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The importance of having a conversation

fedexHow many of you have ever thrown your hand up in the air or yelled a few choice words at a motorist who did something stupid? Yeah, me too.

It’s always so unsatisfying isn’t it? You are angry at them, the driver is angry at you for yelling at him and likely has little idea why you are upset in the first place.

I’ve come to realize for me, the lack of satisfaction come from missing out on an opportunity to have a conversation with the motorist about what happened and why you were upset. Instead both people leave the situation angry and believing the other person was out of their mind.

I’ve got two recent examples that really hit home this point for me.

The first happened while walking to the grocery store with my son in his stroller. Once we get to the parking lot, we hop on a little sidewalk next to the parking lot. It’s only a couple feet wide. People often leave their carts on the sidewalk so they don’t have to take it back to the cart collection area. It’s frustrating as a pedestrian because we can’t get by, which means I have to leave my son to move the carts down the sidewalk so that we can get by.

Last week I encountered a woman who was doing that very thing. She asked if we needed a cart and I said no. Instead of taking it back she started to leave it on the sidewalk. I said something like, “Why don’t you put it back where it belongs.” Needless to say she wasn’t real happy and called me an asshole.

We both left angry and she has no idea why I wanted her to take it back.

Yesterday morning I saw the Fedex vehicle in the photo above parked in the no parking zone along Park Avenue between University Boulevard and Second Street. The area used to be a loading zone, but was changed because it was too narrow.

When I saw the truck, I whipped out my camera and started taking photos and started planning my angry post on this site and getting the plate number to call Fedex and complain.

Then the driver popped out the side of the truck and headed toward the elevator with me.

I decided instead to have a conversation with him. I explained that the area had recently been converted to no parking, which unless he was color blind, should have been obvious, but explained why it was no parking. I talked about the narrowness of the street and the danger the tracks posed to cyclists. I explained that the parking had been moved to the side street.

He thanked me for the information and seemed like our conversation may have had a positive effect. It’s hard to know if it really did, but I felt better and perhaps he’ll think twice about parking there again.

Now if only I can track down the woman with the cart and explain I’m not really an asshole.

7 comments
Greg Spencer
Greg Spencer

I completely agree. Road rage begets road rage, but if you're civilized, people will respond in kind. Usually ...

zz
zz

Wish you could have had that conversation with a taxi driver or some schmoe waiting for his girlfriend to get a coffee. FedEx and UPS drivers really run for a living and I can't really get mad at them for stuff like this. The main problem is other people seeing them do it and then everyone thinks it's OK.

Red Star
Red Star

It's the well-meaning driver of that Honda CRV or something. She sees Red Star everywhere, day or night, whether Red Star is Spandex or normal, and she simply must stop, in hope of changing the world. But the other motorists in the other lanes just speed on by her and there is confusion that only Red Star can direct and resolve. What a mess. What do you say in a discussion with the CRV Lady?

arsolot
arsolot

Your encounter was unusual since you had opportunity to engage in a conversation.  More often than not, the driver is gone before there's any chance to explain what's going on. I've often thought I'd like to explain to a driver the issues involved in such an encounter but don't get that chance.

RandomBikeGuy
RandomBikeGuy

This is a great Article.  We all react emotionally, but if we start the conversation politely there is a much higher likelihood that the recipient will be willing to listen.  Anger just makes all of us look bad and increases the divide.  Thanks for giving us all a good example!

StrawHousePig
StrawHousePig

@Red Star I think the first thing I'd say to her is, "Do you have any idea what Red Star is talking about? Something about stopping, but it's not at all clear when, where, or why." :p

Although if I were to venture a guess, something I notice too many people doing is trying to play traffic cop by attempting to hand off the right-of-way. I would suggest not doing that because it creates confusion (and hence danger) as pointed out somewhat ambiguously by Mr. Red Star.

Just yesterday I'm approaching (from the rear) a pair of dog walking ladies who decide to stop at an intersection to shoo a car at the cross street through even though the car was stopped at a stop sign, I was approaching unseen by the dog walking amateur traffic cop ladies, and another opposing motor vehicle was turning into the street ahead. Yet here they (well, one of them) stood gesturing driver 1 to take the right-of-way from them, looking as if to say, "What're you dumb?"

No, lady, that driver was not the dumb one.

Orvis
Orvis

@RandomBikeGuy Not buying it, makes all of us look bad?  Looking bad is not our basic problem.  It's more one of entitlement on the part of automobilists.  They don't think we should be in roadways in the first place especially if we aren't absolutely clinging to the edges riding the white line.  


Congratulations on your one success Mike.  Certainly nobody likes being scolded.  That same walk at T-Joe's is a source of frustration for me pretty nearly every Sunday morning because of the cars overhanging the walk way.  One of my few successes was in that parking lot pointing out to a car driver that when he parked over the sidewalk it blocked my passage and that if he'd hold back about 10 inches it would make my life a little easier.  I didn't get yelled at and I got a grudging ok.