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Campus Life

Trader Joe’s Girl


A few months ago, I was biking up Comm. Ave. through Packard’s Corner. Just as the street swung away from Brighton Ave., my front wheel caught in the T track, sending me flying over my handlebars.

As I lay on the cement, a slight tingle in my left shoulder, I watched two pedestrians pass me a few feet to my right and a car roll by on my left. As I picked myself off the ground, I realized that Boston biking is a lonely undertaking.

Not quite a motorist, not quite a pedestrian, many bikers find themselves lone wolves between the two camps. As a result, it has become easy for people to characterize cyclists as heartless half-machines half-jerks who disregard traffic laws and ride onto sidewalks.

While the claim’s not entirely undeserved, I’ve come to see and appreciate the quiet, unique community that exists among bikers.

For example, one night I biked with my friends Devon and Ian to Trader Joe’s in Coolidge Corner. Halfway through the produce aisle we heard what sounded like a ton of bricks landing on the roof. People on the sidewalk began to run inside to avoid torrential downpours and flash floods. All we could do was stand there speechless and wish we’d worn something waterproof.

“Do you bike?” one of the workers stocking fruit asked us.

We yeahed a reply and asked how she could tell.

“I could see the happiness drain from your faces the second it started to rain,” she answered.

She was a biker too, and talked for a few minutes before excusing herself. When we were in the checkout line, she found us and offered three plastic trash bags.

“Stay dry,” she said with a smile. We thanked her and told her the same as we ripped holes for our heads and hands and slipped on our makeshift ponchos.

This random act of kindness seems to exemplify an empathy that sometimes goes unacknowledged among us all.

Despite our soulless crimes — like speeding through a crosswalk flooded with people, or taking up two lanes during rush hour — we do have feelings. It does hurt bikers when pedestrians call us names, or when we get drenched to the bone by a speeding car. It’s a dog-eat-dog world on the streets of Boston, which makes the occasional bit of compassion all the more appreciated.

So, wherever you are, Trader Joe’s girl, thanks.

Andrew McFarland can be reached at afarland@bu.edu.

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