Monday, 31 October 2011

The Surly Slob

Firstly my apologies to regular readers for not posting anything new for almost a week but I have a few posts "up my sleeve".  No, the title is not a reference to myself hopefully but to a driver I encountered this morning on my ride in to work.

For a while now I have had in mind putting together some groups of drivers, based on my cycling experience but progressed no further until now. Probably a huge amount of stereotyping to come.   Here goes.

The Surly Slob

Imagine the scene.  A narrow country lane, room only for one vehicle at a time along a 300 yard stretch.  Coming towards me was a refuse lorry complete with lots of flashing lights.  I stopped and pulled in just off the road into a convenient passing place.  The truck drove up towards me and stopped in order to empty a wheely bin and it was at this point I clocked the driver.

He was slumped against the door as he pulled up, looking as if he having a doze and driving on a kind of auto-pilot.  He just didn't seem to move or even notice I was there, so as he was stationary and there was a space I made a move to ride passed him.  In doing so I smiled at him but he didn't react at all although he must have seen me.  There he was, slumped against the door, one hand on the steering wheel, motionless and staring into the far distance.  Was he "on something"?  Was he miffed at his colleagues or me as a cyclist wanting to share the road?  Was he feeling superior in some way?  Perhaps a team leader and being cool about it?  Perhaps demoted and taking umbrage?  Whatever was going on, he was not happy:  He was surly.

He is not alone.  He reminded me of those drivers who feel easily wronged when they get held up through someone else's mistake.  They show their indignation by slumping in their seat with a hand draped over the top of the steering wheel, maybe visibly sighing to convey their impatience and annoyance.  Some might think they'll be drumming their fingers on the dashboard for everyone to see but no, they're too lazy for that.  Another feature are the shades in an attempt to look cool.  Nobody is impressed by this nowadays.  Grow up.

So what kind of car do they drive besides refuse trucks?  

As they're wannabee climbers in their world - so maybe older and affordable German executive cars.  If they ride a bike almost certainly it will have started life as a cheap mountain bike, probably flat-packed from a supermarket and be the wrong size.  Naturally it will have suspension front and back, lots of gears and have had little use.

How can a cyclist manage them?

Don't antagonise as you don't know what's running through their mind or completely know how they'll react; move on, leave them and try not to feel offended.  The chances are nothing would happen, they'll remain slumped until they get a chance to move on.

And you?  Have you encountered the Surly Slob?

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