Dear PoPville – Check Out This Letter

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Dear PoPville,

My boyfriend and I biked home to my place Saturday night around 10 pm. We both had headlights and tail lights on our bicycles. An older lady in a white sedan and a younger lady in the passenger seat pulled up in front of m yhouse (in the bike lane no less) and asked, “Ma’am, can I have a word with you?”

I asked her what the problem was, and she told me she almost hit me because I had no front light. I pointed to my headlight which was still on, and told her I DO have a front light. She repeated that I needed to get a front light because she couldn’t see me, and only saw me at the last instant because of the gentleman’s light. My boyfriend and I both said, “I/she have/has a light” and pointed to the light on my bike, which was still on and blinking, because we had literally just gotten to my front door. She responded, “Well, you need to get a light, because you didn’t have one.”

Truly bizzare. After we told her again that I have a light, she again said I needed to get a light because she couldn’t see me. So I said, “Well, I don’t know what to tell ya; maybe get some glasses?” We then just went inside.

By 9:30 am, we found this letter (attached) taped to our front door. She had apparently rooted through my mail to find first names (and didn’t find mine, by the way), went home to type up this letter, and came BACK to post it on my door.

144 Comment

  • um. wow. is this for real??

  • Wow, that is some crah-zay stuff in there. If I were you I would find it hard to not get upset, but really, I guess you just have to laugh at it? Or just feel bad for this woman who is clearly mentally unstable?

  • Typical liberal attitude – assumes that anyone who disagrees with them on ANYTHING is the opposite politically! Most Republicnans and conservatives I’ve met are much more polite than the letter writer.

    • The irony was intentional in your comment, right?

      • Not at all. Read the Deomcratic Underground forums some time. Anytime someone posts a story about something simple, like being cut off in traffic, they assume the other driver was a “teabagger” or “freeper.”

        • Got it. Makes sense. And you’re not doing that at all.

        • You’ve been in Washington (as opposed to DC) for far too long bro

        • It isn’t liberalism that does that. When someone cuts me off, I call them a jerkoff. If jerkoff happens to be synonymous with a republican-esque word, so be it.

        • Um, have you read the comment forums on any Reason or Cato article lately? Sadly, I did read the comments from the Reason hit-job on CaBi. What I learned:

          Government Programs = Liberal = Socialist = Immigrants/non-white people on welfare = Threats to Freedom = Clear and Present Danger

          I think that about sums it up in terms of the fanatics on the right. The fanatics on the left aren’t any better. So for all us centrists somewhere in the middle, can we just all agree that the extremes of either party should be marginalized?

  • You have to give the crazy lady points for creativity. She called you fat and dumb numerous ways.

    This just proves there are hostile, crazy, strange, outlandish people in all areas of the city. If this had happened in Shaw, everyone would be talking about how the “old residents resent new white people”. In reality, there’s just a bunch of crazy people in this world and this is the type of crap crazy people do.

    The one thing I just dont understand, if your light was on, why did she insist it was not?

  • Combination of psychosis and projecting own problems on others. If there was any way of finding out who this was, I’d call the cops. That is effing scary, and this person needs to find out it is not okay to do this- and by this, I mean find out names and write incredibly insulting, vaguely threatening anonymous letters.

    • This. Clearly the driver/writer is blind and is in denial, so was totally freaked out when called out on it. And in this letter she displays all the qualities she attributes to the biker. Totally projecting. So a complete disconnect from reality. Totally scary.

  • Did she also tell you to “get the Gdamn taps off the phone!”?

  • Ha ha. Send it to

    On a side note, this lady seems very psycho. I could see this one exchange making her seethe so badly that she will wait for the perps in the dark of night, behind the bushes….waiting….biding her time. 🙂

  • Don’t argue with crazy people. It will only cause others to question your sanity. But calling the cops if she ever returns is a good idea.

    • This is the advice I’d give. Laugh it off, and save the letter in case you need to present it as evidence later (it will also make for a good story at dinner parties). There’s no much you can do to convince an insane person that they’re insane.

  • So why didn’t you have your light on?

    • Serious question. Is it actually illegal to ride without a light after dark? I know it’s it’s not wise, but is that the law?

      • Yes. Maryland, Virginia and DC all require a bicycle riding after dark to be equipped with a headlight. If I’m not mistaken, it is the law in every U.S. state.

        FWIW, in regards to cycling safety at night, having a headlight is SOOO SOOO important. Many falsely believe a taillight is more important, but about 95% of nighttime collisions are better defended by a headlight than a taillight. The overwhelming majority of collisions come from vehicles that are in front of you prior to impact.

      • Riding with lights is arguably more important than riding with a helmet. Denmark, happiest and bikiest place on earth, is very, very serious about enforcing light laws.

  • It in no way excuses her letter, but it sounds like you were less than pleasant yourself.

    Her: Ma’am, can I have a word with you?
    You: What’s the problem?

    • “It in no way excuses her letter…”

      Just leave it at that. We can plainly see that the letter is out of line. We do NOT know how the OP acted.

    • The OP didn’t quote exactly what was said. She wrote, “I asked her what the problem was…” There is a big difference between, “Sure, what seems to be the problem?” and, “Why, what’s your problem?”

    • Jesus Christ. It’s remarks like this that turn comments sections into the cesspools of the internet.

  • Get a really powerful, really bright headlight fro your bike, and only turn it on when you ride towards her! 🙂

  • janie4

    Playing devil’s advocate on whether the light was on, perhaps it’s a matter of the light not being bright enough or flickering? It may be that your boyfriend’s light is stronger, and therefore she saw it better.

    The rest of it, the letter, the obsession with politics, the idea that your weight reflects the fact that you’re a bad person – that’s weird.

    • +1.

      The letter-writer is obviously crazy and has issues, and if I were the OP, I’d report the incident to the police.

      Nonetheless, I wonder if there was maybe just a smidgeon of truth to the crazy woman’s initial complaint. Maybe the bicycle light was off kilter and wasn’t pointing straight ahead??

      • it was definitely on and straight. as i was going the right way on a one-way street, and she was hyperfocused on the front light, she had to be turning ONTO Warder. I was obeying traffic signals, so she was going for a right on red (legal, I know). Just sayin’: there are streetlights there. I had a significant amount of white on, plus reflectors on my wheels. My bf was following right behind me, with presumably, his light on me the whole time. How she missed me until she saw me illuminated by HIS light is beyond me.

        And after I pointed to the light on my bike and told her hey, here’s my light, which was on, she STILL said I needed to get a front light. So…um. I have to agree with the folks who said some people just cannot admit being wrong.

        I really think she does need glasses, or shouldn’t drive at night (or at all). Especially if she can’t grasp reality.

  • Crazy bitch.

    Civil she wasn’t, pass aggressive (and crazy) she was.

    In all seriousness I would watch out for her because you are on her “list” and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she confronts you on some imagined slight at some point. Keep that letter and document everything in case she calls the cops on you or you have to call them on her.

  • I was about to ask if her light was on. Also remember we are only getting one side of the story. Clearly, the OP said or did something to set this lady off to this extent.

    • Sure, “clearly” the OP did something to prompt the letter, and clearly the Kochs have some relevance to the episode.

    • gotryit

      “Clearly, the OP said or did something to set this lady off to this extent.”

      How do we know that?

    • I bet Crazy Lady’s day job is meter maid.

    • I’m afraid you’re not clear about the definition of clearly.

    • Oh, trust me, I’ve set off plenty of people this badly (I have some passive-aggressive emails and text messages, but mostly they just scream and swear at me) by basically just existing. They are crazy, and your existence in their bubble is a personal insult.

      It’s really easy to become a target of the crazy while biking or walking in parts of DC where a certain “class” of citizen spends at least 1/3 of their life behind the wheel of a car. If they almost hurt their precious Beemer/Range Rover, it’s obviously your fault…even if the incident was precipitated by them running straight into you in broad daylight while you were wearing a neon, flashing jump suit inside of a marked crosswalk with a signal while blowing an air horn to announce your presence.

    • novadancer

      clearly… just like the meter maid did. oh wait… I must be a troll 😉

  • The OP “will always be miserable”…..


  • Sad… Cleary a little crazy and dangerous.

    Maybe she really couldn’t see you or just didn’t look. You know old folks lie and believe their lies to the end – not to mention can’t see well to begin with.

    Maybe she is just a little too old to be out that late, maybe she is the danger to all of us. What about those crossing the street – could she see them?

    Then again, you were doomed from the beginning. You are one of those “Evil Gentrifiers” trying to live life and be a good neighbor – by use of the bike at very least.

    It’s like no one but these old folks, still lingering, ever lived in DC before them.

    I often wonder what the “original” residents of our neighborhood (back in the 1916’s and so on) thought about the slide into chaos and sadness took hold of their neighborhood decades ago. What were those “new” residents called then?

    Now the blame goes to the young one who are saving, restoring, and respecting what was once great and will be again… only because others can’t.


  • Anon X,

    You’re incredibly biased and simply shout down anyone who makes a point different than your own…

    You do this on every board, why are you so unhappy and contrarian?

    • Stop pestering me with non sequiturs and following me around the internets. I was neither contrarian nor biased. I just really want more information in order to explore this incident properly.

    • I don’t agree with Anon X all of the time, but the vast majority of his postings have show the use of critical thinking and reflection. Maybe you interpret that as “shouting down” because you can’t come up with a suitable counter argument.

      • Regardless of who is saying it, and with no comment regarding this particular exchange, but

        “the use of critical thinking and reflection” inevitably equals “I agree with him enough that he must be smart.”

  • gotryit

    Hilarious. Thanks for posting this… made my day. I hope you never encounter her again.

  • That’s truly hilarious.

    And why don’t you get a light?

  • springroadintoaction

    “You are retaining he is not!!!”

    What in the sandhill does that even mean?

    • Fat. It means fat.

    • well, it goes to my very salient question from above that was deleted for some baffling reason. Is the woman to whom the letter was addressed, in fact, overweight (and rude)? Not saying it’s a nice thing to say, but if she’s actually skinny, it means this lady is even crazier. This is critical information.

  • So her response to perceived rudeness, classlessness, and vitriol, is to be rude, classless, and vitriolic? The lady doth protest too much.

  • That letter is so awesome.

    I bet she really couldn’t see you even with your light on.

  • I will say one thing in defense of Crazy Lady, though – I also believe that the Koch brothers are evil, and are at least partially responsible for most of the bad things in this world. Not sure why she tarred the OP with that brush, but I don’t disagree with the sentiment.

    • “Most of the bad things in the world.”

      Wow, then you are also crazy.

      • Look, everyone, it’s Literal Man! his super power – showing off his lack of a sense of humor for all the world to see.

        Seriously – lighten up, Francis.

  • I’m the “OP” as it were, or the victim of this lady’s rage.

    I wasn’t particularly pleasant. I noted everything we actually said, but obviously the tone was exasperated. I’ve never heard a pleasant conversation begin with “Ma’am, I’d like to have a word with you.” Those are scoldin’ words. As in, I deserved a scoldin’. As a cyclist, you get scoldin’s a lot. “Watch where you’re going” when someone almsot doors you, “ride on the sidewalk” when someone wanted to go 45 in a 25 mph zone, etc. Sometimes, you get the sense they’re actually well-meaning, but just don’t understand the laws.

    But DANG. to scold me for something that I didn’t do–i.e., pointed to the light which I had bought just that morning (so wasn’t worn down) and was clearly blinking, and she still refused to see it.

    Also, as an aside, i had a white shirt, white helmet, and reflectors on my wheels along with my lights. So if she couldn’t see me on Warder street, where there are street lights everywhere, then who CAN she see???

  • Is it illegal to not have a front light? I figure that it is just for extra safety purposes for drivers and the bikers themselves…

  • Today on PoP: the Palisades variety of crazy city person.

    • From reading the post, I don’t think this happened in the Palisades. There aren’t bike lanes out there and gentrification isn’t much an issue out there.

      • I was referring to the letter’s mention of Foxhall and other hoity NW neighborhoods. Presumably the nutjob lives over there.

  • I already know what people sound like who watch too much Fox News, and now I know what people sound like when they watch too much MSNBC 😀

  • If she’s psycho enough to look through your mail, go home to type you a letter, then bring it back in the middle of the night, well then she’s probably psychotic and you should watch your back.

  • OP here: i have no idea where the political accusation came from. She clearly thought my comment regarding glasses said, um, a bit more than it actually said.

    As far as rude, it’s hard to remain pleasant at 10 pm when someone won’t let an issue drop when they’re clearly wrong. I thought we did a great job by not swearing, etc.

    As far as weight: yes. I am plump. I was hit by a car a year ago and had to have surgery, and was basically on bedrest for a year. One tends to gain weight laying about in bed on narcotics.

    so, i guess she seized on the one physically obvious trait of mine she could. and then imagined several other traits.

    • Well she had no right to ridicule your weight.

      Is it possible that your light was in fact off? Perhaps she erroneously felt that her being an old person and you ridiculing her eyesight with your comment justified her comments about your appearance?

      So, was she right about your politics? I mean, if she was correct, maybe she does know you more than you think she does – which means she’s even crazier and a bit of a stalker… Seriously, did you have a yard sign out during an election? Contrary to what someone above said, most whacky liberals dont jump on the anti-tea party bandwagon when they’re interacting with a bike rider. This is why I dont have yard signs and bumper stickers… they seem to draw the nutjobs and do nothing to persuade the undecideds.

      • Maybe the nature of the mail provided a clue.

        • I thought the same thing… my bias would lead me to believe a bike rider, especially out in this heat, would be more liberally leaning than conservative. It seems odd the mention of politics without some sort of clue to your politics.

  • made my day – worth a laugh and then move on!

  • nah, i’m a liberal, and agree on the scariness of tea partiers.

    i think she just started hurling every negative thing she could think of at me.

    the creepy part is the amount of sheer effort she put into all of this. a full page, single spaced and typed, going thru my mail so she could try to address it, coming back to post it. All between 10 pm on saturday and 8:30 am sunday.

    • If she went in your mailbox I believe it’s a federal offense – one of the lawyers on here please clarify

    • Oh man, so she didnt even have a reason for the ranting on political issues. I think that makes her even crazier than before.

      Do you have any idea who this lady is? Odds are she posts quite a bit on your neighborhood listserv- that seems to almost always be the case.

  • brookland_rez

    This reminds me of my crazy neighbor and the crazy notes she would leave on my door when I lived on Parker St. For some reason she decided she did not like my presence on Parker St. She started leaving notes on random people’s doors saying that I was part of a conspiracy to turn the whole block white. She worded the note with threatening language.

    The funny thing is the whole block was already white and she was the last old timer black resident on the block. The notes she left was on other white residents’ doors! Finally, the ANC, who lived on the block and received a note, reported it to the police as a threat, and the police paid the crazy lady a friendly visit and then things were quiet after that.

    Must be something about crazy people and anonymous notes. I guess that’s how they communicate.

  • Ugh, I’ve worked for elected officials before and this letter is giving me flashbacks to mail we would get from people who clearly have a few screws loose. Unfortunately I think encounters with crazy people are unavoidable in this city…

    • I worked for conservative radio some time ago (hey, any port in a storm) and you should have seen the letters that got passed around. I’m terrified these people are still considered functioning members of society when they’re one trigger from going postal.

  • Isn’t it illegal for someone to rifle through someone else’s mail?

  • In what neighborhood was this? Just curious

  • Odd, but I wouldn’t fret over it too hard. She sounds literally insane. Waste of time to try to reason with crazy.

  • She’s mentally disturbed. I find this hard to laugh or be angry about.

    • claire

      I’m with you on this. Not an expert, but this letter struck me as a warning sign for schizophrenia… hope this woman has someone(s) close to her who can recognize this and get her help.

  • What was the general location of this? I’d like to know if there is a crazy lady around. They’re dangerous!

  • The blinking lights should be outlawed.

  • My desk is surrounded by my coworkers and we’re having the best laugh about this. Thanks for sharing! This lady needs to be invited to Letterman or something. Maybe you can get Ellen to call her??

  • DC is whiner central and whiners don’t like to deal with reality.

  • It appears to have been written by some of the more grandiloquent posters here.

  • This is pretty funny. Although I agree with other comments about the blinking lights. They should definitely be outlawed.

  • With the time and energy you spent posting this to PoP, you could have been at a bike store buying a light.

  • I think you should get a light for your bike.

  • I wouldn’t fret over it much. She sounds kooky (not insane as others have suggested) and easily riled, but without anything more to go on, I wouldn’t worry about her. Keep an eye on your mail for the next few weeks, in case she does come back, and maybe practice saying, “Oh, OK, thank you” rather than arguing with the next kook who flags you down.

  • I love that she signed it “A civil Washingtonian” That is priceless.

  • something is missing from this letter. Wait a minute…. where is the part where you’re supposed to forward this to 7 people otherwise you’ll suffer for 13 years?

  • If you know where she lives I think you need to get a spotlight – something hugely bright and massive. Shine it in her windows at 10pm next Saturday and ask if its bright enough.

  • This reminds me of something that happened to my roommate a few weeks ago. He was sitting in his parked car in Woodley waiting for his girlfriend to get Chipotle when a 30ish year old woman walked up to his passenger window and tapped on it. When he lowered the window she started berating him and calling him disgusting for picking his nose. He swears to me that he was scratching it, but I personally find that part of the story to be irrelevant. She then starts circling the car shouting at him while gesticulating and shouting to any passer by who would listen about how gross and awful he was. She repeatedly told him that he was a disgrace, that he was uneducated and classless, and that doing such a classless uneducated thing like picking his nose was disgusting. He was dumbfounded, of course, and could only mumble something to the effect of “I was only scratching it, not picking it,” and “I was just minding my own business in my car…” When his girlfriend returned to the car, the woman started yelling at her as well for dating such a disgusting filthy human being and told her not to touch his hand or kiss is gross mouth (I am paraphrasing here but this account is essentially correct). The girlfriend hopped into the car and they hightailed it home.

    I don’t know if it’s the heat or if there is something in the water, but the cray cray seems to be out in full bloom all over this town.

    • Ha, it isn’t the heat. Two winters ago my friend and I were walking down Park Road towards 14th St. NW and this middle aged white woman who looked like she could be a soccer mom looked directly at me (while totally ignorning my friend) and yelled out of the blue, “GO F YOURSELF!” then strode right by us. My friend and I turned to each other, exchanged “WTF was that??” looks before cracking up.

      • I was walking my dog the other day and this woman started screaming at me calling me a big white gorilla

    • Great story.

  • How do we read the letter? As posted it is too small – I clicked on it etc. and can’t get a readable version.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      After you click on it the first time it will open in a new page then click on it again.

      • thanks, though not sure I was ready for such another dose of crazy. But also – why does anything I click on today keep bouncing me the an espn website?

  • I hope you get a light and stop causing trouble.

  • msmaryedith

    You are a fat ass.

    A civil Washingtonian

    Haha, the irony.

  • Mattingly! I thought I told you to shave those sideburns!

  • jim_ed

    Let’s cut the letter writer some slack, ok? Clearly they’re still grieving and angry about their stolen “THIS IS STEELERS COUNTRY” banner.

  • Seems like the score is tied to me. Need to write crazy letter (privately) to tell side of story vs. Need to post said letter to blog (publicly) to tell side of story. It’s anyone’s game in Crazy Lady vs. Plump Biker…who wants it more?

  • I would call the police. This isn’t funny.

  • Am I the only one that noticed that the OP said she bought the light that morning? So she didn’t see you the night before without a light?

    The letter is really overkill but something about your reaction seems pretty defensive. People have to get along with each other in cities.

    • “The letter is really overkill but….”

      There is no “but.” Nothing here suggests the OP did anything wrong, so why don’t we stop trying to impute faults to her?

  • Where’s the fun without a big dose of crazy, a dollop of truth, a sloppy scoop of indignation, at least a page of – duh- wtf, and traumatic memories of childhood scoldings. If you don’t get insane missives – you’re doing something wrong.

  • the fact that she went through your mail to get your name is what scares me the most.

  • It surprises me (ok, no it doesn’t) that no one has mentioned the obvious racism here. The “newcomer” comments reference it, as does the reclamation comment and assumption that she supports the Koch bros.

  • Allison

    Yeah, I would just chalk this one up as “crazy,” move on, and hope you don’t run into her again.

  • Next time turn your light on, you could have been killed!

  • What is with people confusing the words “lose” and “loose”? I’ve noticed an awful lot of this going around lately.

  • why is there a posting on this? move on with your life. its too short to give unreasonable people any of your valuable time.

    • It’s certainly no less interesting than the great majority of stories people choose to share here so I’ve got no problem with her posting it. As for her moving on, there are some disturbing facts here that have to be considered. Between the hours of 10 pm and 8 am, this person took the time to get the name of the resident of this address (maybe she went through the mail (creepy in both excecution and motivation)) or did a search of property tax records online at the website (less creepy with respect to execution but still creepy in terms of motivation)), think through and then type up a one-page, single-spaced vitriolic letter to the resident, drive back to the address, and deposit the letter. That’s not garden-variety unreasonableness. That’s mentally-disturbed unreasonableness, which means this may not be the last encounter with this woman.

  • Yes, this is all a bit crazy. However, she’s still a motorist with a vehicle that can kill you if she can’t see you. Although you had your headlight on, she just didn’t see it. If your headlight is a lower powered blinking light, you may want to consider upgrading to something that is guaranteed to be seen by ALL drivers. Not all blinking lights are effective in the city. Just something to consider.

  • The driver needs to get a life. I think she is mixing up “class” with clueless assumptions. Driver must get bent out of shape when her broccoli touches her mashed potato’s too.

  • In general, if someone starts talking to you on the street about a mistake you supposedly made, just say sorry and stop talking to them. Even if you’re clearly and provably right, it’s not worth an altercation.

  • Some say that the internet with its anonymous forums and message boards has created a class of vitriolic crazies who can publicly post whatever hateful or bizarre ravings come into their head. It’s nice to see that older, more quaint forms of posting hateful and bizarre ravings – with tape on a door – are not dead.

  • Reminds me of a story my brother still tells when an old lady in his neighborhood rang his doorbell and had this conversation:

    Lady: “Is that your car parked out there?” (points to car)

    My brother: “No.”

    Lady: “Well, you better move it, it’s blocking my driveway.”

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