I betcha a punctured tube that everyone reading this has experienced a situation similar to the exchange I had while commuting this past Thursday evening.
It was just shy of 6 PM and I was heading north up Ronald Ave., approaching the lights at the Castlefield Ave. intersection (Dufferin/Eglinton Ave. West Ave. area). My route takes me west on Castlefield, i.e., I had to turn left at the intersection, and I was behind an auto pulling up to the red light, also intending to turn left onto Castlefield.
A horn blared about 50 meters behind me; I paid it no mind. This is an unremarkable intersection and my behavior was likewise: I was slowing to a stop behind a motorist doing the same before a red light. On green we'd both turn left. Ho hum.
Along comes the loud horn from behind, pulling up beside me (now astride the top tube waiting), so that his fender is inches to the right of my leg. Uh oh. The guy wants to squeeze me out of the lane to...where I don't know. I confront the motorist, his face about a meter from mine.
"Just what are you doing?"
"Dude, you're on a bicycle."
"Gee thanks, I hadn't noticed."
"What are you doing on the road?"
Whenever this is the gambit of the motorist it's almost assured that what follows will never end satisfactorily.
"That's where the law says I'm supposed to be. Why don't you read your license handbook and figure it out for yourself."
"Dude, but I can't see you -- it's dangerous!"
I couldn't help but burst out laughing at that. Here's my standard commuting kit: two blinkies, each with 5 LEDs, in rear; a 5 watt headlight in front; two blue blinkies hanging from my shoulder; a yellow cycling jacket crisscrossed with reflective trim; and a courier bag also embellished with reflective trim AND strips.
"You're full of sh_t; I'm a Christmas tree on wheels. If you can't see me then how do you explain blaring your horn at me from way back?"
Mr. Motorist's face takes on a stupefied expression. "I didn't see you early enough..."
"You really are full of sh_t."
"Ahhh, now it makes sense. Yeah, it's about cyclists isn't it? It's not about me, it's about all cyclists."
"No it's not, I ride my bike all the time..."
"Well then Einstein if you were on your bike here, tell me where the f_ck you'd wait to turn left?"
Up ahead the light turns green. Castlefield is backed up all the way to the Ronald Ave. intersection so the car ahead has no where to go. Neither has the wunderkind beside me. I scoot out from them and maneuver through the gridlock along Castlefield, the poison of the argument receding like so many more vile exhaust fumes from motorists...
Well, not really. Truth is these episodes linger beyond the exchange. They taint the day and put one in a foul mood. Try as I might to avoid them -- does any cyclist actually seek these confrontations? -- they're difficult to foresee. And even more difficult to stem while in the grip of the moment.
If I've learned anything after years of encountering such attitudes it's that no matter what you say, or how you conduct yourself, or how much good sense you make, you will be resented just because you're there.
Don't let it get you down. ;-)