I’ve talked about running on this site – how it is my church, it is the thing that pulls me together on the weekend. I’ve always thought it would be amazing to share it with Roan, when he gets old enough and then BAM he suddenly became old enough. Sunday I convinced him (ok, absolutely bribed him) to ride his bike with me as I ran across the Brooklyn Bridge and back. We had done a short rehearsal of this once before, as he rode alongside me on the waterfront, but that was a scant two miles, compared to over double that. I was confident he could do it though, as that outing hadn’t even flushed him and had in fact prompted him to tell me that I’m not “exactly slow”. Heh. High praise, that. Punk.
Sunday was a perfect day. Gorgeous weather, and nothing on our schedule. We started out and talked as I tried to keep up with him. I chose a path that would take us a little longer to get to the bridge but was dedicated to bike and foot traffic only. Once we got to the bridge though, I knew we were a bit screwed.
Apparently the National MS Society had planned a walk to raise awareness on this exact Sunday. Its path included going over the Brooklyn Bridge. Believe me, I’m all for fundraising and walking and running and biking events for good causes. Unfortunately though, when a huge gathering of people try to cross the Brooklyn Bridge at once, it is a huge cluster…eh…cluster. But we were there, and they were there, and it was up to all of us good people to share this bridge and make the best of it.
There has long been a war between pedestrians and bicyclists on the Brooklyn Bridge. As a Fat Cyclist’s sister, I have always obeyed, with what borders on religious reverence, the painted line that separates the two. When I’m running, I don’t veer into the bike lane unless I need to pass a gawking tourist and even then I giddy-up out of the bicycle lane ASAP. With Roan on a bicycle, I finally had a pass to be in the lane, but it was full of walkers. Bugger.
Their good cause was not lost on me, neither was the fact that they had every right to be there. So Roan and I weaved in and out of the crowd, with me leading the way with “Excuse me, coming through” and Roan sticking close. I finally came across the group of people that you just don’t want to come across. The ones who will not move, not give others three seconds of their time to step aside. I asked them a few times to let us pass, and then pointed out that they were actually in a bike lane. And here’s a kid on a bike. Wanna let him through?
And then of course, one big-mouthed slow-walking dude decided to step up to a mom and her son. This man apparently needed to show his fellow friends that regardless of his taking part in a great and worthwhile event, he could pull his terrible personality out and flash it around for all to see. He berated me for trying to get through, and spoke down to me in such a way that his aggression rattled my son.
As a former badass, I couldn’t help myself. I stepped up to him and told him, yeh, I have eyes and can see what’s going on. I’m happy to share my bridge with him and am just trying to get my kid through so MOVE. I did match his aggression, but I did keep moving, not wanting to start a fist fight with an MS Walker on the sabbath in front of my son. But this guy. THIS GUY. He needed to show how awesomely dominant he was so he kept yelling insults, kept embarrassing his friends (I hope), and I just kept my hand on Roan’s back, guiding him through. But before I was out of his life for good, I turned around, gave him a hand gesture my mom would ground me for, mouthed GFY (which does not mean “Good For You”), and in my best teaching life-lesson voice told my son in front of Big Mouth’s friends, “Some guys are just born assholes.” Roan’s face went from anxious to mischievous as he laughed at me swearing in front of him. Score.
Ok. Not the most even-handed or mature or even best approach ever. But guess what? I’m not sorry. Had Roan not been there, I probably wouldn’t have reacted in that same way. But I felt that this guy was not only being a bully to me, he was doing it to my son. I could not bear the idea of letting that slide, because I would never want my Roan to believe it’s ok for people to act like that. Still, there are probably ways that would have been better to handle this guy, including just ignoring him.
But at the end of it? Roan was proud of me. In his re-telling to his Dad, I was a hero and I was strong. His mom was fierce and stood up for him. And the bike ride was a blast, and he wants to do it again. So maybe just maybe – me acting the fool was an ok thing. I’m still not sure.
What do you think?