I will acknowledge that I have never been on a Pedal Pub, the relatively new to Minneapolis group activity that allows for a circle of friends to drink aboard a moving bar that is steered by the bartender. I feel like it was a couple of years ago when licensing was originally granted, about the time that food trucks had a renaissance and micro-breweries became more prevalent. All ideas intended to bring business and fun to the city. I would not object to an evening pedaling about and drinking beer with friends as the scenery changes but honestly the last month or so the activity has taken some weird turns.
Two recent situations with Pedal Pubs have brought to light a big problem in Minnesota. The problem has nothing to do with alcohol, nothing actually to do with Pedal Pubs at all, it has to do with the lack of common sense that exists among the people who choose to comment on these highly publicized stories. Being contrary is apparently the current cool factor. People have experienced so many “gotcha” moments when simply expressing their personal views regarding issues and current events that it seems apparent many people have developed a boomerang mentality of offering a comeback that is in fact the opposite of what one might anticipate. Opposition to what is simply civil behavior or what I knew growing up as “common sense”.
The first Pedal Pub scenario involved a group of grown men ambushing a Pedal Pub with squirt guns while on bicycles. While this might have been amusing for a group of guys in a bachelor party to do to the bachelorette party from the same wedding, this actually was a group of strangers. Some reports indicated there may have been other situations involving this group of overgrown boy pranksters but this one made the news because the Pedal Pub patrons included some off-duty suburban police officers who were unamused and subdued the perpetrators until the Minneapolis Police Department was able to respond. While charges were dropped this week the part I failed to grasp was the squirt gun wielding bandits were wanting to charge those that held them until police arrived. In essence, they wanted to have someone else punished for them being caught while committing their prank. They had a ton of supporters because in this boomerang thinking it’s hip right now to be anti-police, despite most news stories never mentioning the jobs of civilians who are just out with a circle of friends and I’m not certain if they ever told us if the guys with the squirt guns were pizza delivery drivers, bike couriers gone rogue or perhaps a cadre of lawyers. It’s unclear what the reaction might have been if it were a group of plumbers or a gathering of old frat brothers that brought these guys to their knees.
The real irony came from the people responding to the news stories in the online media. People saying “it’s only water” or feeling like police officers were heavy-handed. At the time the passengers were squirted they had no idea if it was acid, urine, water or bleach that had gotten on them. Personally, if I am paying for an evening activity downtown I think that it is fair to make the assumption that I don’t need to bring a change of clothing or be wet and chilled or have to cut my experience short to return home. Would people have commented differently if these were patrons of Orchestra Hall or ticket holders to an evening performance at a theater that had their evening ruined when a group of strangers super-soaked them? Is this a new norm that we should expect when coming out of a church after a wedding or a funeral? What about Twins fans? Can they be sprayed without their consent simply because they are in the city? Are there age restrictions in this new “open-minded” approach? Perhaps squirting babies in strollers or getting the reactions from senior citizens surprised by an unexpected dousing would be a real hoot! Is this what convention attendees should anticipate when visiting Minneapolis? This likely does not help the tourism industry or encourage shopping and dining downtown.
The incident last night involving a Pedal Pub was more serious, it was rear-ended by a vehicle. All passengers but the driver were sent to the hospital and as of this morning there are three that the news indicated are seriously injured. When the car struck it tipped the Pedal Pub over, initially pinning some of the patrons. The situation is still under investigation, with the driver being tested for impairments and likely evaluated regarding distractions. This morning posters on local sites have been relentless in blaming the Pedal Pub patrons. There are accusations of public intoxication and that they had likely planned to drive home after the event and that the act of pedaling (while somebody not drinking steers) is somehow drunk driving. What? It’s a classic blame the victim situation but people are clamoring to be on the Monte Carlo drivers side. Seriously? I feel like the people offering that sort of response are the cringe-worthy drivers who think I can’t tell they are texting while driving, despite their stuttering speeds, line-straddling and averted eyes. Perhaps a token act of not wanting to throw the first stone because if something that size and that speed were to be in their own path while playing Candy Crush on their phone they may have tipped it over too.
Basically what I got out of today’s posts were a call to get Pedal Pubs off the road, leading me to think maybe farm implements too and for sure the Amish who make it necessary to actually look through your windshield while in the driver seat. So few are willing to take responsibility for their own actions anymore and somehow feel redemption by not holding others accountable for their own poor decisions.
Two different evenings, with two different sets of friends who ventured out to enjoy each others company, pump some money into the economy and relax with a novel activity. One evening intentionally ruined by a group of grown men without the capacity to pull off a prank without being caught and another evening unexpectedly resulting in bodily harm, time out of work, panic and fear for the injured and those concerned about them.
I don’t like this new paradigm where people want to defend the “rights” of people to “express themselves” with squirt guns, it’s wasteful of time and resources and lacks any semblance of Minnesota Nice. I shake my head in sadness at the thought that rather than feel for the victims or acknowledge at least that what happened on a Minneapolis bridge last night was a tragic accident that some would rather place blame on those hurt and set low expectations for drivers because it somehow makes them feel better. Eyes on the road and your rear-view mirror too, it’s apparently a free for all out there and when you are on the receiving end of someone’s intended or unintended harm, it’s somehow going to be your fault because common sense is no longer common.