Being Hell-pful

, , , , , , | Friendly | March 29, 2018

(I bike around my city, which is fairly bike-friendly, and thankfully, a mixed-use trail and bike lanes connect my workplace, home, and dance studio. I’m leaving the dance studio one evening when I realize I’ve got a flat. I’ve just pumped the tires so I realize there must be a puncture, and resign myself to walking the bike home on the mixed-use trail. I decide to take the opportunity to call my mom. About halfway home, a middle-aged man and a young teenage boy ride past me. Suddenly, the man stops and bikes back to me.)

Middle-Aged Man: “Do you need help?”

Me: “No, thanks.” *returns to my conversation*

Middle-Aged Man: *interrupting me* “Are you sure?”

Me: “Yes, thanks.”

(He rides off and returns to the boy, who abruptly starts pedaling back to me and bellows:)

Boy: “HEY! He was just trying to be nice!”

(I ignore them but start to feel nervous. They begin idling about the trail, staring at me; I can’t get home without passing them. I whisper into the phone what’s happening and ask that my mom stay on the phone with me. Another cyclist passes me and stops at the crosswalk ahead, so I feel better about continuing onward. As soon as I approach them, the man asks me AGAIN if I need help. I shake my head and continue talking to my mom.)

Middle-Aged Man: “Okay, I’m just trying to help,”

(He says this loudly enough that I can’t hear my mom, and starts following me. I’m not sure how else to hint, so I say:)

Me: “Please leave me be.”

(They continue to follow me down the trail to the crosswalk, and I hear the kid whisper:)

Boy: “She’s got a flat.”

(I wonder to myself why they offered help if they have just now noticed this; walking a bike while you’re on the phone isn’t unusual.)

Middle-Aged Man: “Sure you don’t need help?”

Me: “No, thank you. I’m fine.”

(I say this pointedly, making eye contact with the other cyclist, who doesn’t seem to catch my silent plea for help. The light turns, and she carries on as I sadly watch her leave me alone with them. The man and boy initially take off, and I pull my pocket knife from my bag and rest it on the handlebars. But, sure enough, they pedal back to me a few minutes later and start CIRCLING me like sharks.)

Middle-Aged Man: *with somewhat of a salivating grin* “I’ve got a pump in my bag you can use.”

(I’m feeling totally creeped out, and I am realizing that they are just going to keep bothering me. I’m still on the phone, but I interrupt my mom to tell them:)

Me: “I told you I don’t need help. The police station is right up the street. I will call them right now if you don’t leave me alone.”

Boy: “God, we were just trying to help!

(They pedalled away, finally for good, apparently realizing the proximity of the police station. Five minutes later, I was very, very relieved to get home, and found it ironic that I did start feeling like I needed help, because I was being harassed by people who would not accept that I didn’t need their help.)

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