I’m in a shitty place tonight. It’s because of what I saw today, what I experienced. And fuck. I was on the easy end of it.
Some of you know that I ride a bicycle. Many miles. Long distance. Sometimes bikes break. There’s this sort of code. We take care of our own. Provide assistance. Ask if you need help. I’ve walked many miles, even had my feet bleed, to get home because the bike was broken. Called Uber once. Hoped the bike would fit in the car. We take care of our own.
Today I trained in my living room. It was too windy for what I do to get out in open spaces. For others it’s good, but not for how I ride. When I train near my couch I watch a movie, a documentary, whatever, and observe the world pass by outside my window. Hence my pain. I had no idea what I was about to see. To experience.
I’ve got a weird tree across the street. I’ve never figured out what it is in all these thirty odd years I’ve lived here. It’s stunted, messed up. Looks like an oak. There might have been apples a while ago. Maybe it was two trees. I have no idea. Two people on bikes stopped in front of it. That they appeared to be light skinned Black people matters to this. I’ll say why soon. What transpired is the source of my pain. First I noticed they were looking at that tree. I was thinking that I don’t get it either. It’s a fucked up tree. Then I saw him looking at his bike, his tire. And it was time for my break to stretch. So…..
I opened the door, went out, asked if they needed help. I have to admit this. Odd looking guy, covered in sweat, in cycling clothes is standing there. Regardless. I could see it, massive tension. Were they thinking they were the next Ahmaud Arbery? I don’t know. I asked if they needed help. He said it was a new bike, he was OK, the bike shop changed the tires and he thought something was rubbing. Then I said “the reason I came out is because I have tools to fix just about anything on a bike and I wondered if you needed them”. Laughing, relief, thank yous. I still have trouble describing the level of relief that I saw.
There is something wrong when people are afraid when someone walks out to offer help.
No one. NO ONE should live with the stress they felt. I’ve never seen them before. They could live a few houses away. In Ohio or whatever. It doesn’t matter. All I could see was that two people, two Black people, were in terror because a white man walked out his door and asked them if they needed help.
Tell me I’m wrong. It wasn’t fear. You weren’t there. I know what I saw.
No one should feel that.
Something is wrong here.