I asked: Are you cops on the path?
I said: Well, I just want to say thank you.
Officer behind the wheel: *big smile*
Officer in the passenger seat (marking in his notebook): Oh. You’re welcome.
Why the thank you? Back at the beginning of the summer, I was attacked by children on exactly that stretch of path along the South West Corridor. It was a terrible experience, being nearly knocked off my bike by two eggs. Screaming in fear because I couldn’t make out what was happening to me. Flipping my bike (luckily, I didn’t fall) in my haste to stop, stop, stop!
I chased those children. I wasn’t kidding. And they scattered like marbles, like mercury. I couldn’t even tell how many there were, and then they were gone. Leaving just me and my fear and shame and frustration and anger. Oh, and nearby, a couple of teenagers who watched the whole episode, seeming unaffected and also unwilling to rat out the children.
I called the police and waited half an hour for them to show. When they did finally, they didn’t seem to care. It even felt to me that they wanted to dissuade me from filing a report. What happened to me just wasn’t serious enough, the offenders were just kids, there was nothing the officers could do at the moment besides patrol the path and away, the Boston Police didn’t have jurisdiction over the path, the State Police would need to be called in for that.
I’ve put a lot of thought into what happened to me. Who the officers might be who looked at me from their car and decided I wasn’t hurt enough. Who those kids might be, whom, after the attack taunted me from a safe distance and then ran. To them, I’m just another angry woman on a bike. Just a target. But I’m not used to being a victim. I’m used to first not presenting like a victim, and second, fighting back using whatever means available.
At the same time, one of the values I live by is: first, do no harm. Another is to understand, look at as many sides of an issue as I’m aware of. And last, proceed with caution. Proceed with love.
So I take my opportunities whenever, however they arise. If I see cops on the bike path, working to keep me safe, to keep other cyclists safe, to keep those kids safe, I thank them.