That’s it, you put me in my place, assertive, impressive specimen that you are.
That’s what you were doing, presumably. You were telling me that you could kill me if you wanted to, just by changing the angle of a lower joint in your right leg. It’s incredible that it’s so easy to destroy a life, but that’s just how powerful you are.
That’s what you were telling me when you beeped your horn, wasn’t it?
About 25 minutes ago I was crossing a road. Now, I won’t claim to have been legging it across, given that it’s Friday, and Thursday is the new Friday, and therefore my insides want out and I’m as tired as a baby just after its mid-morning shit. ‘Sauntering’ best describes it.
I had no reason to be tearing across the street like a pursued gazelle in the Serengeti because when I started crossing the road there were no cars coming. It’s quite a wide road at that point, though it’s one-way. About 30% of the way across a little black motor hove into view, trundling towards me. Well now, this could be interesting.
The mental calculation I made at that point would put Poincaré to shame. I’m already a fair way across. He’s obviously seen me. By the time he reaches me I’ll be more than halfway across the lane he’s travelling in unless he actively chooses to speed up. He won’t speed up because the lights, about 15 metres beyond the spot I’m crossing the road, are red. I’m crossing just behind another car, beyond which the little black motor can’t travel without pre-warning his insurance company.
All this caused me to make a momentous decision. I chose not to speed up; I continued sauntering. I wandered leisurely across the road like a man who imbibed more cider last night than the NHS has budget for and whose life-saving bottle of orange Lucozade Sport ran out some way back down the Embankment.
This, evidently, caused the driver of said small black car to experience a fit of fury the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the last time someone sent you one of those hilarious Hitler parody videos, which was probably yesterday, or just now. How dare this mere pedestrian refuse to bow to my obvious superiority. I am a car driver. Rarely has the world witnessed such outrage. Right, that’s it. I’m beeping him.
Actually it’s for his benefit that I do. This puny biped must understand the power of a motor vehicle controlled by a considered, wise, compassionate driver such as myself. I could kill him easily by applying a little pressure just here, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll warn him with sound. Perhaps he will consider his actions more carefully in the future. And perhaps the fact that I gain nothing, he ignores me and I look like an illogical twat given the circumstances will go unnoticed by the people on the pavement who look minorly startled by my pressing my steering wheel.
You see them in town centre traffic jams, sitting there helplessly as pedestrians walk past smiling. How dare they smile? Don’t they understand I could be somewhere else, somewhere important, having a meeting or saving a life on the surgeon’s table or putting out a fire or taking a mistress roughly from behind? I don’t see how honking my horn is going to help any of us move any faster, because obviously if anyone ahead of me could move they probably would do, but I’m going to hit the horn anyway. People must know how unhappy I am with all this, because I am a car driver, and therefore I matter.
As a simple user of public transport I might be dismissed as irrelevant but for the fact I passed my test 20 years ago and have owned cars in the past. I’ve driven many cars in my life, most of them Fords named after porn magazines, but to the best of my knowledge the only time I’ve used a horn is on a terrifying blind corner in a country lane wide enough for just over one small car, where there’s a 45% chance there’ll be a tractor coming the other way and the driver’s too deaf or too stupid to hear a horn anyway. But you beep it, because if you die without having done that you’ll feel like a right bellend as a giant tyre pushes its way through your face.
It works in New York; I see that. Beeping your horn in the New York gridlock is a cultural thing, just like Italian footballers diving like Daley is a cultural thing, though that hardly makes it right. People on a Manhattan sidewalk are probably immune to the sound by now anyway.
But England is an entirely quieter place. We’re not brash, or overly demonstrative. We don’t shout much. We don’t alarm one another with pointless, sudden noises, unless, it seems, we’re behind the wheel of a car, because then all bets are off and by gum I WILL make you understand just how important it is I save that 1.5 seconds of you being in my way. Yes, I’ll spend that second and a half sitting behind that other car there but if you think I’m going to let you continue to stroll in such a nonchalant manner on my road you must be madder than Lubitz.
Let me inform you, drivers of the world, that if you choose not to run me over but instead beep your pathetic little horn I will continue to completely ignore you, as I did that arsehole this morning. This will enrage you, and I will laugh and possibly have my revenge on the internet.
I will continue to walk at the pace I want and if you choose instead to mow me down I will be dead and you will be jailed, which means only one of us can be bent over in the laundry by Big Geoff. I have all the power in this relationship; the weedy pedestrian trumps your metal box. Beep beep.