Thursday, November 17, 2011

Je kijk niet

I just had my first cycling argument in Dutch!

Maybe not one to be proud of, but whatever, it's progress on the language front. 

On the way home, I take a one way street and sometimes hop the curb to the sidewalk and pull right up to my doorway. When I do this, I always signal with my hand. Usually, I'll check behind me too, but not all the time. It's a rather mellow street. (I don't curb hop if there are pedestrians around.)

Today, I was cycling about 2 feet away and parallel from the sidewalk. Apparently a lady was cycling up fast behind me intent on clearing me in those two feet (and not the other 10 feet of the road). I signalled with my hand that I was going left, but apparently she didn't see it. Instead she came up very close, swerved and then sped by, yelling at me.

Well, the New Yorker me hasn't died out yet, because I yelled back.

Grumpy lady: (angry dutch sounds, moet je hand... angry)

Me: Ik met de hand! Je kijk niet!

Grumpy lady: (Angrier dutch, fading as she rides away)

Me: Ik denk je kijk niet!

I don't know who's right or wrong, but I did what I was supposed to do. It's a quiet street. It's dark. I don't know how she managed to not see me... I guess she wasn't expecting that I'd be going onto the sidewalk- but that's what the hand signals are for!


  1. "..... , but whatever, it's progress on the language front."

    LOL ...:D Haaaahaaaa ... you're inveterately humorous.
    L&Friends ;)

  2. That's a very funny story! It's not perfect Dutch, but perfectly understandable, hence the 'angrier Dutch' reply.
    (Someone Dutch would have said something like:
    Ik steek mijn hand toch uit. Je kijkt niet!
    but you were close enough!) :-)

  3. Your hand signal was probably the unusual element, simply not recognized ...

  4. Excellent!

    On my Facebook feed this morning, somebody posted the "Dutch word of the day": medezeggenschapsoverleg.

    Maybe you can work that into your next argument. Ha.

  5. So often, anger is a sign of being in the wrong.

    Much better to have conflict between people on bicycles, rather than between a motorist and a person on a bicycle.

  6. You should always look behind you and try and make eye contact. Hand signals are only for those cases where you see that there is traffic near you. Also, the lady coming up behind you had right of way, although she should not have passed so closely.

  7. I remember when I was learning French. In most situations I wasn't very good at it but then suddenly when angry, all this French came out of me and I discovered that I actually had learned a lot after all.