Thursday, February 01, 2007

On Being a Scary Biker

The other night I got home to a dark house. I was expecting that, so it wasn't a big deal. I went about my "just got home" business, lost in thought about what to have for dinner or some other equally important topic.

I happened to glance up and was suprised by an angry-looking, leather-clad thug staring straight back at me!

The thug was, of course, just my reflection in the mirror. And that moment I realized why the other scary guy in the alley I walked through that morning got as far to his side of the alley as possible.

At the time, I just figured he was crazy.

People who know me will tell you that I'm one of the nicest folks you'll ever meet. I am an amiable, quick to laugh, mellow guy. Everyone has heard of the tough-looking biker who's really just a big teddy bear. That's pretty much me.

All the same, I have an extremely convincing "mean face." Wrap me in my riding gear, and I'm 6'2" of big, wild-haired and scary. In other words, I wouldn't want to meet me in a dark alley. Even without the mean face.

Especially if I haven't had my coffee yet. heh heh.

The mean face isn't particularly dramatic, just a general tightening of the jaw, widening of the eyes and a healthy crease of the brow. A combination of micro-expressions, if you will.

Like most scary-looking people, I just want to be left the hell alone most of the time. Indeed, I am probably more afraid of you than you are of me (I don't want your cooties.).

I'm aware of the bad reputation that sickle bums have among the norms. As such, I make a point to be courteous when riding, or just walking around in my gear. I hold doors for people, let other drivers in, say thank you when appropriate and generally behave in a gentlemanly way.

But a lot of times, being a scary biker comes in awfully handy. I work in a fairly rough part of town. There are a lot of unsavory characters walking around, most of whom I'd just as soon not talk to. In my regular work clothes, I'm a beggar and weirdo magnet. In my riding gear, particularly when using the mean-face, I get left alone.

In traffic, sometimes being a nice guy does not work. Every now and then, particularly in construction zones when traffic is stop and crawl, a cager will choose to be an ass. I'll have my blinker on, and try to get over, but the cager deliberately blocks me.

Since bullies and jerks really only respond to power, I'll turn on the mean face and STARE for a few seconds too long, and they usually have an instant attitude adjustment. Suddenly there's plenty of room for me to get over, and I resume my courteous riding practices.

Hell, I'll probably even let someone get in front of me, just to mess with the jerk behind me a bit more. Riding is supposed to be fun, after all.

Anyways, in most situations, I prefer to be a nice guy. Usually, nice works pretty well. Every now and then, though, it doesn't. In those situations, being a scary biker is awfully handy.


gary said...

At only 5'9", I still know exactly what you mean. I was called into the VP's office at work one time and asked to try to project a "friendlier" image around work.

Dressing all in black, all the time, was going to endanger my job security.

The worst part was having the crusty old machinist at work tell me that some of the guys thought I looked like a serial killer!

Shit! I'll have you know that I have never harmed a box of Wheaties or Cheerios in my life!

Damned profilin'...

Ride well,

Combatscoot said...

While I don't wear leather, I get similar reactions, especially if I let a few days go by between shaves. My wife says I look pretty damn scary when I'm pissed-off, too. Whenever folks at work get too difficult, she threatens to call me in and they change their tune.

Biker Betty said...

When I'm decked out in my leather chaps, Fieldsheer motorcycle jacket and a smile I can't believe the wonderful service I usually get in the stores. It's like they're tickled pink to be serving me. I was amazed the first time it happened. I just did the usual smile, please and thank you's and I usually get better service.

When I go to the same store dressed in my street clothes and same smile, they don't even notice me, lol.
Betty :)

AngiPants said...

Sales people ignore when I am in my leather gear. Good example. I was at Nordstrom's looking for some strappy-ass sandals for a party, and was in all my leather. Not one sales person offered to help. They only assistance I got was when I walked up to the counter to ask for a sandal in my size. The sales people even disappeared when I was ready to be rung up and I had to go to a different department. I laugh now, but I was really upset at the time.

I also love to mess with people when they try to cut me off, or merge into me. I will get in front of them and settle into a comfortable cruising speed of, oh say, 40 mhp on the freeway. FUN!