This is Justin. On Friday, he and his wife Melissa—and their bakfiets—rescued a strange, retching man splayed out on the sidewalk and transported him to safety. That strange retching man’s name? Sam. As in, uh, me. I am that strange retching man.
At 8pm on Friday, I hopped on my bike to head home from a friend’s house. I was tired—forebodingly tired, as it turned out.
My short trip was to take me from Edgewater up to Rogers Park. I turned on my front and rear lights and began pedaling. I felt queasy at once. After a few blocks, I realized I was developing serious problem. Oy. I was too weak to pedal, and I slowed to a walking pace. I was getting dizzier and queasier by the second, and I wondered whether I would be able to stay atop my bike at all.
I was only a mile and a half from home. What were my options? I could get off my bike and sit by the side of the road, helpless, praying that I’d feel better. Or I could keep riding and arrive home as swiftly as I could manage. Neither option seemed good, and I chose the latter.
Not that any of this mattered. I pedaled five more blocks before my condition further deteriorated. I dismounted, leaned my bike against a stop sign, and flopped to the grass like a dead fish. Then I puked. A couple passersby came and went, oblivious to my plight or purposely avoiding it.
I’d reached a low point, personal dignity wise.
Thankfully two people stopped to make sure I was all right—Rogers Park residents Maria and Melissa, the latter riding a cool blue European shopping bike. The two of them stayed with me for what seemed like 20 minutes, making sure I didn’t die right there in the street. (I was pretty out of it at this point, so it might’ve been much longer than that.) They’re kind, terrific people to whom I’m deeply grateful.
Does the story end there? No way! Melissa insisted on getting her husband to give me a ride home. I protested. This was too nice! Besides, I’d be fine to ride after resting for a few minutes. But she didn’t believe me and texted her husband anyway.
A few minutes later Melissa’s husband Justin arrived. In a car? No. On a J.C. Lind Bakfiets.
“Cool bike,” I said. “But no, no, I’ll be all right.”
“You also have a cool bike,” said Justin, according to my fevered memory. “But I insist. I was only chopping a melon, and that can wait.”
Even in my hazy mental state, I recognized something poetic about rescue by a melon-chopping, Dutch-bike-riding Good Samaritan, so I gingerly trudged aboard.
Justin fit me, 6 foot 2, and my folding bike in the front basket, and he stuffed my backpack in one of his panniers. (By the way: he had at least 220 pounds of cargo and the bike didn’t even blink. Great ride quality in the basket, too.)
We took back streets to get to our destination, me in the front, pale green with a collapsed folding bike plopped on top, Justin ably pedaling in the back, turning heads as we rode by. Who are those cool guys? They asked. (No, they didn’t ask that.)
I profusely thanked Justin and asked to take his picture so that I could draw attention to his and Melissa’s good deed via blog.
What’s the moral of this story? First: there really are deeply good people in the world. People who would see a vomiting stranger on the street and insist on taking him home. Seriously! I’m amazed and slightly embarrassed by their incredible kindness.
Second: some of these incredible, generous, deeply good people in the world are cyclists. Does this need to be said? Probably not to the readers of this blog. But America has a cultural problem with cyclists, and as banal as it sounds, it’s worth mentioning that people who ride bikes are people, and that they contribute to happy, friendly, socially cohesive neighborhoods that look out for those in need.
Of course that mundane observation is actually controversial. I write this having in mind the response to the recent hit-and-run on the Natchez Trace Parkway in Tennessee. See below for the video of a dean at a local private school ramming his Volvo into an unsuspecting guy on a bicycle.
Pretty horrifying, right? Not to everyone. The amount of the sociopathic comments on this video was, uh, impressive – even with the knowledge that sociopaths congregate in Internet comment sections. Does a person deserve death or maiming for slowing you down a few seconds? Of course not! What if that person’s riding a bike? Then definitely yes!
(Note: cyclists can use the full lane on the Natchez Trace Parkway, which is a federally designated bike route.)
If only these people could find themselves puking on the side of the road, saved by bike-riding heroes.