PATRICK MCVAY

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My Musings

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Creep

When I was a youngster, I was informed by random adults that unlike sticks and stones, names would never hurt me.

That turned out not to be the case then and still isn't today. I am somewhat easily wounded, psychologically and emotionally, by words. Mutter under your breath that I am an idiot or a thoughtless jerk and I'm sure to feel aggrieved deep down inside.

But a creep? I'm familiar with creeps, having met several during my still quite young life. Creepy people exude an aura that makes you cringe and want to slink away, backwards, keeping an eye on them lest they grab you from behind. They stand too close to you and touch you on the arm when speaking, even though you barely know them. Who the hell is this creep peeking through my bedroom window? That's the kind of thing you say when you meet a creep. I don't think I've ever been called a creep, until a few days ago.

The circumstances were very much not creepy. I was riding my bicycle to work in broad daylight along the Memorial Drive bike path in Cambridge, MA, doing what we bikers are urged to do by dinging my bell before passing people ambling along mindlessly with ear buds stuffed into their heads. These people are not barred from their careless saunter on the bike path, but they often have no clue that they are on an actual bike path, not a sidewalk, and are startled when you pass them. They jump and they yell at you. "Give me a warning, idiot!" they holler. Of course, you did that, but the earbuds pouring a stream of Taylor Swift into their heads drowned out your bicycle bell.

As I was riding along the other day (pretty slowly – the bike path was packed given the beautiful weather) I encountered a couple crossing Memorial drive coming toward the bike path. Most people are careful when crossing car traffic but have no awareness of bike paths and lanes and step into them blindly. So, I dinged my bell to alert them that they were encountering a bike lane. Upon doing so, a man who was crossing in the opposite direction – away from me – bellowed, "Go to hell, creep!" He continued: "And slow down!" This person had no idea how fast I was going (not very) because before he started to cross Memorial Drive his back was turned to me. He may just have been a rare person ambling sans earbuds and was startled by my bell, which is loud in order to penetrate the sound of Taylor Swift. His rant continued as I kept riding. I was a block and a half away and he had worked himself into a froth, though I don't know exactly what he was saying. Maybe that I was a creep.

Full disclosure, he may have called me a freak, not a creep. Given that I'm neither creepy nor freaky, it really doesn't matter. Either way, this time I wasn't hurt. 

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