Wednesday, May 6, 2015

7 Things People Yell from Cars

Most vehicle inhabitants seem happy to drive by runners on the road without much fanfare. For a small number of drivers and passengers, however, the sight of a runner on the road is excellent reason to roll down the window and start yelling.

It's likely that the things yelled at male runners differ categorically from the things yelled at female runners. I consider myself a competent observer of the former and not the latter. So I am sure the following has a male slant. And I'm sure female runners could contribute to this post a whole other category of things yelled. 

That said, here are seven things that have been yelled at this male runner over the years.

1. "Get off the road!"

You're right. I should get off the road. That's just smart. We runners shouldn't be out here, demanding that drivers share the road, and making certain drivers feel bad, on top of it all, about their not having exercised in 11 years.

No one should be on the road without an engine. Roads are for vehicles, not people. Who do runners think they are, anyway? 

If they insist on running on roads, runners have to expect it to be dangerous. They have to expect cars and trucks to drive near them. They shouldn't expect drivers to steer a bit to the left for them or to tap their brake pedals a bit. That's inconvenient for the driver! No driver should have to do that!

2. "Give my little sister her shorts back!"

Ha! Kudos to this yeller for creativity. Less creative yellers deliver the same sentiment with the more mundane, "Nice shorts!"

What guy runner who favors short racing shorts hasn't, at some point, been ribbed for their shortness?

It used to be that every athlete that performed in shorts -- from runners to basketball players to soccer players -- wore sensible, lightweight, short shorts that did not restrict leg movement and did not weigh thirteen pounds.

Now, of course, the long and baggy look is everywhere. And do we all know where the long and baggy look came from? It came from prison.

Belts are contraband in prison. Federally-issued prison threads are often issued too big for the wearer. And custom tailoring is not available in the clink. For these reasons, and possibly others, the incarcerated of the '80s began to walk around with overly large, prison-issued pants falling off of their asses.

This look then became a look. It traveled from prisons to inner-city streets, to suburbs, to professional sports, to... everywhere. Now millionaires schussing Aspen's slopes don fashions influenced by the baggy, saggy, droopy look born in federal penitentiaries. And, sadly, almost no non-runner younger than 45 knows a good pair of athletic shorts when he sees them.

It used to be that all short-panted athletes wore sensible, functional, short shorts.
Lookin' good, Julius!

I look at it this way: runners who wear short shorts -- as short as the shorts Julius Erving and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar used to wear -- are the people who are hanging onto functional fashion that's not influenced by convicted felons. I think that's pretty classy of us.

3. "Wooooooaaaaaahhhhh hahaaaaaa!"

It's usually a teenaged boy who yells this. I don't know what it means exactly. It could be a jubilant celebration of human activity and the battle against sloth, lethargy, apathy, the diabetes and obesity epidemics, and premature death.

But it feels more like adolescent ridicule, and tends to revive ancient, 5th-grade memories of being heckled by older kids in a school hallway.

4. "Great hill training!" and other friendly ambiguities

Sometimes, you can tell that a stranger is yelling something positive -- something friendly and encouraging -- but you're either not 100% sure of what they've said or not 100% sure of the meaning of what they've said.

A smiling woman hung her head out of her SUV the other day while I was running in hilly country and just approaching a particularly steep, long hill, and she yelled: "Great hill training!"

In this case, I could hear the words clearly, but wasn't sure if she meant I was doing some great hill training, or the area was great for hill training, or that particular hill was great for hill training....

I wasn't actually doing any hill training. I was just out for a few miles in my neighborhood, which is hilly. Given, however, the stuff some people yell at runners from cars, I appreciated the obviously friendly spirit of her yelling.

So I produced an equally positive response. I returned the smile and yelled: "You know it!" I didn't actually know what she knew. But it was that kind of exchange.

5. #%@&*#%@&#!!!!

Now why would you say that to me? Do I know you? Did I do something horrible to you? Do I look like, or remind you of, someone who did something horrible to you? Do you need counseling? Your meds? A few years to grow up?

6. "Go, Danaaayyy!"

"Hey!", who the hell was that? Was that John?  I think that might've been John. Or did he sell that car? Yeah, he got rid of that car, so that had to've been Stew. I think it was Stew.  ...either Stew or Mike...or maybe Anders. Or was it Pete? It could've been Pete. It probably was.

7. "Run, Forrest, run!"

What? My name isn't Forrest ... hey, wait a minute! You're joking about the movie Forrest Gump! Ha! No one has ever said that to me before! Did you just create that excellent and completely original joke? I hope no one steals your joke and takes credit for your wittiness.

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  1. Just the other day I had a guy slow down next to me and say "that's a pretty good pace for a husky guy, I used to be a runner too". I said "thanks?"

  2. I think the oddest thing that has happened to me while running was during a 7 mile run in high school.

    This car slowed down, a woman shouted something out the window (I couldn't understand what she said), and the next thing I knew, a slice of pizza flew in front of my face. It missed me by a few inches. Who throws pizza at a runner? While on a run? In the Arizona desert heat? I'm still confused by that experience.

    And yes, as a female runner, we do get a whole other category of stuff shouted at us.

  3. Here in South Carolina we get people revving their motorcycles precisely as they are approaching the runner. I'm always alert that someone is going to do something stupid as I run, but the last one caught me off guard. The noise was so loud it threw me off balance and I almost fell onto a busy 4 lane road from the sidewalk. What do you do with that? I mean, they are just going to drive off so fast that you don't catch their license plate number in time to report them. All you can do is curse under your breath, hope karma's a real bitch and continue with your life until the next dumbass comes up with something new and clever.

  4. On the north end of Elm, a blue Chevy Cavalier filled with high school boys passed me, slowed, then turned around. On its second pass, the chubby drive leaned out and shouted, "Hey! Haven't you heard of Atkins?!"