Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Heat Addled

It's 32 or 33 degrees out there, and feels like 42 or 43 because of the more than 90% humidity (that's about 107 Fahrenheit for anyone not working in metric.) And for some reason it seems to me that heat like this makes people stupid. Yesterday, I was driving, and had to swing out to avoid a cyclist coming down the wrong side of the street toward me. Of course, I also spotted a matched set of bike cops, black uniform shorts and matching bikes and all, heading across the grass from the sidewalk to wait at the edge of the road, then (illegally) cross Saint Patrick, nowhere near a crossing or intersection or light, up and over the grass median, and then across the other side, forcing traffic to stop for them while they got onto the sidewalk on the far side.

Ah, hypocrisy. But let that be.

When it's this hot out, though, and I'm slogging up a hill (and I really do need to get my gears fixed) and a driver skims too close to me, or pulls out of his driveway into the road without looking for me, or cuts me off on a right turn, or has somehow gotten her front tires actually onto the sidewalk at the edge of the road, blocking my way, for no discernible reason, or whatever else, I just wish I actually had the stickers referenced in this little excerpt from Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash. Oh, and the balls that the Kourier (her name is Y.T. and she's a protagonist) has in the first place...

Someone is shadowing him. Right off his left flank. A person on a skateboard, rolling down the highway right behind him, just as he is laying in his approach vectors to Heritage Boulevard.

The Deliverator, in his distracted state, has allowed himself to get pooned. As in harpooned. It is a big round padded electromagnet on the end of an arachnofiber cable. It has just thunked onto the back of the Deliverator's car, and stuck. Ten feet behind him, the owner of this cursed device is surfing, taking him for a ride, skateboarding along like a water skier behind a boat.

In the rearview, flashes of orange and blue. The parasite is not just a punk out having a good time. It is a businessman making money. The orange and blue coverall, bulging all over with sintered armorgel padding, is the uniform of a Kourier. A Kourier from RadiKS, Radikal Kourier Systems. Like a bicycle messenger, but a hundred times more irritating because they don't pedal under their own power -- they just latch on and slow you down.

Naturally. The Deliverator was in a hurry, flashing his lights, squealing his contact patches. The fastest thing on the road. Naturally, the Kourier would choose him to latch onto.

No need to get rattled. ... He passes a slower car in the middle lane, then cuts right in front of him. The Kourier will have to unpoon or else be slammed sideways into the slower vehicle.

Done. The Kourier isn't ten feet behind him anymore -- he is right there, peering in the rear window. Anticipating the maneuver, the Kourier reeled in his cord, which is attached to a handle with a power reel in it, and is now right on top of the pizza mobile, the front wheel of his skateboard actually underneath the Deliverator's rear bumper.

An orange-and-blue-gloved hand reaches forward, a transparent sheet of plastic draped over it, and slaps his driver's side window. The Deliverator has just been stickered. The sticker is a foot across and reads, in big orange block letters, printed backward so that he can read it from the inside.


He almost misses the turnoff for The Mews at Windsor Heights. He has to jam the brakes, let traffic clear, cut across the curb lane to enter the Burbclave. The border post is well lighted, the customs agents ready to frisk all comers -- cavity-search them if they are the wrong kind of people -- but the gate flies open as if by magic as the security system senses that this is a CosaNostra Pizza vehicle, just making a delivery, sir. And as he goes through, the Kourier -- that tick on his ass -- waves to the border police! What a prick! Like he comes in here all the time!

He probably does come in here all the time. Picking up important shit for important TMAWH people, delivering it to other FOQNEs, Franchise-Organized Quasi-National Entities, getting it through customs. That's what Kouriers do. Still.

He's going too slow, lost all his momentum, his timing is off. Where's the Kourier? Ah, reeled out some line, is following behind again. The Deliverator knows that this jerk is in for a big surprise. Can he stay on his fucking skateboard while he's being hauled over the flattened remains of some kid's plastic tricycle at a hundred kilometers? We're going to find out.

The Kourier leans back -- the Deliverator can't help watching in the rearview -- leans back like a water skier, pushes off against his board, and swings around beside him, now traveling abreast with him up Heritage Boulevard and slap another sticker goes up, this one on the windshield! It says


The Deliverator has heard of these stickers. It takes hours to get them off. Have to take the car into a detailing place, pay trillions of dollars. The Deliverator has two things on his agenda now: He is going to shake this street scum, whatever it takes, and deliver the fucking pizza all in the space of ... the next five minutes and thirty-seven seconds.

What can I say? It beats the other dream-weapon my brother once suggested: a quick-release, handlebar-mounted ballpeen hammer. Because in the interest of not perpetuating the cycle of violence, I don't actually advocate damaging the cars of sloppy drivers. 


  1. Actually, at the temperature peak (34), the humidity was "only" 51%. By 11pm, we did have 80% humidity -- but mostly cause the temperature had dropped to 27. Still, the humidex (at peak) of 43 was pretty impressive.

  2. Ahhhhhhh, *felt* like 90%. I was sweating from my eyeballs. :-P