20130922

A Social Observation

Whizzing by me on my way home, I don't start to worry until the truck slows down after passing me.  As I get closer all the possible scenarios run through my mind - will they yell?  Throw something?  I'm in the bike lane, I haven't broken any laws - did I maybe wrong them somehow?  

Their window is already down when I pull up next to them, and I look over ready to defend myself, bracing for the worst.

"I love your style!" A burly, bearded man shouts enthusiastically, "GO GIANTS!!" 

I smile and give him a thumbs up, yelling "Thanks!" as he waves and drives away.  

While I'm happy that there was no altercation - no anger or road rage, I'm mostly perplexed by this interesting social phenomenon that I've been noticing more and more lately.  I'm no Giants fan, by any means - I really have no loyalty to sports in any way, save for cycling (which I'm still pretty bad at "supporting"), but the camaraderie among sports fans around here is especially interesting when I'm on my commuter:


It certainly stands out.
I get way more comments with this bike than I do with any of my others, and many of those are along the lines of "GIANTS WOOHOO!"  Recently though I've been wearing a hi-viz long sleeve jersey since it's getting cooler, and events like this (as well as the comments) have increased.  Throw in my newfound appreciation of cycling caps, and lately I've been riding around a lot looking like this...


I have no shame.
This isn't actually the first time I've noticed that appearances change the way people treat you on a bike.  Once I was riding in a dress coming home from fancy occasion at work - it was the nicest ride I've ever had in terms of how others behaved on the road around me.  Everyone passed at a safe distance, used their blinkers, made eye contact with me, and even waved.  I take that same route every day, and that ride will always stand out in my mind because of how strangely nice it was.  

Here's where it starts to get interesting - now that my bike and my apparel make me look like a Giants fan, I'm noticing that my rides are a bit nicer, and incidents like the one I mentioned are a bit more common.  Though I have had a few people that honked before shouting their fandom out the window at me, which is always a bit startling.  I feel like a bit of an imposter, but at the same time I enjoy that people are being nicer because I'm suddenly someone that they can relate to.  Personally I'm rocking my jersey because it's really, really visible, but I'll take what I can get.   

Scientifically, if I really wanted to test this I could get a bike with Oakland As colors and gear that matches, then record my results.  Then I'd have to go to the East Bay and test both groups of team colors...and with peoples' loyalty to teams around here, I'd probably end up dead in a ditch somewhere.

But since I don't have a bike with As colors, or Sharks colors, or 49ers colors...for now I'll just continue to observe my experiences as a pseudo Giants fan and hopefully keep having pleasant experiences on the road. 

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