Yesterday I went for a walk at the end of the day, and covered some ground at my favorite local park, Mount Tabor. As I was coming down from the summit, walking off the side of East Tabor Drive, some bikers came up behind me and passed, bumping me a bit. Not bad, just a jostle, but startling nonetheless.
They said something about trying to warn me but I was wearing headphones (true) and as they passed I yelled at their backs that they should have been in road, not on the narrow dirt path where I was walking intentionally to avoid being hit by bikes or cars.
Then it got weird. They turned around and came back.
Now, to look at them, most people wouldn’t think they were a threat. A man and a woman, older, probably in their fifties, clearly fit. I’m 6’1”, 220 pounds, and can probably come off as intimidating to many folks. Still, I was unnerved by their return. Genuine threats can come in benign packages, after all. The fact that they started in on how they were riding on off-road tires and how it was my fault for wearing headphones didn’t change the fact that I was kinda freaked by the situation. So I started yelling and then they started yelling, and there was a lot of fuck yous going back and forth. And then they rode off.
It was … surreal.
My plan had been to walk for a while yet, but suddenly I just wanted to go home. I was worried they’d come back, these two middle-aged bicyclists in their Spandex, riding on off-road tires. Admittedly I was in a bit of a mood already. We’ll be moving soon, and I know I will miss Mount Tabor — even though my new home has lots of wonderful things I will get to discover. I was probably more emotional than usual, and that, coupled with being startled, may have contributed to how quickly I escalated my part of the interaction. I went off, but I wish I hadn’t.
Sure, they were asses. Even with their tires, they could have moved onto the road for a short distance to avoid the pedestrian ahead of them. But they didn’t, and they presented that choice as my fault just because I was listening to some music while I walked.
All that said, in the end, I regret my part in it. I overreacted, behaved badly, and I wish I hadn’t. If I saw these two bikers right now, I would apologize. I wish it hadn’t happened, or that I had handled myself better.
Sometimes … oy, life.