Thursday, January 5, 2017

Nobody's Driving

The word "hero" is bandied about rather cavalierly these days, but every so often somebody performs a truly selfless act of courage and bravery and thus earns the appellation.

What follows is a tale of heroism that falls decidedly under the "bandied about" category, but the mundanity of the circumstances and fatuousness of the protagonist should in no way diminish the thrilling nature of the actions described herein.

But first let's pause for a moment and honor America:


Now let's begin.

Yesterday afternoon I was returning by bicycle from the Westchester suburbs to my home in the Bronx, and our story takes place just south of the business district of the village of Hastings-on-Hudson, the wealthy river town the New York Times famously dubbed "Hipsturbia" back in 2013:

Having spent a fair amount of time in this village (it's less than 10 miles from my home and a frequent ride stop for me) I can assure you that the sobriquet "Hipsturbia" is charitable at best.  For example, while there is a gluten-free bakery you will not see anybody using a bicycle to get around town, and certainly not on a bicycle like this:


Sure, people may move there from Brooklyn, but they're the ones who never "got" the whole bike thing in the first place and have now embraced an auto-centric lifestyle with aplomb.  If you see someone who looks like that in Hastings you can be absolutely sure they rode up from the city.  You'll also never see that many people walking in town at the same time, and certainly not in such ebullient attire.  The most recent arrivals may be clinging to their Brooklyn Industries duds, but it only takes a year or two for their wardrobes to turn over and get supplanted by stuff from the upscale malls in the area.

Yes, these are suburbanites through and through, and my smug condescension towards them can only mean I'll be moving up there any day now.

Anyway, I'd just passed through the strip with the gluten-free bakery and the terminally uncool/borderline non-existent foot traffic when I encountered a double-parked SUV with the tailgate open as though someone had stopped to unload it.  However, as I passed the SUV I realized it was moving.  You know how it goes: you pass a stopped vehicle and the driver picks that exact moment to pull out into traffic, either because they didn't bother to check for bicycles, or because they did and they just don't care.

Naturally I turned to scowl at the driver, but as I donned my most withering expression I noticed there was no driver.  A cursory visual inspection of the interior also revealed there were no passengers either.  The car was just moving on its own, slowly, like it was trawling for a parking space.

I was of three minds at this point, as follows:

1) Not my problem and fuck this idiot, plus I'm going to be late to pick my kid up at school if I don't leave now so buh-bye;

2) Not my problem and fuck this idiot but it would be really entertaining to watch this play out so I should totally stick around and watch;

3) I should probably do something before another driver crashes into this thing or it pins one of these uncool non-existent pedestrians.

Now keep in mind my thoughts were not as well-ordered as they appear above.  Rather, each option sort of cycled through my brain alternately, over and over, like cards in a game of three-card monte.  Option #3 seemed particularly problematic to me since I had no idea why this car was driving itself, and I didn't want to mess with the thing for fear I'd hurt myself somehow, or else wind up behind the wheel when it lurched inexplicably and smashed through the plate-glass window of a gluten-free bakery.  Still, I didn't want anyone else to get hurt either.  So, figuring the driver couldn't be too far away, I began to yell:

"Hey, your car's rolling!," I cried, omitting the "you fucking idiot" out of sheer tact.

No response.

I repeated myself again and again, and my calls went similarly unheeded.

Having ticked that box, I moved onto Option #2.  However, to justify my gawking, I figured I'd film it under the guise of public service and share it with the world.  So I withdrew my phone and began to shoot.  Unfortunately, the whole time I thought I was filming I actually wasn't, so when I hit the red button to stop filming I actually started.  Here is the result:

video

Please allow me explain what you're seeing.  I'm still calling out to the idiot driver, who I suspect must be in earshot, in the vain hope that they'll take care of their own goddamn mess.  The car is now moving across the center line (miraculously there is no oncoming traffic at the moment) and is on a collision course with a parked Audi, possibly owned or leased by wealthy arrivistes from gentrified Brooklyn who have given up on being cool because they long for "good schools" and secretly hate bike lanes.  Part of me would very much like to revel in the soft crunching sound of this idiot's SUV meeting this brand-new Audi's shiny interlocking rings.  However, another part of me is moved to prevent this from happening.  I'd like to say this is because I'm a good person, but I don't think that's the reason.  I suspect the real reason is that all Americans are born with "consumerist original sin."  As such we are genetically programmed to respect status symbols, even while we may consciously resent them.  Indeed, I think the same misguided impulse that moved a bunch of poor white saps to vote for a billionaire douchebag is the same one that finally compelled me to put down my bike, run alongside the runaway SUV, open the door, depress the brake, and move the gear selector from "D" to "P."

(And yeah, I'm pretty sure it was actually in Drive and not just Neutral.)

Once I'd stopped the car--fully in the wrong lane now and mere feet from the parked Audi--I didn't have time to wonder what to do next because that's when the driver arrived, let out an exclamation in Spanish, and then went on about how sorry she was.  Given her timely arrival it seemed impossible to me she hadn't heard me yelling all that time, and I felt fairly certain she had probably been watching in a state of impotence as her car rolled away--which, if you think about it, is the default condition of most motorists.

And with that I took a parting shot of the offending vehicle and continued on my way:


The moral of the story is that most people out on the roads should not be driving, but you already new that.

Speaking of the total collapse of society, there's this:



The bike, aimed at 3 to 6 year olds, lets kids interact with gaming apps while pedaling. The Smart Cycle ($150) comes with one free app and works with four others, including SpongeBob SquarePants and Shimmer and Shine apps ($4.99 each).

The included app features an age-appropriate curriculum based on math, science and social studies.

"They're learning and mastering content as they pedal, fast or slow, forwards or backwards," Amber Pietrobono, a spokeswoman with Fisher-Price, told CNNMoney. "It's also how they level up in the games."

Hey, here's a good way to learn stuff while pedaling: RIDE A FUCKING BIKE TO SCHOOL!

Oh, wait, sorry.  I forgot we were talking about America for a second.

I'm sure everyone will be outraged that the little girl isn't wearing a helmet.

83 comments:

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

Podium?

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

2nd Scrani?

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

I'm your Uncle Bob!

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

I'm gonna stop and read it now, promise!

Ted K. said...

196. Revolutionaries might consider favoring measures that tend to bind the world economy into a unified whole. Free trade agreements like NAFTA and GATT are probably harmful to the environment in the short run, but in the long run they may perhaps be advantageous because they foster economic interdependence between nations. It will be easier to destroy the industrial system on a worldwide basis if the world economy is so unified that its breakdown in any one major nation will lead to its breakdown in all industrialized nations.

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

Ok, now I read it. Where the F is everyone? Snob, maybe you needed to shout Hola? Der Trumpmeister would say she didn't belong in this country. That kid on the video trainer trike will grow up to be the next Peleton mom!

Anonymous said...

Top Ten!

Brain said...

*Knew

leroy said...

Oh great.

Now my dog won't stop singing "Did you ever know you are a zero?"

He's insufferable sometimes.

I tried telling him that, but he only paused momentarily to explain that's how he rolls.

Bakedbeansandammo said...

Started the day with Trump/Assange, then this....

N/A said...

Nice save, Wildcat.


Great, now even toy bikes need a damn app to work? What the hell is going to happen to all of our stuff when the robot overlords destroy all of the cell towers? Nothing but impotent scranus-scratching, that's what.

Grump said...

If I were you, I wouldn't use the term "HERO" too casually, since the term is often used to describe our glorious President Elect.
As for the car, to be truly heroic, after stopping the car, you should have thrown the keys as far as you could, and left it in the middle of the street.

Victor Kaminski said...

vsk said ...

Early Teens !

vsk

N/A said...

After saving the day, I think a proper hero would have stood erect in the middle of the street, placed hands on hips, and loudly proclaimed, "you're welcome, Citizen", then rode off on his Husky Marin.

Drock said...

What bike you use to catch SUVs?

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

Will Specialized come out with a new model specifically designed for catching errant driverless cars?

Billy said...

What the hell Snob, it would have been awesome to watch the SUV gently hump that parked Audi. You shoulda gone for option #2 all the way, with a side of warning people to get out of the way.

Charlie said...

I, for one, salute you.

CommieCanuck said...

Eight seconds after that photo was taken, the flat screen tipped over and split her head open like a ripe watermelon. Please, think of the children.
Check out the big deal over this woosie doing a 22 km (14 Freedom units) hour record. Not even half my whoo-hoo speed.

dnk said...

I think you stopped the runaway SUV because you're a decent person.

[Remember back in 2009 when a driver left his car in gear in Chinatown and killed two children, injuring 19 others? And if I'm not mistaken, that driver got off with just a traffic ticket & a nominal fine].

105 yr old guy said...

I owe my record of longevity to my grandson, Tullio Campagnolo, my diet entirely of Spanish onions, and my helmet.

Anonymous said...

I recall a better bike/TV solution for kids. I read a story about some inventor a number of years ago who hooked up the family TV to a generator that was powered by a stationary bike. In order to watch TV, you had to pedal.

Genius.

Anonymous said...

Only in America do we turn a Big Wheel into an indoor video game because, cars.

Anonymous said...

Kudos for stopping the SUV, even it it meant saving an Audi (I so hate their inherent smugness). Given how lily white H on H is, I would guess that the Spanish-speaking driver was from out of town. Had she damaged the infernal Audi, she might have faced a mob of irate former hipsters, or more likely, the H on H police. (Of course she is an idiot for leaving her SUV in drive, and someone could have been injured or worse). Good work. Now I am going to return to watching television while pedaling my Fisher-Price exercise bike.

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

Scranus.

Cat 404 said...

"The word "hero" is bandied about rather cavalierly these days..."

The flock of heroes he would agree you're a hero. You'd also be a hero if it was a V12 Dodge RAM and you had let it roll into the river.

Bbaaa! (or whatever us fleecy little eagles say)


BTW, screw Zwift and LeMond - I'm goin' Fischer-Price! Buy American!

McFly said...

Please tell me you stared off into the distance kind of at an angle and at a fixed point and said.........."I'm no hero...just a man...."

wle said...

when you saved that SUV #what pressure were you running?

Catcha Rye said...

You chose the correct option even though the SUV'r likely will re-offend...

Unknown said...

I had a similar experience about 15 years ago. I live on a steep hill, and one afternoon I was driving (yes) down it and there was an old Acura creeping slowly down the road. I started going around it and saw (1) that the car keys were sticking out of the trunk lock, and (2) that the driver was in absentia. Parked, grabbed keys, hopped in, parked Acura, left note and went home. Stopped it as it was entering the opposite lane on a blind curve. So we're both heroes, but so are the sandwiches at Subway.

Spokey said...

damn

just missed the coveted 30 spot. now just have a dirt spot

bad boy of the north said...

Snob, is this your first experience with a self driven car?The SUV looks antiquey...Maybe the SUV is caught up in a time traveling trip as in "back to the future".Perhaps you might see Marty mcfly in H on H the next time you're there.

Spokey said...

N/A

and you have a problem with scranus-scratching???

N/A said...

and you have a problem with scranus-scratching???

Not at all, but impotent scranus-scratching is just so unfulfilling.

Spokey said...


look, i'll agree that potent scranus-scratching is best. but if that is not available and all you gots is the other, then impotent scranus-scratching is quite acceptable.

'course that's down here in snobbie's hemorrhoids. i concede that in other civilized areas things could be different.

bad boy of the north said...

I ain't gonna follow the above conversation..Uh uh,no effen carroty turd way.

Anonymous said...

Nobody rides a bike in Hastings because it's a f***ing river town on a steep hillside going into the Hudson River, and the only way to get anywhere is to risk your life on Route 9. Anyone with a bike wanting to move to Westchester County (such as myself) moves somewhere else in Westchester for that reason.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 1:58pm,

Does anybody ride a bicycle for transportation in any part of Westchester?

Between the OCA and the South County Trailway the river towns seem fairly bikeable in that you can go from downtown to downtown while avoidind hills and traffic...though yes, some very challenging terrain depending on where you live. (My own neighborhood's on the same ridge so I get it.)

--Wildcat Etc.

--Wildcat Etc.

Anonymous said...

If you can't remember to put your car in park when you get out of it, you shouldn't be allowed to drive, period. Hopefully this moron doesn't kill you or someone else with her SUV at some point in the future. Kind of like saving a puppy from being hit by a car, then when it's grown up it chews your face off.

As for the heroics, this is a situation I personally would have walked away from. Not my car, not my insurance, not my fault, not my problem. Stand on the sidewalk from a safe distance and film the whole thing and wait for the aftermath. She probably wouldn't have even gotten a ticket (this is NY after all), but maybe her insurance premiums might have gone up. If she even has insurance.

Anonymous said...

Is that Fisher Price Smart Bike available in crabon?

Anonymous said...

Not only that, if you had called the police and made a report, they could have used your video as evidence. Key in the ignition of an unattended vehicle is a traffic violation/fine at the least.

grog said...

Wildcat, you have earned the right to wear a cape.
And a medal, on a pedal. And a crown on your frown.
GOOD SAVE
KIDS BIEK
MORE BABE

bieks said...

Someone tell that kid to "get on the couch!" before she gets mowed down by the roomba.

JB said...

I figured that she was going to accuse you of trying to steal it.

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

Well if you chose to watch the driverless SUV crash into the pretentious Audi, and published that video, chances are the owner of said SUV and said Audi would both sue you for videoing the event instead of doing something to prevent it. Now if, you slipped and fell trying to get into said SUV to stop it, and it ran over your leg, well that would probably be just too bad so sad for you. So all in all, you did the right thing and everything turned out for the best, considering that stuff happens all around us every day!

PS, if the SUV did hit the Audi, would that truly be an accident as in "oopsie"? The SUV certainly wouldn't have intentionally been trying to hit that Audi. On the other hand, the SUV's driver did leave the car running and in drive. And on the third hand, there is no law against stupidity.

Bluezurich said...

Zwift Junior!

Anonymous said...

Uh, what? Neither of those motorists can sue an innocent bystander for videotaping. There is no law REQUIRING you to be a good Samaritan.

The law defines this type of thing as "negligence" which implies someone did NOT do something they SHOULD have done in order to prevent a collision.

This would NOT have been an accident. The driver of the abandoned SUV was negligent.

JLRB said...

Nobody has criticized your filming skillz? It is the dawn of a new era!

Came for the banner ads, stayed fr the hero (and not the pita bread with mystery meat thing - too may onions)

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

Of course you are correct on all counts Anonymous. But this being Mericuh anyone will sue anyone else for anything - our next President is firm believer in that as he learned it from Roy Cohn!

And I'm being sarcastic about the accident/oopsie thing. WCRM often discusses how the mainstream media says cars, not drivers, kill and maim pedestrians, and how such tragedies are accidents/oopsies when these events are in the news.

My Obliviousness doesn't travel so well over the interwebs!

Anonymous said...

That Fisher-Price bike is the beginning of the end. Next step is that "Black Mirror" episode (I think season 1) where everyone is on the stationary bikes, and the Earth is presumably fully ruined.

1904 Cadardi said...

That little girl is totally gonna own the "Sponge Bob Square Pants" Strava segment.

Dooth said...

Did you ever know that you're my hero?
You're everything I wish I could be.
I could fly higher than an eagle,
For you are the wind beneath my Scranus!



Anonymous said...

The plaintive cry of "Hello..." from Snobby at the climax of his three second cinematic masterwork is compelling, heart-wrenching and menacing all at once.

In just two syllables and a few wobbly frames of bar-end shifters, the auteur evokes all the surreal mystery of a classic Twilight Zone episode where the protagonist stumbles through a town seemingly only just emptied of all life, makes us feel the existential angst, philosophical despair and emotional isolation he's enduring and unsettles us with an undertone of foreboding and moral ambiguity in his incantation of the already iconic film quote: "Hello..."

Such a searing work is this, that it inspired the final stanza in Allen Ginsberg's "A Desolation":

And maybe make an image
of my wandering, a little
image—shrine by the
roadside to signify
to traveler that I live
here in the wilderness
awake and at home.

*** Two thumbs up! ***

wishiwasmerckx said...

"You can't fix stupid."

-Ron White

Jeremy Clarkson said...

"You are free to drive best sports sedan in the world the BMW M3....because all the assholes are now driving Audi's."

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 4:04pm,

Finally, somebody gets me!!!

--Wildcat Rock Machine

atom bomb said...

Where's the video? Did I not get the joke?

Where's the video?

BikeSnobNYC said...

atom bomb,

There is a video in the post. What device are you on?

--Wildcat Etc.

Low Sperm Count (PSI) Saves the Day said...

The owner of the Audi would be despondent if their status symbol had mated with a Toyota. The shame, the shame.

Motor vehicle tires have PSI ranges, had said SUV been at the top of it's range it would have rolled faster and it could have been curtains for the Audi.

Putin on the Ritz said...

Trump is a hoot, of course he buys into Assange over the CIA, NSA, FBI, etc. His Bromance with Vlad couldn't have anything to do with his businesses owing Russian banks mega dollars, err, I mean, rubles.

I thought sure Trumper was going to produce a hand written note that said

"Donald, I didn't do it. Vladimir CC: James Comey.

babble on said...

I'm sorry, but that particular suburb is more disturbia than hipsturbia... though surely someonez already been there, said that.

Commie? At twice your age, I'd be thrilled to go half your speed, but then I'd be thrilled just to make it to the full century in the first place. And hey, he went vegan a few weeks before the ride, so his body is still adjusting... Whaddya expect?

Heh. My brother was the instigator of three motor vehicle crashes before he celebrated his second birthday, and as he couldn't reach the gas they were all at about that speed. My genius parents finally stopped leaving the keys in the car after the third one, when he managed to take the driver's side door off the car. Small town life in Canada, the New York Times' #1vacationsuggestion2017.

Anonymous said...

That human girl child will be even happier when she is given a proper bike fit.

Gort

where is my box for "I am a robot!"?

Clarkey said...

While reading I imagined myself dutifully stopping the car without hesitation. But then I am also guilty of blissfully watching shopping carts
rocket through parking lots on extremely windy days. Hmm...

Anonymous said...

Snob, at any point during this excitement consider just going for a joyride in the freerange SUV?

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 7:58pm,

Oddly no, though I always fantasize about it when people leave their cars running.

--Wildcat Etc.

I. Saunter said...

I never leave my car running, I always just walk away from it.

Persia said...

Did the same, years ago. Old station wagon rolling slowly outside a pub, towards the Murray River, if I recall correctly. Got in, put the brakes on, put on the handbrake, went on my way.

I've always wondered if the owner emerged from the pub eventually and was puzzled why his car was parked some distance from where he left it.

Major VVald said...

WCRM etc., the runaway vehicle was indeed in Drive - the torque of the idling motor was (mostly) offset by the incline of the road (and gravity) allowing you to perform an exquisite CX dismount and saunter over to save the day and the innocent children. Except it turns out Einstein was all wrong about that gravity thing. Turns out it is just a side effect of mass accumulations of matter. Perhaps your animal magnetism had something to do with it.

Know Moor said...

Living near the waterfront, I always park my car on a wharf, that way I can always find the quay.

Anonymous said...

Every American household has an exercise bike they don't use. So of course the kids want one too.

BamaPhred said...

Of course you are a hero Snob. A hero is an ordinary person doing something extraordinary, with some risk to self, to protect life or property from harm.
Congratulations are in order, maybe not a 5th Avenue ticker tape parade, but still, thank you for thinking about others over self.

Spokey said...


i was so grateful for snobbie's heroic public servitude that i put down 2 black bush's last night (dftiis).

Mayor Bloomberg said...

BamaPhred, how charmingly provincial of you!

Ticker-tape parades are conducted upon a stretch of lower Broadway in the financial district known as the "Canyon of Heros."

Fifth Avenue, indeed!

leroy said...

Dear Mr. BSNYC -

Is it still a good deed if it's the law?

"It's new, it's the Good Samaritan Law."

Put differently, what the big deal about a mitzvah if it's required?

Anonymous said...

40.9945351,-73.8824435

There are two people on bicycles in Hipsturbia, one pulling a uey in front of the Google Streetview car.

dop said...

AYHSMB

Frickus Rungus said...

I drove an airborne express van for about a year, and the guy who trained me on the route would never take the van out of gear at a stop. He would just put on the parking break...

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