Washington, DC


Photo by PoPville flickr user John Sonderman

“Dear PoPville,

Just wanted to share an experience I had this morning as a reminder to be kind to strangers, since we’re all struggling with mental health right now.

I was on a long bike ride for the first time in a week, heading down to see the cherry blossoms for sunrise. Around 6:30am, I was biking through the mall on the path parallel to 15th Street, following my partner who was on a bikeshare. When we peeled off the road onto the path, I pointed my headlight toward the ground so I wouldn’t bother the couple of people we passed and slowed way down as I generally do on mixed-use paths.

As I biked past the public restroom, there were two runners, a male and a female, resting about 10 feet to my left. I heard the male runner say, loud enough for me to hear, “I’d like to put a twig through her spokes,” as the female runner laughed in response. I glanced back at them in shock but was too upset to say anything back that wouldn’t escalate the situation.

Like most people, my anxiety has been horrific this week, so this interaction distracted me for the rest of my outing, and I’m still feeling distraught about it hours later.

When you encounter strangers in this time, recognize that people will take things a lot more personally than in a normal time, whether or not you’re speaking in jest. Little things will add up and continue to break down peoples’ mental health. We’re all just trying our best in this uncharted territory. If anything, wish them a good morning and good health and be kind to everyone.

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