Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Common courtesy

On my ride home last night a guy in a pick-up pulled up beside me while I was waiting for a light and offered me a ride home. In the year and a half that I've been commuting, that is the first time that anyone has offered to help or give me a ride. I should mention that guys in the office will offer me a ride home in bad weather (and I've accepted on several occasions), but this was the first time a stranger offered me a ride. I thanked him, but refused the ride.

Last night I had about a 20 mph tailwind for my entire commute. I NEVER feel that good on a bike ride. Of course the driver didn't know that I had a tailwind, he just knew that it was 19 degrees and there was a cold wind. I appreciated the offer, but it made me think. I have ridden that route a lot in the last couple of years. I have spent a considerable amount of time on the side of that road fixing flat tires. One time I had three flat tires in about 5 minutes and then had to walk 4-5 miles home. I've spent time soaked from the rain, only to have cars buzz me and try to hit the puddle next to me. I've had cars cut me off so that I hit the brakes and end up jumping over the handlebars of the bike to avoid being hit. Without fail, the car had left before I am done picking my bike up out of the road. 99% of the time, I enjoy my commute and wouldn't take a ride if you offered me one. On the rare occasions that I would appreciate a ride, it seems as if the drivers are more aggressive (that could just be my perspective).

After I turned down the ride, I wondered if I had done the right thing. He was trying to be nice and it could have given me a chance to talk to him... about not driving because it destroys the environment. Maybe it's better that I didn't get a ride. It also made me review the times that I have been driving and pass someone who was on the side of the road. How often do I stop? --- Not often. Usually because the car is full whenever I'm in it, but that doesn't mean I couldn't offer assistance. When I'm on my bike, I will always offer assistance to stranded motorists. I thin it's sort of odd because I don't carry a cell phone and i only have enough tools to fix a bike, but still I offer. The only person to ever accept my offer to help was a lady stranded next to her motor home who asked me to pray for her. I can do that.

I began to wonder if courtesy is less common than it used to be. I don't know how it used to be, but I don't think that it is all that common now. On the other hand, I got a flat tire (actually it was Jim's flat tire) going through Pocatello Idaho and in the few minutes it took to change the tire, three people had offered to loan us a cell phone or give us a ride. A few miles later a guy in a pick-up truck threw a beer bottle at me out of his window. I know there are good people out there and I know that there are jerks. It just seems that for everyday people courtesy has become less common. I think we can place some blame on busy schedules and the fear of psychos faking a mechanical problem and just waiting for someone to stop. I think this highlights why we need to simplify our lives. We shouldn't ever be too busy to help someone and we shouldn't withhold help out of fear. Not that the fear is unwarranted, but it seems that if you let fear guide your life, you aren't really living. I would much rather die helping someone than to live knowing that I didn't help anyone.

So to the guy who offered me a ride (because I'm sure he hangs out on anti-car blogs in his free time), thanks. I appreciate it, even though I refused. (I also appreciate those who shovel my walks for me even though I would really like to do it myself).

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