One early morning, while I was still living in Amsterdam, I rode on my bike to work on the Rooseveltlaan, a very broad street, which I assumed was a priority road. Hence, when I saw a car coming from a side street without stopping, and a group of cyclists waiting for the car to cross the bike path, I thought: the bastard! And, also: the fools!
I calculated distances and relative velocities and figured that I could still make it, passing the car with a slight margen. I was right about that. Moreover, feeling that I had both justice and the law on my side, I stuck up my middle finger to the driver in the car while I rode by, just for good measure.
Unfortunately, I had not seen that the side street was wider than I thought and alongside the car I had just passed another car came along which was also about to cross the bike path. Instead, the car hit me on the side, full-on, and both me and my bike made a semi-arc through the air and came to lie down beyond the crossing, back on the bike path.
Just before I landed on the street, still flying in the air, I saw the traffic lights… They were red. Which meant I had been wrong all along. I did not have any priority whatsoever. I laid on the pavement with my eyes closed and my bike lying over me and heard worried voices of other people. I was so much filled with shame about the enormity of my blunder that I did not want to see them. The memory of the middle finger I had raised to the car driver made me cringe in painful embarrassment. I faintly hoped that I was sufficiently badly injured for it to be necessary to take me away unconsciously.
Alas, I had nothing except for some scratches.
The drivers of both cars had stepped out. Both were concerned, even friendly, which made things even worse. “Sorry, sorry, sorry,” I told them a three hundred thousand times. My face was, not unlike an overripe tomato, ready to explode. I waved away all the help, said I was fine, got up on my bike and rode away.
The shame was so big that I needed pretty much the rest of the entire day to pick myself up again.