Someone was watching me.
Sometimes you think you are alone in your thoughts. You think you are alone on your daily commute and routines. Safe. But someone may be watching, noticing you in your solitude. Waiting for a vulnerable moment. Watching from the shadows, seeing you very clearly.
I was starting college and was proud to have transport light enough to haul up and down three flights of stairs (with a dress on) and rugged enough to get me across town.
I tend to be lost in my thoughts most of the time and biking was liberating. Somehow in a busy city, I seemed to find the perfect time to ride. I don’t recall feeling stressed or overwhelmed by my surroundings. I remember enjoying my solitude and how pretty the trees in the park were. I was content as I navigated through streets, sidewalks and crowds of people. .
The last time I’ve used a bike, mind you, was in middle school. But there I was, a seedling in college, with a brand new bike, gliding down Boylston Street, cutting through the Public Garden, Downtown Crossing, heading toward the clock tower to work.
My day came to an early close on Fridays. Fridays I had a meeting at school..
A stranger was waiting for me at my bike.
I’m not the person that likes talking to strangers. I’m the girl who goes out on walks with her nose in a book. I wear headphones sometimes without any music playing so that I may avoid talking to people. The stranger didn’t look like he was going anywhere. He was waiting for me. As I approached him, a couple of guys stopped by to shake his hand, give me a hello nod and then took off.
M: “My friends saw someone trying to steal your bike. We have been trading out turns to wait for you to get out of work.”
JNET: “Wow. Thanks.”
M: “I’m Matthew. You don’t know how to lock your bike very well. Someone noticed that and tried to take your bike but we stopped him. ‘Hey, we know the girl who rides this bike.’ He took off. We have been keeping watch since then.”
He didn’t say much about the person trying to take my bike. Perhaps he didn’t have more to say. Perhaps that person was a known foe on the streets that the couriers were aware of. He and his friends were simply people noticing someone trying to do something not so good. I think they made an impression on that person to leave me alone. .
He showed me how to lock my bike better. I wasn’t locking it properly. He also showed me how to best adjust my seat so that I don’t have future problems with my knees or back. They knew bikes, noticed every bike rider and got that I was green.
My day could have gone another way if it wasn’t for Matthew and his friends. The shadow could have won the day and blemished it for me. But strangers rallied that day for me and brightened it.
I never saw Matthew again after that day. But I felt safer knowing the world has good people like him and his friends. The world has bad people watching.
And the world has good people watching too.