Friday, July 12, 2013

Spit-Take


I saw a guy spit in a lady’s face. It wasn’t an accident. He paused, he aimed, he fired, and he got her right in the kisser. It was gross. The spitter was on a bike. There was a lady jogging, he slowed down, and he let fly. When you see that happen you’re brought back to all the times you’ve spit at people and it makes you feel both nostalgic and a little guilty. Because that’s not a cool thing to do. Listen, spitting is gross. You should never do anything to anyone against their will that is found routinely in porn. That includes toe licking, breast slapping, having sex with, and of course spitting. There are whole wings of prisons built for people who try porn stuff in real life. 

I’ve spit a few times in my life. The one time it really landed I also was on a bike. I was riding on 58th St. and a car came up behind and instead of using the fact there was not a lot of other traffic and just going around me they proceeded to lay on their horn to voice their displeasure about me being on a bike. The driver kept on the horn for about 200 yards. Despite there being room on either side they decided to gun their engine and pass me within about an inch and a half of my handlebars. We both came up to a red light and when it turned green they decided to get behind me and do it again. I loaded one in the chamber and as they passed I got the passenger side window pretty good. Next red light they decided they wanted to play the same game again, so I decided to give them more of the same. This time for some reason the lady in the passenger seat, after seeing what I had already done, decided to roll down her window to yell something at me. I got her. I got her good. I felt a little guilty, but mostly I was happy that the lady got what I thought she deserved. Even though I’m of course the protagonist of this story I’m not sure I was in the right anymore. 

The guy who spit in the lady’s face also thought he was in the right. He spit on her because he thought he was imparting some kind of wet street justice. What she had done was jog on the side of The Hudson River Greenway reserved for cyclists. That would be a pretty minor infraction for most. If you’ve ever ridden the greenway it’s supposed to accommodate three lanes of people. A two way cyclist portion and a small lane for joggers and walkers. The problem is there really isn’t enough room for everyone. So from time to time you have to slow down to make room for someone else. Preferably without spraying that person with saliva. This guy didn’t see it that way. To him it wasn’t a minor inconvenience it was an infraction worthy of spitting on a complete stranger. 

I’ve only lived in New York a few years. Generally I love it, but it is the kind of place that kinda makes you want to spit in people’s faces from time to time. I, like most people, have rules in my head for what makes a civilized society. When people break those rules it can really piss me off. The top of my list are drivers who threaten to kill me and grown men who wear berets. If it were up to me those would both be enough to get a person publicly flogged without trial. For the driver I spit on being a guy on a bike was what pissed him off. For the guy on the bike path the fact that a lady was jogging the wrong way on a crowded shared path was enough to set him off. And we were all in the wrong.

These little social contracts we all carry in our heads are very important to us. We assume because we act a certain way everyone should act the same way. And it can be frustrating when someone breaks your rules. But these are your rules. There are a shitload of people living here, and that equals a shitload of separate social contracts. All with their own unique set of rules for avoiding be spit in the face. Chances are you’re also breaking someone’s at any given time. And if you don’t accept that fact we’re all going to end up with really wet faces. 

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