Monday mornings are always the best ones.
After having spent most of the weekend relaxing from a heavy, stressful double-job spiced week, I start a new five working days strip with less energies than expected.
The alarm clock on my cellphone ringing up at 6 AM.
My girlfriend cuddling up against the duvet.
The winter darkness indoors.
The winter darkness outdoors.
The gentle muttering of the coffee mocha.
Three handfuls of cold water on my face.
(Those awful rings below my eyes).
Another daily article from the UK to deliver within a quarter past eight.
Do the Italian audience know what NHS, OBR and NIN are?
(Do you? Behold! The last one doesn't stand for Nine Inch Nails, apparently). I assume not and need to write them down.
Alright. Article done.
Now there's only a short bike ride through the suburbs left, all the way down to the business park where another monitor awaits me.
On normal circumstances this is an enjoyable part of the day.
I live pretty close to a primary school and I do like seeing kids on their way to school. My mum was a primary school teacher, loved her job and I'm sure she would have liked to see that too. I often think about that when I see these little Britons chasing each other in the school playground with their violet sweaters and their funny jargon.
I've always been kind of sympathetic towards the British kids and their parents. And I've always thought that - as long as they don't discover alcohol - they're generally more polite than their Italian counterpart.
When I ride to work, it's nice seeing these kids walking to school hand in hand with their parents with very little traffic in the streets and a sort of relaxed, joyful attitude even in the freezing cold of December. It is something that calms me down and I think I smile while cycling at a very moderate speed till the end of the road.
But today things went differently. Today, as usual, I slowed down before the zebra crossings and let a kid cross the road. I almost stopped in the process. Then I had a look at my left and saw how a bunch of kids with their parents were approximately 5-10 yards before reaching the stripes and I pushed on the pedals.
I mean these people were not even crossing. But that didn't occurred to an outraged mother who screamed at me:
«You're supposed to stop at the zebra crossing».
«Idiot!» (added up an outraged father).
Now, is it crying at the passing cyclist a national sport, I wonder? Or is it just me being an irresistible marvel of the streets?
I decided not to reply, but maybe it was a wrong idea.
Later on I couldn't get over the anger and frustration of that moment.
Ah, you should have heard the hatred these people expressed with their remarks! They made me feel like a beast. They made me feel like the worst bastard on the peaceful tree-lined and pot-holed streets of England.
Let's make it crystal clear. It's not a matter of racism as I could have been British myself, as far as these parents were concerned.
It's just that I cannot explain what I did wrong. Am I supposed to stop at the zebra crossing forever, I wonder? No kid was in danger, no one get closer to my bike than 5 yards, nobody had even put their feet on the stripes. I actually STOPPED. I let a kid cross.
What if I had had a car? I am sure nobody would have said anything. They saw a cyclist and they thought they could express their rage to him. Well done, Mother and Father Courage! You are brave-hearts.
What I thought is that these over-apprehensive, moral censoring parents went nuts. And what worries me is the kind of education these people are giving to their own kids screaming "idiot" at strangers without any reason.
Now I'm not that sure if the education provided here is all that good. But let me just add one more thing: no kid said a word. Perhaps, despite of their arrogant, street fighting parents they could still grow up in a decent and well-mannered way.
And, after all, we are all in this together. For what it's worth.