Tony Vagneur: Saddle Sore
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Maybe it was a hangover from the big bicycle races last week, stress getting the better of folks, or maybe it points out an old Aspen problem that has found new heights for expressing its madness.
While driving east on Durant, I spotted my ski buddy Bob getting out of his car, which was parked on the north side of Durant. I stopped to holler at him, just to say hi, a rather common custom around here since the Utes began the tradition thousands of years ago by saying “Mique” as they passed each other on the trail.
A quick glance in my rearview mirror revealed a woman coming up on me at a fast clip, and rather than go around (there was plenty of room), she pulled up on my butt with mere fractions of an inch to spare. It was clearly an expression of displeasure and, as you might have guessed, she had a cell phone stuck to her ear.
“She’ll get over it,” I thought. A quick greeting to Bob and I’d be on my way, but wait!
Headed west with a couple of toy-like kayaks on top, an SUV (painted Druid black, apparently to dispel the murkiness of the driver’s gender) pulled up and stopped, asking if I had broken down. If not, “why’d you stop in the middle of the street?” came the clipped voice from behind the wheel. He then pulled forward (still blocking the opposite lane) and began a loud conversation with the occupant of the car behind me, something about how I “clearly must be from out of town to be so oblivious and obtuse.”
Evidently they were unaware that their rudeness was overshadowing mine. I’d stopped on a mostly deserted street to say hello to a friend, and in their eagerness to point out the inaccuracy of my ways, two people had now committed egregious errors of driving etiquette themselves, one with her nose up the ass of my vehicle, the other blocking traffic in the opposite lane while bitching about my actions.
If you’ve been around a while, the above scene is probably not a news flash – there are more self-appointed “behavior police” per square inch in this town than likely anywhere else on the planet, and many of them are the same folks who fatuously complain about “lack of messy vitality.”
Anyway, thinking I could make a longer story short, I pulled off to the side, allowing room for the unhappy woman behind me to get on with it. And that she did by stopping directly alongside my vehicle and giving me a fake-smiled lecture about driving laws, about how “it’s illegal to stop in the middle of the street to talk to a friend.” Apparently, though, it is quite legal to stop in the middle of the street to lecture a complete stranger about how pissed off you are.
To top it off, that same emasculating lady delivered said scolding over the lap of her passenger, a young girl not more than 12. A rare case of a “skirt hiding behind a skirt,” I reckon, except it involved a child. It did serve to keep my profanity at an acceptable level, although I’m still wondering what was more important to this woman – the need to express her ire or setting a good example for the kid?
After I thanked her for the information, she said, “You’re a real piece of work.” I hoped it to be a compliment, but the nastiness in her voice implied I may as well have stomped a puppy to death, so deep was her frustration over my banal error of driving judgment. I realize some people’s sensitivities overwhelm even them, but this was ludicrous.
After she was all said and done and had driven off, sanity returned. A smile slowly crossed my face as I realized the circus had come to town and I got to be a part of it.
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