Saturday, April 19, 2008

I Fought The Law . . .

. . . and I won. So far. Sit back. It's quite a ride.

****PARENTAL ADVISORY*****

**The events that follow are absolutely true. As a result they are not pure. There is some foul language, and I am not acting like the nicest nor even the wisest person. I hope I did not set back cyclists rights in the process, but in my defense I was pissed and my reactions were completely authentic, which is all any of us can be.**

I think my personality must have been poisoned somewhere along the way. Maybe it was the ink in the m-dot tattoo or something snapped after being harassed one too many times by ignoramuses behind the wheels of cars, but in the words of that immortal poet, Sheryl Crow:

I ain't takin' sh*t off no one,
baby, that was yesterday.

Motorists who cross the line and try to bully you off the road are just bullies. And the thing to do with a bully, in my view, is confront them. Today, I met a bully with a badge and a gun, and I confronted him, and I backed him the hell down.

I was riding one of my customary Montgomery County routes, southbound on FM149 from Richards towards Montgomery, about 4 miles outside of town. There is only a narrow shoulder at that point that is not truly suitable for riding, so I was positioned between the right tire tread mark and the white line at the side of the road when a pickup passed me intentionally too close and honked like motorists do when they are trying to harass and endanger cyclists. I instictively let fly an f-bomb and shouted a comment on his ancestry and preferred, maternal sexual partner.

The pickup, however, was a constable. But he did not act like a constable is supposed to act.

He slammed on his brakes and pulled across my path, including the minimal shoulder on the side of the road. I grabbed my brakes, skidded, and managed to stop without injury. Even if I had been riding the center line buck naked, smoking pot, burning an American Flag and pissing on the Texas Constitution, there was no call for that.

Having been placed at risk of my life for no good reason, and by someone who is sworn to protect me (and knowing full well that I would be in jail on a felony charge had I done the same to him) I exercised my Constitutional rights under the 1st and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitutions to comment upon the conduct of governmental officials.

"HAVE YOU GOT A FUCKIN' PROBLEM??!!"

**See generally Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971) (defendant's conviction for disorderly conduct for wearing shirt that said "fuck the draft" held unconstitutional abridgment of his rights to free speech).

Whereupon, this exchange occurred, as best I can recall it:

**indecipherable shouting from the cab of the constable's pickup**

I move up to the door and open window: "WHAT??!!""

Constable Shouting: "Don't you 'WHAT' me, you understand me?"

Me: "WHAT??!!" (Because I cannot freekin' believe what I'm hearing, because I take lectures from no man, and because I'm just pissed)

Constable Shouting: "Don't you 'WHAT' me, YOU HEAR ME??!!"

Me: "Oh, I HEAR you"

Constable Shouting: Do you know the rules of the road?

Me: Yeah, I know 'em and I was exactly where I was supposed to be. You got a problem??

Constable: You're NOT SUPPOSED TO BE ON THE ROAD. You're supposed to be on the right side of that white line as far to the right as possible.

Me: That's wrong. Bicycles are vehicles that are entitled to use the road. I was riding exactly where I am allowed to ride. If you think I am wrong just give me a ticket and we'll go talk to the judge about it and let him decide.

(Inside my head: Oh, no Briar Fox. Don't throw me in the courtroom. I'd hate to have to cross examine Officer McBreakfast Taco within an inch of his life with only a junior baby DA assigned to traffic court to protect him. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE give me a ticket. Better yet, arrest me. You're in my house now, asshole.).

**back and forth of disagreement ensues, whereupon I have calmed myself a bit but he keeps interrupting me because he is NOT going to be contradicted, especially by a cyclist. Bad combination, a bully and a know-it-all.**

Me: Look. Hold on. Just wait [attempted interruption]. I SAID wait. Look, I'm not trying to pick a fight with you. You're just dead wrong and you've got no cause to act this way or to be holding up traffic. Look, if you think I'm wrong just give me a ticket and be done with it.

Constable all defensive and shouting: I will. You git off the road or I'm gonna give you a ticket.

Me: Fine. Do it. I'll wait.

Constable: I will. I'll give you a ticket.

Me: Give me a ticket. (In my head: Sh*t or get off the pot, fatso)

Constable: Git off the road.

Me: I am entitled to be on the road and I will continue to ride exactly where I was riding.

Constable: Git off the road or I'll give you a ticket.

Me: do it.

**Officer eventually drives off in a huff, but all the cars behind him no doubt feel more empowered to pick on cyclists. **

I believe the officer was from Montgomery County, Precinct One. I have enough information that I can identify with officer. When I do, I will publish his name and badge number so local cyclists can beware. In the interim, be forewarned that he drives a reddish maroon pickup with gold lettering "Constable" on the tailgate. He is overweight (big surprise) possibly Latino, black hair, not close cropped, and mustache--sort of an 80s porn look. I have initiated a complaint with the Precinct One Constable and will keep you updated on how things proceed.

I'm not much of a rabble rouser, but if we can't count on law enforcement to protect us, we've got no shot against the Gomers in the pickup trucks. Here are the possibilities I am considering and I would be interested to know what you think should be done in the interest of "cyclists rights."

A. Identify the officer publicly

B. Demand that a complaint be placed in his personnel file

C. Demand that the officer take bike cop training and be schooled on the actual rules of the road. (He could use the education and the exercise by the look of it).

D. Demand a written apology from the officer.

E. File a formal disciplinary complaint.

F. File a felony complaint against the officer for aggravated assault.

Again, I would be in jail on aggravated assault charges right now if I had done that to him. Aggravation legally comes from using a deadly weapon, which in this case is a pickup. Even if the charge is dismissed because the DA doesn't want to get cross ways with the constable, he will have to explain it on every subsequent job application and attempted promotion.

So far, I have written to the Constable's office trying to be constructive and demanding A through D, but expressly holding out the possibility of E and F if there is foot dragging.

And I intend to ride that same road in the same manner wearing the same gear every weekend so he will recognize me.

Stupid bully. Give me a ticket, you coward.

Oh, and I road 94 miles, notwithstanding Officer McBreakfast Taco. Bring on Wildflower.

48 comments:

J-Wim said...

G. All of the above. way to stand up for us all.

Bob Nelson said...

AWESOME! Hope to shake your hand at Wildflower! Please keep us updated.

Curly Su said...

holy god. you've got more balls than i gave you credit for. i would have turned into my 'yessir' chicken-shit self...

but definitely, thanks!

Sarah said...

I'm almost shaking with rage after reading that. I've had plenty of pickups "toy" with me on the roads, but a constable? Who should freaking know better? Infuriating and downright scary.

CoachLiz said...

OMG!

I am so glad that he did not come across me this morning on that road. That shoulder sucks and there really is no room to ride to the right of the white line!

Hey, right after you saw me and Ryan on 1097, an agressive Black Lincoln Navigator was coming up fast on our back wheels and Ryan dropped back to get in line, clipped my wheel and went down HARD. The crash cracked his helmet, caused lots of bad road rash, but thankfully no broken bones.

Did the a--hole in the Lincoln SUV stop??? NO!!! Not even to see if we were ok. What is with the people in Montgomery Co.???

Gads! Well, I will be out riding in Chappell Hill tomorrow morning.

Kathy said...

Good for you. The only other thing I could suggest is to contact the Texas Bicycle Coalition--for support, information, networking, etc. It's also possible other complaints have been filed against this guy. If you're not already a member, join!

Of course, the TBC has the rules of the road published on their website for all to see. Hopefully your constable can read.

http://www.biketexas.org/content/view/51/65/

TriSaraTops said...

That is absolutely INFURIATING.

I am sitting here stewing, wanting to open up a can of whoop-ass on him.

Nice reference to Cohen v. California, too. My students always love that one. :) Who said civil liberties cases are boring?

Rainmaker said...

Holy crap. You gots balls - that's for sure!

Nicely done! See ya at Wildflower.

Spokane Al said...

Geeze - I hope all that sunshine makes up for having to put your life on the line when you go for a bike ride.

SUB6 said...

you went further 'to his face' than most would do so you have to go for option F ... IMHO

Andra Sue said...

Good for you! That fucker deserved all the verbal abuse you could dump on him, along with an education of the rules of the road. Sounds like that ass-hat we ecountered in Commerce a couple weeks ago, but at least he wasn't law enforcement. BTW, I think you should demand all of the above courses of action--please let us know how it turns out.

TriSherpa Di aka "Mrs Bigun" said...

Like others, I totally felt your rage. I hope you do end up making an example of this "officer of the law" what a jerk. I hate bullies.

21stCenturyMom said...

You da man, baby - DA MAN! I would have been in tears screaming 'YOU ALMOST KILLED ME!" but I'm not sure I could do much else.

Write the letter to his superior explaining how incensed you are that an officer of the law would endanger your life and explain what you could do were you of such a mind. Then explain that you know who is packing heat and who is not so you aren't going to go there but in the interest of public safety request that ALL officers in his department get PROPER training on the laws regarding use of the road because clearly they don't know and citizens need law enforcement to work on their behalf, not to endanger their lives.

That's what I would do.

Cass said...

Oh my god! I cannot believe that! I will say that it is times like that when knowing the law really helps. Personally, I say go for E and F too. There is no acceptable reason for such behavior.

Oh - and be nice to the little Montgomery County DAs - i think a friend of mine is up there (that said, experience level - not quite that high...)

Thanks for the comment last week!

Brent Buckner said...

Fight the good fight - ROCKSTAR!

Supalinds said...

I wish I could have witnessed you pulling out your lawyer skills on this asshole officer.

Rage, I hate nothing worse than morons like that. Oh and officer at that. Go get him. Grrrrrrr.

Just another Johnson said...

Way to go! Way to stand up to the pin head. Way to use that legal background. too bad the constable doesn't know the law.

Tri to Be Funny said...

Spandex shorts kick polyester pants ASS any day!! I probably would've started crying and retreated back to my indoor trainer.

I see a future "Greyhound Law" in action!! Way to open your can of Lawyer Speak on him! He had no idea who he was messing with :-)

Pharmie said...

Keep us updated. I really hope something comes of this. After a 48 hours special this weekend, my mom asked me if I always ride/run with someone, cause, you know, I could be kidnapped or something. I responded that I'm much more afraid of the motorists. It's too bad when one of those motorists is an officer of the law!!!

Iron Benny said...

Dude, no offense, but man am I glad it happened to you. Had it happened to me, I'd be in the clink right now without recourse. And after Big J smooched me on the lips last week, I definitely don't want to go to jail.

I think he should be subject to E or F. At least E. There is no excuse for that kind of behavior. None.

Thanks for standing up for cyclists.

Fe-lady said...

We would have done the same as you...but probably with more expletives!
Great mileage...you probably rode harder and faster after the "conversation"!
And about the 80s porn star mustache...how would you know???

Steve Stenzel said...

WOW!! Way to go!! I LOVE IT!!

Donald said...

Awesome. Speak truth to power! He clearly picked the wrong guy to mess around with.

Lana said...

I love it. I so love it! And I vote for F, by the way. Go ahead and ruin the sonuvabitch. I go for blood when you make me mad enough.

Lisa said...

I think the scariest thing is the example he was setting for others. Well that and the fact that he could have killed you. I would seriously focus my energy on B&C. Also for it to be aggravated assault, would you have to actually be hurt? Not a lawyer myself, just watch a lot of TV...

Alili said...

I was jumping out of my seat cheering you on! Get him Greyhound!

pinkgurugal said...

you go tgh! and you forget:
let's sick the press on him!

Taconite Boy said...

Holy crap greyhound. What if I cut you off at wildflower! Your one bad ass.

You'll be plenty ready for May 3rd.

TriBeert said...

Do they have officers that patrol on bikes like most counties? If so I would go directly to them and get them involved. They probably see this first hand. Dealing with the aholes on the road gets real old.

Don't let it rest!

Allez said...

Wow, you would think law enforcement is on our side!

Jill said...

I solidly vote for "F". Our law enforcement abuse power far too often and this is a prime example.

the Dread Pirate Rackham said...

I. Love. This Post!!!

KICK ASS AND TAKE NAMES!!! It's empowering just reading about your empowerment.

I'm just sayin'.

IronJenny said...

I vote for G - all of the above. He needs to be stopped before he kills somebody.

Bolivian Tri-Man said...

You're the man Tri-Greyhound!!! I love that you stood up for yourself like that to Officer McBreakfast Taco (you had me rolling when I read that). On top of that you still got a 94 mile ride in, like I said you're the man!!!

Kim said...

i just chuckled. you have balls of steel grey, you really do. kudus for you sticking up for yourself/ us cyclists!

tri-mama said...

Yikes! We've had idiot motorists harass our group-that's when it always comes in handy to have a police officer as your tri club captain.

Tarabay said...

You did the right thing!!!

I've found that most jerk-offs that harass cyclists are cowards....

Nytro said...

G. All of the above. Although, in particular, I think C would be the most helpful. Let him get out there and experience what we have to in any given day. Only don't let him have his cop stuff on.

Better yet, require him to do a triathlon.

Better yet, require him to be your bitch for a day.

Glad you stood up to him. Hope he gets what's coming to him.

IronMatron said...

What a prick. Unbelievable. I'm so glad you stood up to him. I would've cried for mom if someone cut me off like that in a scary pick-up. (of course--I'm a chick--and scary pick-ups driven my scary males should be avoided at all costs, cop or not. actually--especially cops.)

Iron Pol said...

I'd go for the non-confrontational stuff and let him stew about it. I like the request he take bicycle courses. While I don't expect officers to know every nuance of every law, they should have a vague understanding of road laws. Perhaps he wouldn't know that you are entitled to three feet of the SAFELY NAVIGABLE road, but at least he should know you are a legal vehicle so long as non-motorized vehicles aren't prohibited.

Last weekend, we had a drive run down a cyclist (who luckily survived nearly uninjured). He was doing about 50 mph when he hit her. He said he "didn't have time to stop." All because the cyclists didn't rate his attention.

Iron Pol said...

I'd go for the non-confrontational stuff and let him stew about it. I like the request he take bicycle courses. While I don't expect officers to know every nuance of every law, they should have a vague understanding of road laws. Perhaps he wouldn't know that you are entitled to three feet of the SAFELY NAVIGABLE road, but at least he should know you are a legal vehicle so long as non-motorized vehicles aren't prohibited.

Last weekend, we had a drive run down a cyclist (who luckily survived nearly uninjured). He was doing about 50 mph when he hit her. He said he "didn't have time to stop." All because the cyclists didn't rate his attention.

monica said...

BOOYA!!!

now that's a situation i like to refer to as "havin' to pull my afro pick out" and if things really get ugly, the neck starts cranking too...

i had a similar sitch with a higway patrol officer recently who accused me of not signaling and cutting him off. mind you, we were in typical l.a. traffic rolling at a max of about 3 miles per hour. then he threatened that he had it all on his patrol car installed video cam. i hate being bullied by ANYONE. so when i petitioned to see the video he scurried off like a little pussy. BOOYA!!

i vote for a-d. definitely threaten e and f, but really, that's just a lot of negative energy expended, and you need to save up for ironman!!

Bullet said...

You've got nerves of steel (or carbon). Way to handle yourself!

Gary said...

You can forget the bike cop training. If the guy is as big as you say he'd never make it past day one with weight and ATTITUDE/ ignorance issues. Nobody would train him.

GeekGirl said...

Holy cow. "a comment on his ancestry and preferred, maternal sexual partner."
you got big brass ones, Greyhound.
I usually just flip them off.

J-Wim said...

Ha! This post has totally inspired the name of a ride my tri club now takes weekly...... The Goober McChicken Ride (McBreakfast Taco's long lost Wisconsin relative). Thanks man!

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That was really great to know he experiences of the motorists. I love to be part of this discussion.
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patrick said...

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