Tag Archives: fight

Stroller rage

I was riding my bike to school today. There’s a good stretch of my route along 34th Ave. in Queens, a dedicated bike lane, but one with a traffic light at every single intersection. I’m not a reckless cyclist. Whenever I come to a red light, I at least slow down to make sure no cars or pedestrians are in the way before going through. I know, technically cyclists have to obey all of the rules that a car does. But that doesn’t make any sense. It takes a lot more for a bike to get going after a full stop than a car.


So I’m approaching this one red light, very slowly. It wasn’t even an intersection. Here was a traffic light that served no purpose other than to keep a spacing continuity with all of the other traffic lights. And this isn’t a busy street. It’s a single lane both ways. It’s not Queens Blvd.

The pedestrian crossing signs were white, for walk, on both sides. On one side of the street there was a dad holding one of those exercising strollers, but there wasn’t any child inside. At his side were three little kids of various ages, the oldest couldn’t have been more than five or six. Do you know why I had a chance to notice all of this? Because I was coming at the light really, really slowly. I wasn’t even pedaling, I was just rolling through.

Like I said, the dad and his kids were on one side, and I had a clear path across, and so I just went for it. But it wasn’t going to be so easy. As I made my way through, the dad ran across the street, leaving his kids back on the corner, and pushed the stroller right in my way. So I stopped, I got off the bike, and I kind of made a confused and annoyed face at the guy. “Come on man, we both had the light.”

“What?” he screamed at me. “You didn’t have the light! You had a red light!”

And yeah, whatever, if he was a cop, I guess he could’ve given me a ticket. But he wasn’t a cop. And there was no harm being done. This was just some vigilante super dad taking the laws of traffic into his own hands.

Then things escalated. I didn’t say anything back to him, but he started yelling. “You almost hit my kids!” and he took his stroller and started pushing me, hard. Like my whole bike was moving. And I looked at him and his jaw was clenched, he was physically shaking with rage.

Now I was getting angry too, call it fight or flight or whatever, but this guy was pushing me and all my body was doing was telling me to push back. What would have happened? I don’t know. This guy was about the same size as me, maybe a little shorter, but he had the whole really, really angry thing going for him. Thankfully, it only took about a second or two for me to realize that, no, I probably shouldn’t get into a physical fight with some random dude on the street, even if he did push me with his giant red sporty cool dad exercise stroller.

“Listen man, I apologize, OK?” I said it as sincerely as I could. My goal was simple, to defuse the situation and get out.

“OK!” he screamed at me, and I could tell that I’d gotten through to him somehow. That in the basest part of his animal brain, I’d submitted to his power, and even though he probably still wanted to punch, there was really nothing he could have done now short of straight out attacked me.

I used the moment to push free of his stroller and take a couple of steps forward. But now that I was sure he couldn’t get me, I called back, “Hey kids,” and I said this in one of those parenting voices that super annoying moms and dads use to talk to their kids like babies, “Daddy needs anger management classes.”

And he started coming at me and screaming something unintelligible, but I’d already pushed my bike ahead and started pedaling away. When I was positive that I’d made an escape, I yelled back, really loudly, “Hey asshole, I’m not really sorry, I just didn’t feel like getting beat up!” and they I just gunned it, not looking back.

Because, I’m serious, there’s no way I was even close to hitting his kids, absolutely zero percent. And I’m happy with how I handled the situation, not getting into a fight, speaking my mind once I was free of immediate danger. I probably shouldn’t have said asshole in front of his kids. That was my bad. But at least I didn’t do what I really wanted to do, to fight back. Because come on man, don’t fucking push me around. You want to yell at me on the street? Fine. I can take getting screamed at by some random d-bag. But don’t start pushing people. Maybe next time whoever you start pushing around is going to be a real whack-job. And what are you going to do when they start throwing lefts to your face? You want your kids to see you get your ass kicked?

This is my parking spot

So what, we’re going to stand here all day and argue over who saw this spot first? I saw it first. I’m going head in. Come on man, are we really going to do this? Don’t you think this is probably like the most cliché thing that we could be doing in this parking lot? Because look, I’m not a doormat, all right? I’m not just going to back away. And I get it, you know, I’m not claiming to be the best driver, but I’m a lot better than I was before. I don’t cut people off on the exit ramps, I wait in line. Some people cut right to the front? What am I going to do?

parking spot

But that’s on the highway. This is a parking lot, and I was absolutely here first. Listen ma’am, this is between your husband and me, OK? So why don’t you just lean your body back inside the car window and stop screaming at me, because you’re not helping. No, you’re making it worse. You’re making me feel like more of a doormat, like you think I’m going to back down just because you’re loud and pissed off?

No, I’m not going to be intimidated. What? Sister, whatever, wife, I don’t know. Just, sir, tell her to get back inside. No, I’m not telling you what to do, well … well I guess yeah, I am telling you what to do. Have your sister shut the fuck up for a second … OK, yeah, that wasn’t right, sorry for cursing at you. Ma’am, yes … OK … ma’am … right, I apologized. I’m sorry for saying fuck. But you see how agitated you’re making me?

Will you stop screaming for one second? Can I get one word in here? Yeah well I apologized for saying fuck, I didn’t apologize for the parking space because, why would I apologize? I had my blinker on as the car before was pulling out. Well it doesn’t matter if you saw me or not, because I was here, and that’s the way you park in a parking lot. You know how long I’ve been looking for a spot? A long time. I’ve been circling and circling like an idiot for like twenty minutes now, Jesus, the amount of time I’ve spent in this parking lot is like double how long it would have taken me if I’d just walked.

Honey, get in the car, honey, you’re not helping. Please, just sit down, please, will you let me handle this? Will you? Hey! Don’t talk to my wife that way! Yeah, well, that’s true, I was a little short with your wife … sister, sorry, right? Anybody ever tell you two you look like husband and wife? That’s not what I meant, it’s just, you know, you don’t really look like brother and sister. Is one of you two adopted?

See? I told you, I could tell. What are you, Italian? And you? All right, OK, I’m just saying, I knew it, you didn’t have to act so offended when I mistook you for husband and wife, you guys must get it all the time. Well, yeah, I guess I’d be annoyed if I was constantly getting mistaken for my sister’s husband.

Hey come on man, how long are we going to keep this up? Because … oh yeah? Well I’m not moving either. That’s what I was just going to say, I was going to be like, because I’m not moving. And I’m not moving. Here you go honey, take the keys, I’ll meet you inside. Fine, well, if this guy doesn’t want to move, I’ll just wait out here, you go eat dinner by yourself, just get me some takeout or something when you leave. I don’t know, order me anything. Just get me anything. Jesus Christ, fucking anything on the menu.

Sorry. I didn’t mean to curse at you. No, I’m not mad at you. I’m mad at this guy. Whatever, if he leaves, I’ll put it in neutral and push it in the rest of the way. Oh yeah, don’t get me any pasta, anything besides pasta. Or chicken. Just go … well, yeah, I guess I wouldn’t want to eat by myself either.

OK, go inside, get takeout, and we’ll eat here. You hear that buddy? We’re staying right here. We’re going to eat dinner right in this half of the parking spot. You want to try me? I’ll stay here all night. And that car behind you, they’re going to come back eventually, you’re going to have to move for them. I won’t budge. I’m just saying, I’ll stay here for as long as it takes. How you feeling? You need to go to the bathroom? Not me. I’m OK for at least twelve more hours.


I need a fight song. Something catchy. Something that, whenever anybody hears it, they’ll experience a strange mix of emotions. Their adrenaline will get going, so the first automatic response will be fight or flight. But for some reason, my fight song will disable the flight option in everybody who hears it. At the same time, people will start to get really scared and panicky. But the song is going to work on even more different levels. While the anxiety builds, people will become paralyzed by their fear. They’ll want to scream out, run away, do something, but they’ll be helpless. And that’s when I’ll make my entrance. Because that’s how I’ll use my fight song.

My high school had a fight song. But for some weird reason, fighting was strictly forbidden. I remember one time I was eating lunch in the cafeteria when some kid lunged across the room at another kid and started pummeling him (there was no music, fight or otherwise.) The lunchroom moderators broke it up and I’m pretty sure both kids got kicked out.

I got into one fight in high school. I was a freshman. There was this kid who lived in my town but went to a different middle school than me. Ninth grade rolls around and all of the sudden we’re on the same bus. I’m like, “Hey man, my name’s Rob, nice to meet you.” And he automatically starts calling me Robbie, in a little baby voice, making fun of my backpack, threatening to beat me up.

So I stood my ground, kind of. I didn’t back down, but I didn’t really have any good comebacks or anything. So it would be him making baby voice imitations of everything I said, and laughing with all of his d-bag friends on the bus, and me just kind of, you know, standing my ground, but just boiling over with rage, red in the face, unable to think of anything to say.

This went on for maybe two months until one day that was it. The fight song went off in my head. And while I like to say now that I’m totally anti-fighting, that there always has to be a better way to solve an argument, back then I was fourteen years old. I was about as tall as I am right now, but I only weighed maybe a hundred and fifty pounds. I was just really ready to prove myself, as a man, as somebody not to mess around with, as somebody who had his own fight song.

And maybe this guy thought I’d be easy pickings, because when I told him we’d settle it in the ring, there was just this non-reaction. And he just kept making fun of me and picking on me as if I hadn’t suggested we settle things mano-a-mano. So finally I had to like spell it out for the punk. “I am going to beat you senseless.” Stuff like that.

Looking back, the whole situation was incredibly ridiculous. If I were this other kid, I would have gone to the principal’s office, telling him that it was me being the one acting threatening, who kept bringing up physical violence, getting me kicked out and then laughing hysterically in the corner while I emptied out my locker. But no, he eventually agreed to the fight. We had to do it off of school property, obviously, because even though the school had a fight song, yeah, I already wrote about the no-fighting rule.

So we’re riding home on the bus and my bus stop was first. So this guy’s like, “I’m not getting off at your bus stop. You have to come to my bus stop.” And I was just like, “You got it.” And when the doors closed and my house disappeared in the distance, everyone knew it was on. And then it was his house. And we both got off. But, you know, we couldn’t fight right in front of his house. Somebody might come outside, his mom or one of his little sisters. So we walked around the corner.

And it was like, all right, I’ve got the fight song blasting in my head, let’s go. But I always remembered something my dad told me, something about never starting a fight, but never letting anybody else finish one. So I was consciously aware of me not wanting to be the first one to throw a punch. And then I started thinking to myself, punch? I don’t even know how to punch. I’ve never really punched anything. Where is my thumb supposed to go?

So we kind of just circled each other for a little bit, throwing a lot of taunts. While everyone on the bus had expressed what I thought was a sincere interest in the fight, I guess that nobody really wanted to get off at different bus stops and walk the rest of the way home, so there was just this one other kid with us. Finally, my bully reached out and pushed me, tapped me sort of. It was kind of aggressive I guess. Whatever, it was physical contact, so as far as I was concerned, he drew first blood.

I reached back, made a fist, and swung as hard as I could. It was really a lot less dramatic than I thought it would be. I guess I didn’t have enough muscle to really make my hand do any damage to this guy’s face. After I made contact, we both sort of just wrestled, each of us not wanting the other to make another fist. From a block’s distance, it might have looked like we were dancing.

It wound up with both of us on the ground in one of those mutual headlocks where if I let go he would have had me, but if he let go, I would have had him. It was a weird dual, very clenched embrace. And the last thing I remember was that other kid, the spectator, him running off. Some adult passerby in a car stopped, walked over to us and pried us apart. Neither of us knew him, he was just some dude breaking up a fight.

I walked home. I thought to myself, well, I was the only one who got a punch in, so I guess technically I won. The fight song grew louder in my head. I felt the adrenaline surging through my body, but this time I felt a release. I stood up for myself. And the next day that kid didn’t make fun of me. He didn’t say anything. And that’s what it was for the next four years.

I remember seeing him towards the end of senior year at a party or something. We just kind of made eye contact, nodded toward each other. My archenemy. I wonder if he heard it as we were locked together on the ground. I wonder if he heard my fight song. I kind of wish I really had a fight song, like on the computer, an MP3 that I could play and get myself all worked up. But, like I said, fighting is pretty stupid. I’m an adult now. What if I got in a fight and broke my nose? That would be ridiculous. How would I explain myself? “You don’t understand, this guy was making fun of me!”