I have a difficult time passing people and ignoring them. Walking, hiking, biking, even driving my car. I say “hi”, “hello”, I nod, I wave. I smile and I wish people a good day.
Sometimes this leaves me feeling snubbed. Ignored. But mostly, well rewarded.
Twice today, while on a bike ride, I had interactions that were a little bit different than normal.
I passed one man who was out walking on the bike trail and said “good morning” to him as I smiled and nodded. I have never, ever, been given such a hateful look. I actually sat up a little on my bike when I saw his eyes – they were so intensely angry. And I was so surprised at what those eyes were emoting.
I only had about a mile to go before I turned around and was heading back in the other direction. I kept wondering what in the world I could have said in my “good morning” that angered him so much. Or what was he going through, that I interrupted, and he couldn’t remove himself from as I spoke to him.
I have to admit, I was a little saddened by whatever it was. And I wished I could sometimes just go by without speaking or acknowledging everyone.
As I was heading back, the man was still walking. I never avoid talking or acknowledging someone on purpose. But I didn’t want to evoke anything else out of him. I reached for my water bottle, which miraculously was stuck. That never happens. But suddenly it was jammed in too tightly and I couldn’t get the cage holding it to let go. I was focusing on the road in front of me while trying to navigate the bottle out, which gave me an opportunity to not purposefully ignore him. But I still saw him, peripherally. He nearly stopped as I approached. He kind of raised his hand. He kind of smiled. The bottle came out, I sat up a little and right as I pulled abreast of him he gave me a big smile and another wave. I smiled and said ‘hello’ as I passed.
That felt better.
I rode another six miles or so. And ahead, on the trail, I can see someone sitting. A lot of people forget or ignore or don’t care that a bicycle trail is a moving roadway. Whether someone is riding a bike, running, roller skating, skate boarding, or whatever they are doing to move, it is a moving space. Often I come across bikers/runners/whoevers just standing in the middle of the trail. Oblivious to the danger they put everyone in by just standing there. I try to stay very vigilant and respectful. Sometimes people may be stopped for emergency reasons (and most times they are not).
As I approached I saw the man appeared to be older. Kind of dirty in appearance. I ride with one ear bud in for music. One ear with nothing, for safety. I pulled the one ear bud out and slowed down in case I had to stop. He looked up at me. I said “are you okay?” I was going very slow but had not stopped. He waved me on and said “yes, I’m fine”. He was sitting on the edge of the trail. A creek was running below us.
Okay. He did not seem in distress. Maybe he was resting and enjoying the sounds of the creek.
I rode a few more miles, turned around, and headed back again. The storm clouds were rolling in and I wanted to beat the storm.
As I approached the area where the man had been sitting, I saw he had not moved, but he was looking around. As I approached he looked at me and I smiled. He said something as I rode past but I wasn’t sure what it was. So I stopped my bike, turned around and walked back to him. He said “ma’am”. I said “yes, I’m sorry I didn’t hear you”.
He said “do you have a few dollars so I can get something to eat”. I knew I didn’t have a “few dollars” because I had shoved a five dollar bill in my bike bag when I left because I don’t like to be without a little cash when on my bike.
I said “well, I don’t have a few dollars. All I have is five dollars”. I opened my bag to pull it out, and out came two five dollar bills. Which surprised me because I knew I had only put one in there. I said “well, I have two five dollar bills. I’ll give you one and I’ll keep one just in case.”. I pulled the money out to hand it to him and said “what’s your name?” He said “I’m Dave”. I said “I’m Colleen, I hope this helps.” He said he hoped to eat before it rained. I told him I hoped to get home before it rained. He thanked me. I wished him a good day.
I got home before it stormed.