As I bike to and from work each and every day, I have ample time to observe the minutiae of everyday life unfolding before my weary, weather-buffeted eyes in all its unusual and unexpected ways. Most of the time I ride quickly past certain events and happenings without showing any more interest than a quick side glance across or the break of a smirk upon my face; just occasionally however, I do feel a need to stop and offer a helping hand, and this is what happened just the other day as I cycled back from work during a cold morning sprinkled with winter’s first frosts.
Lifting my head to adjust my MP3 earplugs, I spotted in my approaching distance the askew tail end of a navy Renault Clio, which was parked straddling half onto the pavement and half into the road, thus blocking my intended cycle lane route. As I got closer to this potential death inducer and began to slow down, the car’s driver walked from the front of the car to the Clio’s petrol cap flap at the right-hand rear panel that jutted into the road. The bloke in question looked like a bald-headed Neanderthal sh*t kicker and as the morning had dawned with a winter’s bite, I could see clouds of billowing mist emanating from his panting mouth and also steamy wisps rising from his shaved-bald head. As this Ape was now adding to the overall width of his car by sticking his oversize frame in my way, I realised I’d be nearly into the oncoming traffics’ lane just to skirt past his vehicular blockage.
Braking as I approached the bloke’s position, I watched as he popped the petrol filler cap and lifted up a two litre clear plastic bottle full of petrol with one hand; in his other hand, he held the cut down top-half of another two litre plastic bottle which was fashioned into a homemade funnel of sorts. Balancing this funnel one-handed, he then poured the petrol from the other bottle and it was at this point I realised this person wasn’t the bane to cyclists everywhere but had just run out of fuel, hence his limbo-placed Renault. As I reached his position, I slowed once more to a cruise and as I steered around him, the smell of petrol hit me and this is when I spotted his dilemma: the fuel was going into the funnel but wasn’t entering the tank and instead was just pouring down the car panel to the road.
I felt guilty for being so judgemental as I’d cycled towards this poor bloke, lumbered with the unenviable task of trying to get his car going again, so decided it was time for my good deed of the day. Doing about ten miles an hour on a frosty tarmac surface requires a little stopping distance though and so, with my brake levers pulled to my grips and my boot soles adding extra friction on the road, I came to a stop about fifteen feet further on.
“WHOA! HEY?!” I called out to get his attention. At this, the bloke turned to look at me straddling my bike and pointing at him, “I think you’re doing it wrong!” I said, wearing a welcoming smile and nodding my head in the hope he’d see I was trying to be helpful, though this didn’t appear to have the desired effect. What had just left my mouth was met with a blank stare and gormless expression, countered with a squint crease forming between the bloke’s eyebrows.
So I tried again, only this time along with a raised voice I pointed in the direction of the spilt petrol on the road’s tarmac. “It’s not going into the tank, mate ‘cause you’re not using a proper petrol can with a spout,” I said and used my hands to animate a long, pointed object. “You see, there’s a flap inside the tank’s funnel and the spout opens it for the petrol to go in, yeah?”
Maybe I shouted back a little too loud due to my MP3 earphones still vibrating my eardrums or perhaps my overt gesturing contributed to the bloke's sudden change, I don't really know but things went from downhill in the blink of an eye. I continued to point at his homemade, plastic bottle funnel to emphasis his feeble folly into flammable liquid transference and watched as he looked from my finger, to his funnel and then down to the widening expanse of spoilt petrol at his feet. This three-way checking continued a couple of times until the bloke stopped and stared directly at me with a furious look adorning his reddened, frost-beaten face and began jettisoning enough nostril fog to be mistaken for a red-ragged Bull.
“Eh?! YOU WHAT...?!” and with this balled statement, the petrol spiller started out speaking relatively coherently but as his mounting anger got the better of him, any decorum rapidly dissipated into the ether with his breathless, misty yelling. “I DON’T GIVE A F**K, RIGHT?! LISTEN TO ME, YOU PRICK -”
What now followed was the rapid decline of the last ten thousand years of human civilisation as I felt my friendly smile and head nodding slowly come to a stop in the face of an increasingly unintelligible diatribe of spasmed anger. Indeed, I had to pull my MP3 earplugs out as I thought my music was the reason I couldn’t understand a word the bloke was saying, but he’d actually reverted back to a primordial, monosyllabic language of grunts, screams and Tourette’s tics. I think being stoked up to such a fury - what with the cold of the morning, a car running out of petrol and now me shouting at him whilst he watched his valuable fuel run into the gutter – had rendered him incapable of accepting a helping hand and so, his boiling rage imploded gloriously along with his declining word structure.
“IF I F**KIN WAN NED YEH TEH SA F**KIN ENYTHIN AD F**KIN ASK FER YEH TA SPEKE YA K**T, REHT?!!” flew towards me like an indecipherable stream of consciousness tornado, albeit with the odd swear word included that could be understood, although on their own meant nothing within the profanity maelstrom.
As I continued to absorb this scene of degeneration, the bloke plopped the petrol bottle down onto the top of the Clio’s roof and in doing so, sent a little geyser of fuel erupting upwards and onto his paintwork from the force used. Then, he just tossed the homemade funnel aside with the force of an 18 stone, six foot spoilt child having a temper tantrum and came at me, uttering complete gibberish as he waddled towards my bike's position.
“YEHFEKINKUNTAMGOINTEHRIPYEFEKINNEKOUNSHINYEHTHROT!” rang out with each accelerating step he took and immediately my boots were back on my pedals and I was off, rotating my crank arms like a man possessed to get away from this lunatic.
Glancing over my shoulder a good stretch down the road, I saw the bloke back at his Renault Clio and again trying to put petrol into its fuel tank with his concoction of plastic bottles, safe in the knowledge he wasn’t going to be catching up with me anytime soon. As I rode back home, I thought about his last indecipherable, spittle-encrusted utterance and after some time, came to the conclusion he’d said something along this line, although I may have translated the basic language of the Missing Link wrongly:
“You f**king c*nt, I’m going to rip your f**king neck out and sh*t in your throat”
Like I’ve said at the beginning of this story, it feels good to help people out and do your good deed for the day, even if it means you have to occasionally deal with absolute f**king morons once in a while!