Mercifully, this week saw me complete my last ridiculously long training run ahead of the upcoming Yorkshire Marathon. It consisted of 20.2 miles, weaving through Middlesbrough’s various outlying habitats – some of which can be a touch on the scary side even in broad daylight. As is typically the case, a couple of more ‘cognitively challenged’ drivers felt the need to attract my attention using the overworked horn on their piece-of-crap van/aging Citroen Picasso. Not understanding why people do this, I regard such attempts at communication as something akin to spam email and afford it the same attention that I do when receiving notification of a Nigerian Lottery win or invitation to invest in a Sri Lankan coconut plantation. Being honked at by passing numbnuts is water off a duck’s back to me. Or indeed, Sri Lankan coconuts off a Nigerian Lottery winner’s back. As the saying goes.
But during the recent 20-miler there were two incidents of note that transcended beyond the level of baseline douchery:
1) At around mile 16, I was passing a line of stationery vehicles queued at traffic lights. From one of the cars came an incredibly crude, hollered insult. I stopped and turned to the car in question which I immediately noticed fit all the criteria to be a dickhead-mobile (noisy, shitty, low slung suspension, poorly applied bodykit and so forth). It occurred to me this was the scenario I’d fanaticised about: As there was no escape – the traffic light was firmly on red and they were several cars back – I could challenge the person as to why they though it necessary to insult me as I ran past. However, given that I’m not one for confrontation, the ensuing mix of testosterone, self-righteousness and provocation manifested itself as a meek ‘Excuse me?’ It did dawn on me that should the driver seek a physical confrontation my favoured plan of ‘run away’ could be adversely affected by the fact I’d already run 16 miles. But it then became apparent this would not be an issue, with a cry of ‘Not you!’ aimed in my direction from the car’s driver, as the passenger began clambering out to remonstrate with the driver of the car in front. The issue, whatever it was, was clearly between the two cars’ occupants. So, in a moment of supreme Britishness I then apologised profusely to the driver for mistakenly thinking I’d been called a ‘f**ing c***’ and carried on.
2) At around mile 20 I passed a parked car with a piece of paper under placed under the windscreen wiper. Now, I can spot (and enjoy) a passive-aggressive note from a mile away, and this was no exception: the words ‘PLEASE DO NOT PARK OPPOSITE MY DRIVEWAY’ (I would argue the capitalisation somewhat negates the ‘please’ which I’d offer was a somewhat insincere inclusion anyway…) made me chuckle, particularly as it was an A4 printed-out note rather than a hand-written one. Someone clearly had ongoing issues and/or time on their hands.
A short while later I was spent. I stopped running and began walking home in the direction of the aforementioned car. I noticed that someone – presumably the note’s author – was now reversing from his driveway and being mildly inconvenienced by the parked car in the process. However, it was still very easy to get off the driveway, so I was a little surprised when the driver entered into a laboured and completely unnecessary 3-point-turn. When he straightened-up on the road parallel with the parked car, rather than pull away he began to reverse and turn towards it. He got closer. And closer. And closer. And then he saw me watching, stopping about 1cm from making contact with the car. I walked past and continued to watch. I knew what he was going to do – he was going to hit the car on purpose to make his petty point, and the angle he was doing it at would cause little to no damage to his own car whilst putting a sizable dent in the other. I took note of the driver. Now, I try where possible to avoid stereotyping people. But in this case it’s impossible. He was clearly the kind of sour-faced old bastard that spends his time writing letters of complaint to the council and throwing stones at the neighbours’ cats. He wound the window down:
‘Can I help you?’ asked Victor Meldrew
‘Well, I’m not just going to stand here and watch you hit that can on purpose to make some pathetic point’ said I, which I feel was particularly brave for Mr Non-Confrontational (I blame post-run hysteria, and it must be noted that I’d already calculated if things turned physical even I could probably ‘get a win’ out of this one. Although, as tempting as it might have been to beat the living piss out of this chap had he laid a hand on me, I would of course never stoop to such idiocy)
‘I’m just trying to get off my driveway’ he lied
‘Well, you’re off now. Away you go’ I offered
‘You need to mind your own business!’ came the response from a man who clearly felt his ridiculous actions were a completely justified way to fill the void between Bargain Hunt and Countdown.
The rest of the conversation is a bit of a blur. I repeated my stance of not allowing him to damage the car. He told me I should check with the police about the law’s regarding parking opposite peoples drives. I said I had better things to do and couldn’t really give a monkey’s. He called me a tosser and drove off. My favourite part of the whole debacle came when he got to the end of the street – clearly he hadn’t actually planned on going anywhere in his car and thus sat there in a state of befuddlement until he saw me approaching and was forced into a decision.
Just what you need after 3 hours of running, in a state of utter exhaustion with a 3,200 calorie deficit. People eh? Can’t kill ‘em, can’t…well, that’s it really.