I had an interesting experience during my morning run. It’s not earth shattering, and really only stands out because it shouldn’t even be noticeable. I got to sleep in until 6:00 this morning before my run, so it was almost light as I headed out the door. It’s amazing how much of a difference a few degrees and some sunlight make in the comfort level, but this morning’s run was much more pleasant than yesterday’s ride.
I came out of the neighborhood and turned left onto my route. The road has sidewalks, and is often pretty crowded with walkers, runners, and cyclists, even early in the morning. I’ve gotten used to stepping into the street to avoid the oncoming “traffic”, whether wheeled or on foot. Not a big deal, unless there are cars on the road or there’s a storm drain, etc, just waiting to twist my ankle. I’m often surprised at how unyielding many of my fellow runners and walkers are about their space on the sidewalk, especially when in groups. I know that I’m going to need to move out of the way, because they probably won’t.
So on this morning’s run, I approached a broad curve in the road… One of those curves where you can see the far side of it, but it’s blind in close. In the distance, I saw a guy on a bike, on the sidewalk. Normally the cyclists stick to the street, but this rider wasn’t the spandex wearing, $5000 road bike type. I’ve seen him before on morning outings… I’m guessing he’s riding to get somewhere, not for enjoyment or exercise. I just got a glimpse of him as he entered the blind part of the curve. With traffic on the road, I had nowhere to go. I ran through a couple of options in my head as I waited to come face to face with him around the bend. But then, nothing.
As I came through the curve, there was the rider… Off to the side, straddling his bike, waiting patiently for me to pass by. As I did, he graced me with a Southern, “mornin'” (short for good morning, how are you, for those north of the Mason Dixon line). I’d generated so many confrontational scenarios in my head in the previous 30 seconds or so, I was momentarily speechless (a condition my wife and kids would pay good money to witness). Finally, I gave him the flick of the wrist that passes for a wave when to runners pass and tossed back a “mornin” of my own, and went on my way.
Such a little thing, but it changed the way I looked at the morning. Instead of my day starting off with a rude encounter, I got to build on an example of simple kindness, someone choosing to put another ahead of themselves. Given the fact that I will pass through three major airports today and check into a hotel tonight, I’m sure the number of rude encounters I experience will far outweigh the positive one from this morning. But I did have one. And that, in itself, made getting up at 6 to run worth even more.