As I’m writing this, it’s our first snow of the season and looks more like Christmas than the actual day. Maybe, if we’d had a nice Christmas snow, I wouldn’t be telling this story now. But I doubt it because by 10 am today I spotted my first sidewalk biker, who almost ran down the person shoveling snow in front of our building.
Christmas Day 2014 in Whoville, Dupont
In Whoville this last Christmas morning dawned bright and beautiful. With the sun shining and just a bit of chill in the air, after church, unwrapping presents and a bite to eat, many Who families in Dupont took advantage of the fine weather to walk around the neighborhood, greeting other Whos warmly with a cheery “Merry Christmas!” I joined them around 2 pm, walking up 16th Street near the Church of the Holy City to see the big Christmas display of the house next door and the small crèche on the church side. Nary an auto could be seen driving on the streets. As happens every year on Thanksgiving and Christmas in this part of Whoville, the Whos leave cars behind to enjoy the peaceful camaraderie of walking and talking to neighbors.
BUT THEN THEY CAME–BIKER GRINCHES–First, one, whom I could almost understand, a man biking down the sidewalk with a cart attached to the rear of his bike in which sat a small child. But the cart was wide enough to block the entire sidewalk from any pedestrian traffic. And I wondered how he would stop safely in time to avoid hitting a pedestrian coming around the corner or out of a building. Not only they would be injured but he and, most importantly, the innocent child in the cart, could be hurt as well. Still I assumed he would take extra care since he had his child in tow. And he was riding on the sidewalk opposite of where I was walking.
Within 2 minutes I had just got north of R and saw two more sidewalk bikers–also on the opposite sidewalk, one riding with after the other, each clearly racing his bike, and just missing the Who walkers.
As I continued my stroll and exchanged greetings with fellow Whos, I began to wonder whether this had been such a good idea as I saw yet another biker Grinch speeding on the other sidewalk. Luckily I turned around at that point because I was immediately confronted with a really reckless Biker Grinch on our sidewalk. Riding his bike in a “look Ma, no hands” posture, although clearly more than old enough to know better, this Biker Grinch raced through the crosswalk scattering a Who family right in front of me and continued on in an irregular riding pattern. I barely had time to step on a grass patch to avoid him. He continued up the sidewalk flapping his free hands like some demented bird.
Finally, a Biker Grinch scored a hit. While walking back toward the crosswalk at 16th and Q, I glanced across the street and saw two Who teenaged boys I’d seen earlier leaving my apartment building. A half block north I saw yet another Biker Grinch riding a bike with unusually fat tires. But he was racing it and appeared to be of adult age. The teenagers barely got to the main sidewalk and turned south, walking side by side talking to each other, when the Biker Grinch came up behind and hit the outside boy in the shoulder, just as I’d been hit on the same stretch of sidewalk last year. The boy staggered but didn’t fall. Fat Tire Biker Grinch’s ride was momentarily unsteady. But he didn’t fall either. And sped on without a look behind him looking for new Whos to endanger. The Who boys stood still and shaken, the one inspecting the other’s arm before continuing on, their Christmas less merry after that.
Happily I got back safely to my door and then realized my stroll had lasted not more than 10 minutes.
NEXT TIME NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS.