In my rookie year, 3 months in, I got doored on School Street. I was dispatched out of the Option office at 36 Bromfield; the job was a 44 School to 294 Wash— no shit, two blocks, literally around the corner. Traffic was tight and flowing, with every parking space filled. It wasn't a commercial zone back then, it was metered parking. The car was an older BMW, and the door just cleared my front wheel as it swung open. I went up and over through the window, and landed with the showering glass on my back on the other side. The whole thing was a mess, and I still have a piece of glass in my head for it, but this is really just the background for this other story I wanted to tell...
When I was working for Presto doing airline ticket runs, it was in the same office that Option had vacated at 36 Bromfield. Dispatch was in the front room, and we would hang out in the back between runs. I think everyone smoked in this office; we definitely blew bones in the stairwell. It was usually Spencer— when Minuteman closed their office down the hall of 36, he bought their list and ran Go-Go, and did the best art in the third floor bathroom— and Paul Tree from Think Tree, and I. Every once in while Billy Wig from Hell Toupee would be special guest star riding for Spence.
I think Paul worked for Central. They were a driver-based company from out of town, and he had never met them. He was their only biker, and they had an ever-present walker named Nancy. Nancy looked like an aged hippy, dressed in well-worn coats and crocheted hats, was always over-dressed for the weather but was always there regardless of what it was doing. She was a fixture and a curiosity.
The story I got from Paul went something like this; Nancy lived with a Central driver named Shanti in a trailer somewhere. I heard that he didn't pay taxes and didn't use banks, like he had all his money in cash in mason jars somewhere, and was pretty vocal about his politics. Mid-'90s 'off the grid' type. I knew of Shanti and didn't really care for him, he'd occasionally try to muscle-in on some courier related event, and his mannerisms were really off-putting.
So anyway, this is a few years later from that dooring as a rookie, and I'm going down School, I forget where to, but traffic's rolling, and I see Shanti, cracking the door of his parked shit-filled shitbox looking to the back up the hill. We met eyes, he saw me coming,.. and he still opened his door. The door hit my right hand, I knew immediately it was cracked somehow, but not how bad. I wasn't knocked down, I had strangely suspected he would fuck me, adjusted foot down, and dismounted.
I was totally astonished he had done it, but felt some personal blame for even trusting him. He looked, he was a driver, he knew the risks as much as I. I mean he fucking looked, as a driver should reflexively, and still did it. Maybe I'm giving the world too much credit to think a person wouldn't do that; show some consideration and then consider otherwise. But this person was Shanti.
The arguing started and moved over the curb and into the park. I don't know what stupid stuff was said, I just remember him with his greasy, ill-fitting glasses, and puffy, blue down jacket that just added to his bulk. He had a Jerry Brown pin on his jacket, and I saw this as a clear omen I was going to get nowhere with this entire incident.
I remember him saying shit like, "I thought you could make it," and this excused his failed attempt at judging if he should fling his door open into moving traffic.
When I said my hand was likely broken— I've had enough broken ones to know— he say, "You can't sue me; I don't have insurance." I was just amazed at his lack of any kind understanding, any kind of empathy, or desire to make it right. I was so stunned, I couldn't be pissed off. We knew each other, traveled in the same circle, he was a Jerry Brown supporter, and so,.. what the fuck?
This kind of back-and-forth went on for a short minute, and suddenly there's this big, curvy hippy girl stepping up. She's kind of cute though, really should've been wearing a bra, and starts chicken-necking. "Yo! Dude! I saw the whole thing! I'll show up in court and be a witness! Let's sue him!" She's super animated and jiggling and putting on that act traveler kids have.
I make an effort to calm her down enough to get back at getting no where with Shanti, and I get hit in my upper left arm from my blind-side. I turn and this really old Beacon Hill-type guy in too much tweed has just hit me with his cane and is shaking it the air at me, and yells with spittle flying, "You rotten bastard on a bike! You got what you deserved!"
I just looked at the old man with his cane and rumpled tweed, then the hippy chick and her boobs, then Shanti squinting through his glasses. I became calm and clear-headed and entirely understood what was going on and what I had to do.
"All you people are so fucked up," I said as I rode away to make my next drop.