Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Small Talk Paradox: "How Was Your Commute?"

Office small talk; it's something we all take part in whether we like it or not. Being a bike commuter makes you an easy target in these sometimes awkward moments. When you're in the elevator or at the water cooler or any other pocket of the office where you are forced to be in the company of others, the silence can be deafening. You and your unintended companion are left glancing around grasping for an icebreaker of some kind. It's in this moment when you, the bike commuter are most vulnerable.

"Weren't you freezing out there?"
"Weren't you burning up out there?"
"How far do you ride again?"
"What time of year do you stop riding?"
"Aren't you ashamed of yourself?" (ok I made that one up)

Most of the time coworkers take the path of least resistance and go for the simple "So! How was the ride?", followed by "You're crazy man!" after my response. Don't get me wrong, it's a nice gesture and I do appreciate the thought. This person wants to hear how cool my commute was, and that's cool. However, the question is asked of me so often I started giving it right back to the source.

"My ride was awesome! How was your drive in?"

This is met with a wide spectrum of responses; anywhere from detailed counter traffic strategies, "Well this morning they were stacked up all they way to the blah blah so I took the parkway to the blah blah..." to head shaking and guttural noises, "nnnmmmuuurrrph."

Most of the time though the question is met with a slight grimace as if to say "You know it sucked, why the hell would you ask me that? It's cruel to fuck with me this early in the morning?"

This led me to ponder the trend... it seems to be a common assumption that being a bike commuter, my daily ride in is always great and that any commute by car is always shitty. If that assumption is both true and common why aren't people more open minded about bike commuting?

The same person who complains about the traffic every day gets to work with two assumptions, that my ride in was awesome and that I'm crazy for doing it.

My assumption is that a good percentage of these people live an easily rideable distance from the office.

I apologize, that was way too many assumptions for one post.

PSA: If you or anyone you know in the DC area has a coworker like this direct them to this website immediately.

It's gonna be a humpalicious Wednseday, enjoy!


Shryke said...

my biking commute is usually Awesome. though I do drive in bad weather. and that sometimes includes an early breakfast at the waffle shop with the missus. which is also AWESOME! so in nice weather I win and in cold rainy weather I win. In heat waves I power through, which suck while doing it and is awesome to have done, especially in the "Eeeww! sweaty boys are gross" protestations from the missus.

extra said...

Yup I get bad journeys to work now and again, bad weather, wind or cars cutting you off (most often that one).

None cyclist really struggles with seen the joy of cycling.

Ordinary Bob said...

No matter how my day at work goes, I get two rides in. It doesn't get much better than that.

Today I had some guy yell at me to get off the road, and I felt pity for him. It must be tough for him to see someone enjoying themselves, when he has so many emotional problems.

Rootchopper said...

Early this morning as I was getting my bike out of the shed, I heard thunder rumbling above. Normally, I don't ride when there is lightning but since I was already wet and my work clothes were packed in my panniers, I rode. Bad: bang, flash, rain. Good: awesome tailwind! Made the right choice again.