I did actually shout back, this time. But it's still pretty frustrating that when things like this happen, there's nothing you can really do about it.
I was on my way down Bronson Avenue this morning on a fairly wet, misty day. Bronson was jammed with cars - I guess because of construction in the Glebe forcing cars off Bank Street - and I was rolling along trying to strike that balance between staying to the right and trying not to hit the potholes. And around Carling this carload of young men - somewhere in their early twenties - rolled up past me, and they did that thing where they shout out the window to try and make the cyclist jump. Maybe even - hyuk hyuk - fall over. I looked up, but I pride myself I didn't really flinch that much, although they did keep making barking sorts of noises out of the car at me. Traffic was slow enough that they couldn't just speed past, and before I knew it, I was saying, in absolute disdain and annoyance, "Oh, fuck off." They laughed. I have to point out that if you were casting actors to play young, stupid jocks in an SUV, you would have cast these guys. Blond, short-haired, muscular, stereotypical football-team types listening to techno and smoking out the windows of the car. Right out of a high school movie.
They laughed, and you know just what their laughter sounded like, and kept sort of leaning out the windows to look at me as I pedaled along and they paced me in the car, for about two blocks. Just when I was about to look up and point out to them that if they kept driving along right beside me like that, I was going to call them in for harassing me, they pulled ahead: I caught up to them again at a light (refusing to let them intimidate me into changing course or avoiding them), and they leaned back out the windows, looked at me, laughed and talked among themselves, but didn't actually say anything. They did, however, wait for me to draw even with them, and then paced me, again, for another half block, at which point I said, "Just keep rolling, guys," and they did pull away, although it probably wasn't because of me. It was probably because they were holding up traffic.
What bugged me about it was that I didn't get the license plate. My phone was dead anyway. And there was no real way to respond to them that they wouldn't have been amused by: anger would amuse them. Fear would amuse them. Even my "Oh, fuck off" probably amused them, although the ease and disdain with which it came out made me feel a little better. There is no way to win. I shouldn't even waste the energy on being annoyed with them. But it is hard to accept the existence of idiots.
Here, guys: here's a song for you.