Thursday, November 27, 2008

Road Rage; An All Time Low.

My Thursday routine is to take the bus to work and run home. I see it as a double bonus, one less car on the road and I get a 90 minute work out for a 60 minute time commitment (i.e subtract the 30 minutes I would have burned had I driven home). I wouldn't call it a scenic run; much of it is through four lanes of carbon spewing, rush hour, high speed, traffic (Regent Avenue), but some parts are idyllic (Old St. Boniface and the Forks). Today's run capped an insanely busy week: three late evenings at work, several high level deadlines, a couple of off-site meetings, a staff meeting... you know the drill. I was looking forward to the time and space of a long run, the first run since last Sunday. I know from past runs that if I leave by 3:45 I can avoid running in the dark. I was out by 3:47 so I was feeling good. The sun was strong, the ice negligible, and the tunes were groovy. I walked over the Esplanade Bridge and quietly revelled in the beauty of the day. It was grand. Three miles to home and I'm feeling strong and happy to be alive. It was about that time, (on River Avenue) that things turned sour.
I was running on the sidewalk as I approached a parking lot driveway from the left. A driver of a white SUV was exiting the parking lot in the classic frantic driver pose.. head careened to the right looking for a break in traffic, guns it at the last second, and I, in full stride, smashed into the side of the SUV. I had no time to react and, had I tried to stop, the ice could have slid me under the vehicle. I remember a loud thud and my Garmin banging the vehicle. I regained my balance, cursed, and looked in the rear view mirror... there I saw a mad man. I shook it off and continued running. Several blocks later the white SUV guy pulls up along side, matches my pace, and starts screaming obscenities and threats. He wants me to stop so we can settle this in "fists". The whole time I didn't alter my pace nor did I make eye contact (those NVCI and WEVAS courses finally paid off). I stared directly ahead and kept moving forward... no eye contact, no response, the guy didn't exist in my mind. The screaming obscenities kept up for several blocks, pedestrians stopping in awe, until finally he sped ahead about a half a block and screeched to a stop. At this point I became fearful. I pulled out my phone and dialed 9-1 and kept my finger on the final "1". I decided that if he got out of the car I would complete the 9-1-1 call and exit stage left. He was big and ugly, but I'm fast and smart. To my relief, he stayed in the vehicle, gave me an one-fingered salute, and drove off into the setting sun. This was a terribly upsetting experience. I can honestly say that I feared for my safety.
Be careful out there folks. Look twice and never assume that the person behind that wheel is sane. Stay healthy, stay tuned. Cheers, M


Anonymous said...

Hi Michael
Glad to hear that you are okay. It shows that you can never assume that someone might stop when they should. I hope you took his license number down. Be careful out there. Jacques

Jen said...

How cow! That is quite the story. Glad you're o.k. I usually have the opposite fear of being out in nowhere land and having someone drive up to me not angry, if you know what I mean. I always have my cell phone handy too.

Anonymous said...

Holy smokes - some people are really messed up are they not. I think they go through life putting out the necesssary energy to draw in some hapless passerby on whom they can unload some the bubbling over poison that lives in them. It must be a horrible way to live. On another note, don't you just want to put them out of their suffering???? Maybe send them on a 10 km run in -10 degrees on an icy, snow covered roadway with lots of ignorant drivers whizzing by. You be careful out there. Fast and smart is good but stupid often carries a big stick or worse. H

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,

Years ago, I was cycling down Pembina Hwy. at 9:00 one Sunday morning. I was in the left-est lane possible (of 3 lanes), taking up about 1/4 of that lane, and there was not one other car on the road. A woman came up behind me in her car and proceeded to follow me for about a mile, right on my tail, honking and yelling at me through the window.

I don't know how people like her and your buddy last Thursday live. I guess that the body only requires a bare minimum of brain cells to keep function going. Just imagine what his life looks like.

I'm glad you're OK. Keep up the good role modeling. You're an inspiration!!

Love, J.