Rock, Paper, Scissors
I am sure all of you know that old childhood game: Rock, Paper, Scissors. Unless I am mistaken, there was even an adult version that was a reality TV show with a Las Vegas finale and a large cash prize. For those of you who either had a deprived childhood or have lost too many brain cells to remember, the game goes like this—two players face each other and each makes a fist. Then they raise and lower their fists three times, and on three they throw their choice of rock, paper, or scissors. Rock is a fist, paper a flat hand, and scissors a pair of fingers held in a V shape. The rules are simple: rock breaks scissors, paper covers rock, and scissors cut paper. It is a fair game; anyone can win just so long as the opponent happens to choose the weaker option. Often this game is use by children to decide the outcome of some issue that is not readily resolved by consensus, like who gets the good player on their team, or who get to go first.
Well, I have a feeling that some so-called adults have invented a new version of this game, one that can be played to deadly consequences, and often for things of equally little value as who goes first. I have seen it played on roads all over the country, even in my polite, peaceful mountain home. Fortunately, I have not seen it played to the death or even major injury, but I have heard the stories of folks hospitalized for months or, worse, killed. I must admit that I too have succumbed to the temptation to play, though fortunately with no harm to anyone, aside from the psychic shock of knowing I just did something stupid that could have gotten me killed. Heck, as I look back to my earlier days of riding a motorcycle in New York City, I remember being a master at the game; the fact that I am here to write this proves that I was undefeated. However, ask any child—no one remains undefeated at Rock, Paper, Scissors forever; sooner or later winners become losers. In my case, I can only believe that it is simply by the grace of God that I stopped playing before I lost.
In the new game played on our highways and byways, the issues being decided are never worth the consequences, especially to the loser. For the winner the price of victory can often be cheap, even when the loser has lost his or her life. The rewards for winning can only be valued by folks with a twisted value system, in my humble opinion. The game has at least three choices for the players: truck, car, motorcycle, though sometimes you can add bicycles or mopeds. The game is played for high stakes, as in life or death, yet the players never see that until it is too late. The method of play varies according to the players, the road, and the momentary object in contention, but it always seems to start with a few basic mindsets on the part of the initiator—selfishness, disrespect, and maliciousness. In reality it is not a game at all, but it is truly childish to engage in it.
It could be a bicycle hogging a whole lane on a twisty mountain road, forcing a motorcyclist to cross the double yellow to pass, or a motorcycle recklessly disregarding that same yellow line to pass a car. A car and tractor-trailer playing tag, endless passing each other just so they can be “first” on the highway, or a pickup truck and sports car weaving in and out of crowded traffic to avenge some perceived affront to their man- or womanhood. The examples are endless in their mutations, yet they all have a common thread: they are ignorant, the road is not a school playground, and road users are supposed to be adults. While we can work with the American Motorcyclist Association to pursue the Justice For All Campaign—designed to make drivers responsible for injuring or killing others—there are a few things that will not change. Roadway confrontations are not a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors because there will always be the inherent unfairness of size. It goes like this: truck crushes car, car flattens motorcycle, motorcycle smashes bicycle. It is not a game, folks, so while we wage the good war to pass better laws and hopefully train better drivers, I would like to offer some sage advice, given to me by a highway patrolman in lieu of a ticket. Let the idiot who wants to play games go, slow down, turn off the road, take an alternate route, don’t ever pull over to “talk it out.” If they follow you, head to a place with lots of witnesses, or better yet to the local police station. The only way to win in this game is to not play. Ride Safe out there so you can ride another day.