How to make friends in America
July 7, 2013 § 33 Comments
Dear Fellow With The Funny Accent,
It was a pleasure meeting you this morning. I was sitting a couple of wheels behind you as we rolled past Terranea. The Velo Pasadena dude in front of you moved over to the left. You weren’t paying attention, and you swerved wildly even though at most all that was required was a gentle change of line.
The riders behind you yelled in the typically friendly way we Americans greet our buddies on densely packed, amped-up flailfests like the Donut Ride. One fellow said something like “Hey fucktard! Watch what the fuck you’re doing!”
Another friendly greeting was also sent your way, something along the lines of “Jesus Christ! You almost took me out, kooktard!”
It was our subtle way of saying that your kook maneuver had imperiled others, some of whom had jobs (okay, that’s doubtful), but all of whom had plans for later in the day that didn’t include a fractured skull. So far, so good.
But things went south when, instead of looking back sheepishly and saying “Sorry, mate, I’m a fucking kook,” you went on the offensive and began blaming your flail on the Velo Pasadena dude. Now I know you’ve only been here for a short while, and it’s likely that your former prison colony doesn’t celebrate cycling quite the way we do, but the little stars on that dude’s sleeve meant that he’s a former national champion.
Again, no big deal except that when you, a kooktard with a bad attitude and poor handling skills, blame your flail on a dude who is at least allegedly the best in the nation at his craft, then you look like an even bigger kooktard crazypants. “So fuck you!” you’re probably thinking.
How do I know this is what you’re thinking? Because when I began loudly making fun of you for almost crashing out over a very minor shift in rider position, you turned around with flecks of saliva stuck to the corners of your mouth and shouted at the person behind you, “One more word out of you and … !” It’s too bad that you didn’t realize the obvious: Threatening us with “One more word!” is a guarantee that you’ll get hundreds more words, none of them flattering.
In your eagerness to communicate how serious you were, you lost sight of what was happening in front of you (this can happen when you’re looking backwards and foaming at the mouth in the middle of a tight, fast-moving pack), and then pulled another veer, wobble, and flail.
More friendly advice ensued. I think the dominant message was “Get away from that kooktard. What fucking kookfuck.”
Where that puts us today
Unfortunately, on this, your second Donut Ride in the South Bay, you alienated at least as many people as you did on your first one. Remember last week? That was when you got into a screaming match with G3. Sadly for you, he got the whole thing on his GoPro. He comes across as reasonable. You come across as a dickhead with a Dallas-sized chip on your shoulder. That was also the same ride where your awful flailing bike weaves earned a reproof from another rider. You had the bad judgment to verbally accost him at the top of the climb, cementing your incipient reputation as a bona fide crazypants.
So after two group rides people are starting to say “Wow! Who is that kooktard?”
Others are saying “Wow! What a crazypants! Is that why they kicked him out of his own country?”
Still others are saying “Wow! For such an aggro attitude, he sure is weak on the bike. He got shelled like a bad pecan as soon as the pace got hard.”
No one is saying anything good about you. They are, to the contrary, saying bad things about you. This is not good for you or for them. Let me explain why.
No one cares who you are. They care how you are.
This bicycling thing we do is ostensibly for fun. It is also interdependent on the behavior of others. This means that bicycle riding makes us friends with people we would otherwise never associate with. Through bicycle riding I have become friends with some weird, strange, and bizarre people, and even a handful of Republicans. Through bicycle riding I have learned that even though I may not see eye to eye with a person on every issue, when it comes to shit like bike handling I had better swallow my fucking pride and let guys like Dominic Felde and Johnny Walsh do their thing.
Neither was there today, but if they had been, and you’d showed them your impish attitude, the consequences would have been dire…for you.
You see, you are now riding among some people who have serious skills. Dom is just one of several bike wizards who can thread a needle at 35 through a wet, bumpy turn six inches off the wheel in front of him and never even think about tapping the brakes. That’s very different from you, whose bike skills are more akin to mine: That is, they suck.
But back to the fun. It’s fun to yell at people who do stupid, dangerous shit. There’s the basic fun of just yelling at a kooktard crazypants, but there’s also the fun of teaching. By pointing out your ridiculous moves we are helping you get better. This reduces the chance that we will get crashed out when you swerve twelve feet to avoid hitting a dead beetle.
However, it’s not fun when the kooktard insists (is it okay if we call you KT for short?) that he was right and everyone else is the kooktard. It’s not fun because our yelling is only fun when we do it once. When it escalates into screaming we go into oxygen debt and get dropped. It’s also not fun because you are exhibiting the characteristics of someone who is not benefiting from our sage advice, and is, instead, doubling down on his kootardishness.
Why it all matters
The first reason is the simplest, KT. You are a buzzkill. That happy feeling of “I’m riding my bicycle! Yippee!” dissipates for good when you, KT, imply that you will escalate the problem into a violent confrontation.
The second reason is because when you behave like a crazypants, you will eventually feel terrible about it. Here’s what happens: You alienate lots of people. You keep riding with us. You get in a crash (hit by a car, kook out and clip a curb, run into someone while screaming at the person behind you, etc.).
Then, because you’re part of our community, we stop to help you. We follow the ambulance to the hospital. We get your worthless ass checked in. We call your mother or mental healthcare specialist. We even bring you clean underwear. We treat you with the same compassion and concern that we treat all our non-kooktard buddies.
Then, after they take the long plastic pipe out of your dick, staple your fucking head shut, and send you home with a suitcase of oxycodone (we drive you, by the way, you sorry shit), you realize that we’re actually a pretty good bunch of bastards to have at your back when shit goes sideways. Then you reflect about what a fucking sorry ass kooktard crazypants you’ve been and you feel awful. You say something like “Guys, I don’t know how to repay you,” or “Let’s put some shrimps on the barbie,” or “New Zealand actually isn’t anywhere near Canada,” but bottom line is you feel like crap.
Then, you feel worse because no one gives a shit. We were going to help you no matter how much of a kooktard you were.
The third reason it matters is that you are a representative of your former penal colony. We often have awesome foreigners join our midst, and they do much more than teach us how to speak proper English. JBT, who is from Austria, a country similar to Australia, made everyone fall in love with her and not just because she was kind, warm, athletic, and smoking hot.
We embraced her because she appeared to like us and to enjoy our company and she hammered it out on the NPR twice a week for an entire summer before going back to Sydney, the capital of Austria. We have a hard time thinking you like us, KT, when you behave like a crazypants.
In other words, you have a lot to share by teaching us about your great country. We would love to learn about it and watch you drink us all under the table like our favorite local Welshman. We would also love to learn about your culture and how your countrymen feel when they’re constantly surrounded by soft, fluffy sheep.
A word to the wise
I’m not sure where you’re from, but here in America we like to sue everybody. So when you escalate a verbal confrontation into a fistfight you can be assured that we will call the police. They will arrest you and likely file charges. You will spend $5,000 – $25,000 to get the charges dropped, depending on whether it’s a misdemeanor or a felony. Oh, and it’s always possible you won’t get the charges dropped. Imagine how embarrassing it will be when you return to your native land after ten years in Corcoran with a tattoo on your butt made with a coathanger that says “Honey Hole.”
And of course, if you really do beat up one of us spindly weak people, we will sue you in civil court for damages. You could lose everything you have, including your porn collection. See? This just isn’t worth it.
Kissing and making up
On the bright side, there’s an easy way to fix all this. On your next group ride in the South Bay, approach one of the people you’ve been such a fucktard to and say “Hey, mate, I’m KT. Sorry for being such a crazypants.”
They will say “No problem dude. It’s just bicycling.” Then we’ll all go have a post-ride coffee together and make fun of your dorky kit while secretly envying your cool accent.
Just as you’ve quickly earned a reputation for being a turdball, people will start saying good things about you. They will respect you for admitting your kooktardishness and most importantly for erasing the buzzkill that now follows you around like a bad kimchi fart.
They will still yell at you when you kook out, but you’ll accept the criticism in the spirit it’s intended, and after a couple more rides you’ll feel like one of the gang.
See you soon, KT!
PS: The New Pier Ride leaves every Tuesday and Thursday from the Manhattan Beach Pier at 6:40 AM. Please stop by to apologize and enjoy some fun.
PPS: TELO crit race on Tuesdays at 6:00 PM, right around the corner from the Strand Brewery where, post-race, you can show us how to drink with a growler in each hand.