On day two of what had been called Stormpocalypse (a four-day forecast of heavy rain) by some around Portland, at least on Facebook, I started my day with enough optimism to forgo using my rain pants for my bike commute. The all night rain had dissipated, the morning was clear and the rain pants are bulky and unfashionable. I didn’t think to pack them for the ride home.
I watched the afternoon rain and knew I was in for a wet ride home. There was nothing I could do but grin and bear it. So I trudged onward with heavy, soaked pants. I kept my spirits up listening to the podcast Death, Sex and Money. I come back to this one and usually binge on multiple episodes. People talk about their lives, failures, trials and tribulations with a refreshing honesty. I thought I had problems, how about a woman who grew up with an abusive, alcoholic father. She went on to have a 40 year career on Sesame Street. It wasn’t exactly light subject matter to have swirling in my head but it did end up involving a kid’s show. On the other hand, there wasn’t anything from my work day that had me down. I was only dealing with the miserable commute. I was focused on getting home and drying off.
In my rain-stained, fogged up glasses, podcast blaring in my head, my pants wetter than if I wore them swimming, I had to navigate the bike/walking path going through Kenton Park. A woman seemed to be walking in the middle of the path. I was moving toward her and trying to figure out how I was going to get around her. As sad and soggy as I was slowing down was not a consideration. From what I could see, she seemed to be thinking I was going to run her over. She gave me a look of disgust and indignant rage. I could only think such a minor inconvenience wouldn’t have been an issue if she followed common sense rules for traffic patterns which at the very least favor walking/driving/biking on one side of the road or even the other. She might have side-stepped me or made a decision to move out of my way but neither of us could navigate this bike/pedestrian dance. I didn’t break my stride either, but the look she gave me annoyed me to my deepest core as I swerved around her.
As I rode on, I realized something needed to be said. Returning from my day working at a school, I realized there was one more lesson to teach. I thought quick and wondered if I needed to chase her down and get in her face or yell at her from where I had stopped my bike which was now about 100 yards away. I wanted her to consider that when it’s raining and nasty outside rain-soaked bike commuters need a break. I decided on my second choice and found myself yelling, “Hey lady, up yours!”
Pathetic. I know. I’m not even sure it felt good, especially since the lady didn’t turn around or appear to hear me. My improvised insult may have been the direct result of listening to a podcast about Sonia Manzano from Sesame Street which might have inspired me to keep it clean. Besides who really needs to be cussing in the park. I felt stupid, angry, aggressive, but at least gave myself credit for trying. A day of work followed by a watery slog home and a feeling that I received a lack of compassion from a fellow citizen created a need for me to let off some steam that could not even be heard in a downpour.
Sometimes you have to try to make your point even when it’s pointless.
Uncredited image jacked from the internet.