It’s official. Charlotte County, Florida is the second most senile county in the U.S. Yes, we have the second highest rate of crazy coots (those over 65) in America. No wonder I feel at times like I’m going, going, just done gone nutz. I feel that way because everyone here IS crazy.
Speaking of senility, I got into a very nice tiff with some older gentleman the other day. I had approached and passed him on the sidewalk that functions as a bike trail. This was my normal route and after a thousand trips I had never had any problem with anyone (other than being run over by that Mercedes a few months ago and a slight collision with a motor scooter a few weeks back).
As always when overtaking someone either walking or biking, I either use my bell or yell out “On your left,” depending on wind/traffic conditions. This day, I yelled those words. No response. I yelled again. Zero. Normally, the walker/rider in question will acknowledge your warning with a wave or nod, then get over. Since the unresponsive individual this day was hogging the center of the sidewalk it forced me to pull around him and steer onto the grass--not fun, is dangerous. Still, I didn’t think much of it. Things like this one must deal with and get used to anywhere; but even more so here in senile, hard-of-hearing Geezerland. Such minor stuff happens to me five or six times a week.
So, sweaty and tired, I just continued on into Englewood and soon found myself a park bench to plop down on. Imagine my surprise when five-minutes later this same man I passed pulled up to me and goes right into some mounting diatribe about how I “almost ran into him” and how I “need to learn how to ride a bike and be more careful.”
Now, my theory in life is don’t sweat the small stuff and avoid confrontations. Thus, I told the man that I had warned him twice in passing, and that I apologized if he did not hear me, but if I yell very loud, some people are so startled that they get angry and think I am being rude. So, I do the best I can. I did not even bring up the fact that it was ME, not him, who was actually forced off the path because HE was riding in the middle.
But there was no compromise in this fellow (I suspect he was either 1) off his meds or 2) had just had an argument with his poor suffering wife that morning). He continued to berate me and my intelligence and noted that he had been riding for maybe 40,000 miles and knew what he was doing (I didn’t mention that I figured it up once and that I was already working on my second 100K). So, finally, sweating and tired, I had reached my limit. He wanted a problem, so he got it.
“What the hell’s wrong with you?” I said with mounting anger. “What do you mean coming up to me here in public all pissed off and acting like an idiot?”
“You think I’m pissed off now?” replied the man. “YOU AIN’T SEEN ME MAD YET!”
Now, I am sure his poor wife had heard that stale line a thousand times, but it was my first. At that point I decided to either close the book on this retarded display or open a new book.
“Okay,” I said as I got up from the bench and took a few steps toward the man. “GET MAD. . . . GET REAL MAD AND SEE WHERE IT TAKES YOU! JUST GO AHEAD (Despite the caps, I wasn’t shouting . . . but I’m sure I was intense).”
Fortunately for both of us, the gent settled down and decided that he had over-stayed his welcome and, except for a few face-saving parting salvos, he continued on his bike ride.
Damn! Some of these old fools can’t hear, can’t see, can’t think, and they obviously imagine that the world should run exactly as they want it to. It is bad enough sharing the bike paths and sidewalks with these ancient menaces but the thought of a hardheaded character like the above steering two tons of steel is pretty damn scary too.
It should be mentioned that the crank above was maybe 7-10 years my senior, in very good shape, and in every other way, looked like what we might call a “respectable citizen.” He was overly neat, shirt tucked in, large, totally unnecessary helmet for someone who goes as slow as he does. But murder! Has my opinion of old people ever changed radical since moving here!
Footnote—I saw this fellow yesterday and he actually waved at me! Either his senility suddenly kicked in and he had forgotten who I was or he was back on his meds.
Currently, Michelle and I are totally engaged; she with riding and training her horses, me knee-deep with a new book. That, in part, without expiation, explains my failure to blog more. I hope to begin the writing of said book by October or so, thus I am moving pretty quick, much to the neglect of Michelle, Disney, the horses, and this blog. I will try to blog again in the next few days.
A hint on the new book: The Goodriches should be fast flying to Japan at some point this summer and not slow-sailing.