"Did what?" he asked.
"Dropped in on me," I responded as I paddled back out to the lineup.
"I'll do it again," he challenged.
"Why?" I asked.
I was met by silence so I made my way back out where several people just shook their heads at his rudeness. It was the dawn patrol and it's not generally terribly agro out there. People wait their turn in the rotation.
A few minutes later the guy made it to the lineup and said, "Okay. I'll tell you why I dropped in on you. It's because you almost ran me off the road on Highway 1, passing on a blind curve."
I responded that he must have had the wrong guy. Being someone who bikes up Highway 1 and who has seen some bad incidents there, being retired, and not in much of a hurry anymore, I drive a sedate 55-60mph up Highway 1, respecting the 45mph in Davenport. Aside from farm equipment, I can count on one hand the number of people I've passed on Highway 1 in the past several years. I'm just not in that much of a hurry.
"What kind of car was it?" I queried, hoping to prove my innocence.
"I don't remember."
A couple of people in the lineup told him they found it hard to believe that Steve would run anyone off the road.
"It was you. I saw you," he argued.
Much later in the session after a long ride where I was coming around a section near the end of the wave, he dropped in again, preventing me from making the section. It was clearly symbolic as there was no real wave left. He went in after that.
The incident bothered me. It really bothered me.
I spent a sleepless night, trying to figure out how he could be so sure it was me when I know I don't drive like that.
An then it dawned on me.
I don't remember exactly when, but I was driving my Audi up the coast (Karen must have had the electric car since that's what I usually drive). I was north of Santa Cruz in the right lane just past Granite Rock approaching Dimeo Lane - the road that leads to the Santa Cruz dump. The passing lane ends just after Dimeo.
I saw a van on Dimeo approach the stop sign but didn't think anything of it. I figured he'd stop until I went by. But, he didn't stop, didn't even look. I had momentary hopes that he'd stay to the right since there were still a few yards until it became a single lane and there was a wide shoulder on the right, but no, he pulled out into the middle of the merging lanes going maybe 10 to 15mph. I slammed on my brakes and felt the ABS kick in. Just before slamming into the back of him, I swerved left across the double yellow line, stepped on the gas and zipped around him.
I don't think I honked - there wasn't time. I just wrote it off as someone who was completely distracted. But it was a close call, almost ending my accident-free driving record.
As my speed got back up to my usual 55-60mph, I looked in my rearview mirror and there he was, honking his horn and crawling up my butt. When we reached the passing lane by 3-mile, he didn't pass, he just kept surging behind me and honking his horn. I continued driving sedately and he eventually pulled off at four-mile as I continued up the coast wondering what had gotten into that guy.
I guess he's been holding a grudge for a long time. It wasn't a blind curve - the road was perfectly straight and no cars were coming. There was a wide shoulder that he didn't need because I passed in the other lane. But somehow in his mind, I raced up behind him at a million miles an hour and blew by him passing where I shouldn't have. He's sure I'm some asshole driver who tried to force him off the road.
And of course, now he has to pay me back in the surf.
I'm sure I've done it and you've done it. We lock into our perspectives and are sure we're in the right. The other guy is in the wrong. The other guy is an asshole. It might be on the road; it might be in the surf; it might be in politics or in the Middle East.
But we're not always in the right. We all make mistakes. We often fail to see them.
Wouldn't the world be a better place if we could keep open minds, listen to the other side, and at least consider the possibility that we might not be in the right? If this approach doesn't solve the world's problems, it could at least make the roads and the surf a little less stressful.