Just a bike ride?

Oddly enough, as I was out for my ride this a.m. I came to think that God was probably changing me, more than I was out changing the world. Instead of focusing on what i do glorifying God (I mean, of course, it should) I felt that God was saying to me that he wants to change me, too, when I have an encounter with other people, or with a challenging bike ride or situation – even a beautiful view.

Today, I think that happened to me as I was heading back home, and I saw a man in an orange vest riding a Segway, only it was called NOTION and had an extra wheel up front. I sailed past him as he was making stops along the street and looking inside people’s yard waste cans (today is curbside pickup). I yelled hello and he grunted back, not unfriendly.
After stopping at th library to engage with the man behind the desk (whom I had seen riding a bike on his way to work earlier) (I had to check out a book that was on hold called “Why Schools?” but I’ll save that for another time, although I am sure it relates) I came back outside and as I rode on down the street the same man in a vest zoomed toward me on his Mall Cop toy.
“You’ve got noisy brakes,” he said (astutely). My brakes do sound, when dry, as if a train is coming past – like a cross between an amtrak whistle and tea kettle on the boil. Clearly, the man needed to talk. He remarked that we had similar suspension on our respective vehicles (no shock absorbers), but that while it meant hurt feet for him, it must mean a pain in the A__ for a bike rider like me.
I acknowledged but did not admit defeat – actually I have a well-chosen bike seat and bike pants which are built for comfort. [side note: my friends in high school used to say I was built for comfort, not for speed; other days they would attest, with the same good humor, “you aren’t fat; you’re just pleasantly plump” – friends are such a comfort!]
Making a long story short, I tell you that he was inspecting the yard waste bins for the city, and issuing citations (he’d given three so far) for those who abuse the brown cans. “People in the Avenues are in compliance. Do you realize that by 2015 we are supposed to reduce our landfill usage by 50%? We’ve already cut back 32%”
“Wow,” I responded (he was clearly proud of these numbers; I too want to believe I am creating a better world, one compost pail full at a time.

In our house, we have a white metal pail which collects egg shells, bird seed hulls, vegetable odds and ends, just about anything biodegradable.
I wondered if I was going to get a citation when he came to my house.
“Ahm…we put lots of stuff in there” –
He said, “Oh, it can’t be as bad as West Valley. You don’t know how many violations I get out there.”
“Well, we put almost everything in there except meat.”
“A lot of people don’t know you can put meat scraps in there.”
“Yeah,” I said, “but in the summer it gets pretty hot, and neither the bin nor the pail smells good when there’s rotten meat in them.”
“I’ll tell you – you don’t know how many lids I lift every day! The smell just about knocks me off my segway.” (I can’t remember what he called his scooter)
After a discussion of the necessity of ecology, we wished each other well, and agreed it was nice to be able to be outdoors on a day like this. He indicated that he wasn’t making that much money at it, but i encouraged him by noting that it was better than being stuck indoors (what I didn’t say was “on a day like today” – imagine having to be out there when it’s a hundred! Yeesh!)

Anyway, as I rode on my merry way, he demonstrated how his own horn was mild compared to mine (my brakes).

Now, I don’t know what really happened in that exchange, I only know that a total stranger came up to me in an orange vest, helped me not get a citation, shared a brief moment of empathy, and then passed along out of my life (forever?). Are we both changed? What is God doing?

When I have time for this kind of thinking, you KNOW summer has come!

Now, what are YOU all thinking about? i realized as I was riding that I had an unstated agenda in my earlier letter – to get you engaged in conversation. Any takers?

Mr H


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