Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Sunny Downtown, Grumpy People

Leaf blowers. The city commission has been thinking about banning leaf blowers. The furor this plan caused was powerful enough to take one's mind off the possibility of war with North Korea. I have no idea how I feel about leaf blowers as I live outside the city. I don't like noise and when I do outdoor work I prefer to use tools over machines, however I don't think leaf blowers are used for more than a few minutes are they? I have no idea but the anger is amazing on both sides of the issue. 
Then the county voted to raise building height limits a few feet. The idea is to allow buildings to rise above floodwaters. My problem is my skepticism because when I am told  building codes across the county will allow for taller buildings, I imagine businesses cramming quarters for employees under the rafters. I see a future in this county that involves living essentially in the company store to keep the tropical retreat functioning for those that can afford it.
There is no doubt a fair bit of stress in Monroe County right now. I was riding out of Key West in the middle of the day last Friday when the car in front of me started acting bizarrely. Tires screeched and the vehicle lurched forward and braked suddenly as though it's tired antique clutch were giving out. The car itself was old, covered black primer a tiny little Datsun hatchback from another era. My camera was in the Vespa topcase else I'd have snapped a picture. Suddenly the rear window was filled by a thick head of dreadlocked blonde hair with long deeply tanned fingers reaching out making gestures that indicated I should fuck off at my earliest convenience. I was puzzled as I had no idea what offense I might have committed against the wild eyed driver of the ratty conveyance in front of me in line to escape Key West's pernicious influence.I pulled alongside.
She leaned out of her wreck of  Datsun, a  shadow of a car as unsafe as you like filled with junk, broken plastics inside the cabin wherein resided the mad octopus who started screaming at me about safety and being on my scooter and being too close to her mobile toxic heap. All this even though I was two scooter lengths behind her, and in no hurry to push the long line of cars that once again built up leading to the sole exit to the city. I felt absurd arguing with the creature and I tried to apologize for upsetting her even though I had no idea why she was upset. I pulled ahead and left her to rant alone in the hell of her unraveling existence.
A scooter pulled alongside, a man older than me on a Yamaha Zuma bearing a broad smile. That was fun he said. I looked at him and looked him in the eye: Was I too close? He laughed, she's crazy he said it's all in her head. We rode to the green light shaking our heads.He took advantage of commiserating with me to cut ahead of the traffic and I followed along wondering what is wrong with people. Quite a lot apparently.
Then that evening I set off from home refreshed and ready to deal with work and pulled into traffic behind an AT&T small van. He immediately got upset and slammed on his brakes and lit up his four way flashers which was no problem for me as I was holding my usual two second gap. But from there on, the AT&T guy held exactly to the speed limit or less, so  while the cars in front pulled away he was driving to rule. There were no passing spaces so I held back and enjoyed the afternoon. Then a large silver SUV arrived behind me and started showing signs of impatience at this stately progress. So I got an idea. I pulled to one side onto the shoulder and let the giant SUV through  then I pulled back into the roadway behind him. The AT&T guy didn't stand a chance. He could see me riding near the shoulder a couple of seconds behind the SUV but he had to speed up. The SUV couldn't pass thanks to the heavy flow of oncoming traffic but he rode that poor AT&T guy's bumper all the way to Big Coppitt where Highway One to Key West becomes a four lane. By the time we got there AT&T was  5 or more miles an hour over the limit and I was riding along as fast as I wanted thanks to the SUV.
So much anger, including each of my colleagues who suffered road rage incidents that evening. Perhaps it was something to do with the holiday, or imminent war with North Korea or something. Perhaps it's just that economical smart scooters have no place in a world which believes there is no substitute for size.