On our way back from the hardware store the other day, we were waiting in a turn lane between some cars. As a gentleman turned in front of us in his SUV he hollered something out the window.
That’s not so unusual. When you’re on a bicycle lots of people in cars seize the opportunity to have a little human contact and shout something at you – sometimes it’s positive, sometimes it’s less kind.
The unusual part was specifically what this guy yelled and that it happened the day before the 4th of July.
So there we were, riding two cargo bikes transporting three sinks, four faucets, four garden hoses, three sprinklers, and a random assortment of hose connectors.
As the gentleman in the SUV passed he leaned out his window and shouted,
“What country are y’all from?” as he chuckled and sped off.
I can only guess this guy meant it as some sort of insult, that we were not-quite-American because we weren’t driving a large motor vehicle like he was.
After he passed I started to laugh a bit to myself too. What country were we from? Really?
We were riding two cargo bikes, one purchased at a locally-owned bike shop and the other built, by hand, by an independent, local builder. We were carrying hundreds of dollars of construction materials and a sprinkler system bought at an American-owned hardware store chain located in Tigard, the city where we live. We had just pulled out of a locally-owned restaurant where we ate lunch and left a large and well-earned tip for a woman who lives in the same community as we do.
Many of those expenditures were made possible by giving up making car payments to foreign manufacturers, interest payments to foreign-owned banks, and fuel payments that get funneled into the oil fields of other countries.
I wish the gentleman who hollered at us knew how much bicycles contributed to the health and welfare of the country he presumably cares so much about. The United States is a great nation but it certainly wouldn’t hurt us if there were a few more bicycles a few less cars on the road.
I would have stopped and talked with this gentleman but by the time all this had run through my mind he had already sped his foreign-built car far, far down the road.
Maybe I’ll run into him the next time I’m at the hardware store and we’ll get to talking.