Harley guys who rev their engines loud enough to injure bystanders … yep, they’re jerks.

Recently, when I was having a hamburger at an outdoor restaurant, two guys started up their Harley-Davidson motorcycles, parked maybe 25 feet from me. Naturally, being Harley guys, these were rebels – lone wolves, guys who do it Their Way, guys who do not follow the crowd. You could tell because they were wearing the same jeans, jackets, boots, bandannas, sunglasses, belt buckles, tattoos and (presumably) underwear worn by roughly 28 million other lone-wolf Harley guys.

And, of course, once they got their engines started, they had to spend the equivalent of two college semesters just sitting there, revving their engines, which were so ear-bleedingly loud that I thought my hamburger was going to leap from my plate and skitter, terrified, back into the kitchen. I believe many Harley guys spend more time revving their engines than actually driving anywhere; I sometimes wonder why they bother to have wheels on their motorcycles.

Perhaps you, too, have experienced an assault of Harley-revving; and perhaps you have asked yourself: Why do these people DO this? What possible reason could they have for causing so much discomfort to those around them? As it happens, there IS a reason, and it is an excellent one: They’re jerks.

I’m not saying that ALL Harley guys – some of my friends are Harley guys – engage in this obnoxious behavior. I’m just saying that the ones who DO engage in it are jerks. And I am not afraid to tell them so, even if they are large and hairy and potentially violent. I am not afraid to say: “OK, Mr. Loud Harley Guy, you got a problem with me calling you a jerk? You want to DO something about it? You want to express your disagreement by tapping out lengthy Morse Code sentences on my skull with a tire iron? Then why don’t you – if you have the guts – come see me PERSONALLY at my place of employment, located at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, D.C.? Come on if you dare, fat boy! Ride right into the lobby!”

And let me also say, while I’m at it, that I’m sick of you people who park in spaces reserved for the handicapped, even though you are not, personally, handicapped. You know who you are. Many of you even have those little rearview-mirror handicapped signs, which you got from a friend or relative, or which you once needed because of some temporary medical condition that has long since been cleared up.

One of my hobbies is to watch when cars pull into handicapped parking spots, and see who gets out. Very often, in my experience, these people appear to be totally unhandicapped: No wheelchair, no crutches, not even a trace of a limp. I realize that some of these people have problems, such as heart conditions, that are not visible. But some of them, to judge by the sprightliness of their walks, are off to compete in the decathlon. Their only handicap is: They’re jerks.

What we need in this country – I would pay extra income tax for this – is an elite corps of Handicapped Parker On-Site Medical Examination SWAT Teams. These teams would prowl the streets, wearing rubber gloves and armed with X-ray machines, CT scanners, scalpels, drills, saws and harpoon-sized hypodermic needles.

When a team spotted a handicapped-zone parker who could not immediately prove that he or she was handicapped, that person would immediately undergo a severely thorough on-the-street physical examination conducted by burly personnel who have attended medical school for a maximum of four hours including lunch (“Hey Norm! Which ones are the kidneys again?”). These examinations would involve full frontal nudity and the removal of enough blood, organ and tissue samples to form a complete new human; also, if the SWAT team found a Harley guy revving his engine in a handicapped-parking zone, it would employ the 250-foot intestinal probe nicknamed “Big Bertha.” The idea would be that if you weren’t qualified to park in a handicapped zone BEFORE the physical examination, you definitely would be AFTER.

And let’s talk about you people who always send your food back in restaurants. (I KNOW this has nothing to do with handicapped parking; I can’t stop myself.) I mean, sure, if the food is truly BAD, if it has RODENTS running around on it, OK, send it back; but what about you people who ALWAYS send your food back, thereby turning EVERY SINGLE MEAL into an exercise in consumer whining?

I’m sorry! You’re jerks! Especially if, when the bill comes, you also ALWAYS insist – even if everybody ordered basically the same thing – on figuring out your EXACT share (“Well, I had the Diet Sprite, which is 10 cents less than the iced tea. …”); and then you decide that a 5 percent tip is adequate, thereby forcing your friends, who are embarrassed, to put in more money.

Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you. Put your ear right down to the page: YOUR FRIENDS HATE IT WHEN YOU STIFF THE WAITER. IF THE SERVICE IS OK, YOU SHOULD TIP 15 PERCENT. IF YOU DON’T WANT TO TIP, THEN DON’T EAT AT RESTAURANTS.

Also, you should never, ever, no matter what, butt in front of people waiting in line without asking their permission. Also, if, when you talk to people, they keep backing away from you, it’s because you’re TOO CLOSE, all right? SO DON’T KEEP ADVANCING ON THEM LIKE A HUMAN GLACIER.

Thank you, and I apologize for using so many capital letters. I can be a real jerk about that.

This classic Dave Barry column was originally published Sept. 29, 1996.

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