The blinky has been deployed! On my walk over to The Good Earth this morning for a bagel I walked up on a man walking his bicycle on the sidewalk on 7th Street. He turned to me when he heard me and asked if the sidewalk was a ‘no bike’ zone. Assuming that if you’re walking your bike on the sidewalk you’re o.k., I told him he was fine (If I was wrong I was willing to take the hit for him). I had noticed that he didn’t have a rear blinking red light and, even though it was quite light out already, I just had a feeling that he had already been on the road for a bit meaning he would have started before sunrise.
The moment of truth came for me. Would I build up the courage to offer him the light? I almost hopped out into the street to cross over to my awaiting bagel. Then he asked another question: “Is this the way to the bus stop?” “yes” I said, followed by “hey, do you have a rear flashing light for that bike?” “No, just reflectors” he responded. “Would you like one? I have one in my car and it would help drivers see you.” He was excited.
I never caught his name, but he followed me to my car and explained that he had just moved into town from Muskegon because he thought he’d have a better chance of finding a job in Holland. He was on his way to the bus stop to catch a ride to one of the employment agencies. Still a bit turned around in Holland, he liked to ride his bike instead of driving a car or ride the bus while he explored. Oh, and his niece had a car just like mine, which he thought was really cool.
For a brief moment I was transported into this man’s life. I was seeing an outlook on life as he saw it. I envisioned finding a place to live an hour south of home because where I was from there was no work. I experienced being pulled away from familiarity and years of memories of a life made in Muskegon. I pictured finding my way around a new town to catch a bus, hoping to get a handle on the routes in order to hop on the one that would bring me one step closer to finding work. As I was transporting back into my own reality, I was reminded that you make it work with what you have been given; and to be thankful for it.
I showed my new friend how to switch between the various lighting options and then attached the light to his seat post. I pointed him down 6th street where he could ride his bike with relative safety and how to make a quick right at the end to hit the bus station (I think in my inexperience I actually gave him directions short of the station). He gave me heartfelt thanks and rode off with what I want to believe was added vigor for making something happen today. It made me think of this: Never be afraid of changing another person’s outlook on life, but be warned, it just might change yours.