With all the safety improvements and precautions motor vehicle users have been introduced to over the last twenty years, you would think that drivers might take safety to heart. Some probably do. But others see driving as a way to pamper themselves.
I encountered such a person when I was riding my bike on a beautiful spring day in early November. Yes, it was spring in November, as if someone had ordered the same spring weather we had in Boston on April 15, 2013 for the ill-fated Boston Marathon. Only on this day, Boston was celebrating the Red Sox victory in the World Series.
That afternoon, I was riding on one of my regular routes. The traffic was lighter than usual in some spots and heavier then usual in others. Some of this, I imagined, must have been due to the Red Sox celebration and some was due to a football game at Boston College.
As I rode past Boston College, I noticed a large number of fans filtering in the direction of the college’s stadium. Boston College draws huge crowds to their games, and despite parking restrictions in the area, it is always difficult to pass the college on game days.
Once past the football crowds, I entered an area of spotty traffic. This type of traffic is difficult to navigate because one minute it is clear and the next minute a gaggle of cars shows up and blocks the road.
Whenever the traffic is like this, I ride especially cautiously because the temporary openness of the road lulls drivers into a false sense of security and they take risks they might otherwise forego. Therefore, I watch them like a hawk, just in case they make an unexpected move.
Under these conditions, I rode hesitantly down a familiar road. At each intersection, I slowed down just in case a hidden car approached the main road.
On this particular road, cars tend to approach the main road at full speed. This makes it exceedingly difficult to know whether they see me and whether they intend to stop. Consequently, there are few places where I concentrate as hard.
I made it past the first few intersections without incident, but then my luck ran out. While slowly approaching a difficult road, where the oncoming car climbs a hill as it reaches the road, I thought I heard the roar of an engine.
Instinctively, I positioned my left foot so as to be able to release it from the pedal quickly if I had to make an emergency stop. The car approached suddenly, faster than I expected.
I looked straight at the driver and called out to her since she did not seem to be paying attention. Even after I yelled, she did not hit the brake and I began to fear the worst.
I yelled again. And then I stopped just as she entered the road. At the last minute she became aware of my yelling and slammed on her brakes.
Needless to say, I began swearing at her, but not for the reason one might think. I was swearing because this spoiled driver had a spoiled yapping dog on her lap while she was driving.
It was one of those high strung, small lap dogs that dart around and can’t sit still for one second. For the life of me I could not imagine why anyone would have such a restless dog in their lap while they were driving a car.
Since she came only inches away from hitting me, when she had a stop sign and I did not, I asked her whether the dog had a license. At first, she refused to answer me. Then, she started yelling at me as if I had done something wrong.
I decided not to get out of the way because even after I commented on the dog in her lap, she made no effort to put the restless creature in the back seat or to at least put it somewhere off of her lap. Believe it or not, she told me it was none of my business. She felt that she had a right to drive with a dog bouncing up and down in her lap, distracting her from the road.
To say that I became annoyed is an understatement. So, I asked this obviously spoiled, entitlement-minded woman if the dog had insurance in case he caused an accident while driving.
At this point, she started blowing the horn to make me get out of her way. Since I was smarter than she was, I backed up to let her go in front of me. She pulled into the road in a huff, and as she gave me the finger, I took a photo of her license plate.
Unfortunately, I still haven’t gotten around to buying a helmet camera to capture such moments on video. Getting a real-time recording of this woman with the yelping dog in her lap — clearly creating a dangerous situation whereby the driver could not focus her attention on driving — would have been priceless. Instead, I had to settle for a shot of her license plate which I called in to the local police along with a report about her reckless and irresponsible driving.
The police were non-committal. However, they did say that they would look into the matter. Whether they do or not, her license plate number is on record along with a complaint about her driving. And, by the way, the police confirmed that it is not legal to drive with a dog on your lap. According to them, a dog should be secured away from the driver, preferably in a back seat so that it doesn’t interfere with the driver.
You would think that everyone would know this. Evidently, some people do not, since they see the universe as revolving around them and their spoiled pets.