We were both coming from the same street, but he was taking a right, while I was crossing the intersection only to take a right afterwards. We both ended up on the same road, going the same direction, just on opposite sides of it.

As I cycled onward, I saw him waiting at the next traffic lights and I noticed that it was a food delivery scooter. One with a box on the back to keep food warm. I recognised the sign on the box as being the fast food place on the ground floor of my apartment building.

As I continued cycling home, I lost sight of him and started thinking about what happened. I suspected that considering the speed he was maintaining he had to slow down to allow me to cross the street before he could take a right turn. The road that I was crossing, and he was turning into was a priority road, so we would have to yield to any traffic coming from it, but the road was empty as I crossed it. The same traffic rules applied to the both of us, and as I was going straight, and he was turning right, I had right of way. I think he was just annoyed that he had to slow down.

I beat him home because I saw the scooters that the fast food place uses standing out in front, and the one in question wasn’t there yet. I briefly considered talking to the owner of the place to tell him that he’s employing a prick, but just as I decided that I was going to go inside and forget all about it, the guy rides up and parks his scooter.

I had to talk to him. So I waited for him to notice me. The brief exchange that I had with him made me glad that I didn’t end up talking to his boss. It went something like this;

Me: “Hey man”
Him: “Eh, hey…”
Me: “I thought I’d come and say something, since I didn’t really appreciate what you did back there.”
Him: “Oh, that was you? I had right of way!” (He sounded a little bit shocked.)
Me: “No you didn’t, we were both coming from the same road, so the same rules applied to us, except I was going straight and you were turning right.”
Him: “Man, it was nothing personal. I just didn’t see you and what I said was more out of shock.” (He looked miserable.)
Me: “Okay, had a bad day?”
Him: “Yeah, I try really hard, you know,” as he pointed at the fast food place, “and today I had three traffic violations, I hit a parked scooter and then when this happened I just reacted.”
Me: “Oh man, I hope your day improves.”
Him: “No, my day won’t improve. I’m misery incarnate.”

Now, it’s interesting, because that last bit he said in a way that I wouldn’t have expected. You see, he was a guy in his early twenties, probably not very well educated, tall but not healthy looking, wearing tracksuit bottoms and faded trainers. He had a type. And what he said in Dutch was “ik ben ongeluk zelve”, which is old-fashioned and almost poetic.

He apologised again. I told him to hang in there (“Sterkte.”) and he wished me a pleasant evening. I’m really glad I didn’t talk to his boss. I think that guy has been having a rough couple of months. Hell, perhaps even a rough couple of years.

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