You’re a Fucking Idiot – Or How Not to Start a Conversation

You’re a fucking idiot! You fucking people shouldn’t be allowed on the fucking road! People like you are going to fucking kill yourselves you stupid idiot.

This is the greeting that came to me with a thick Australian accent from a blue Holden ute (pickup truck) at the lights on the way to work this morning. I had filtered to the front on my motorbike and he was second car from the front in the lane to my left, so I could see him lower his window and crane his head out in order to make conversation.

I wasn’t sure whether to be thankful for his concern for my safety or be concerned with the obvious anger that was emanating from this man, who would have been in his mid 40s. I was, without doubt, concerned that my actions had caused him such a reaction.

Now, I’m not going to seek validation in how safe a rider I am. I know I’m safe and alert, and while I know I’ve also made the odd mistake, this morning’s reaction from this man were disproportionate to my riding safety.

One thing I’ve learned over the past few years, and some might argue this is a lesson well learned much earlier than that, is that our reactions are nothing to do with the situation we have just observed. Sure, the situation is a trigger to the reaction, but the reaction is based on years of programming and automated responses. Consider these scenarios:

  • You arrive at a shopping parking lot at 4pm and there’s a car parked across two spaces;
  • You’re waiting for a train on a Tuesday morning and see someone in a secluded area of the platform with a needle in their arm;
  • You’re walking through a shopping centre and notice a 16 year old helping an old lady in to a desolate car park at 8pm.

I would bet my last dollar that your reactions to these situations would not all be the same.

So what’s my point? My point is, when starting a conversation with someone, you have a choice. You can choose to understand you know nothing of them or their situation, or you can tell them they’re a fucking idiot.