Last night it was cold enough to deter me from an outdoor run. So I bundled up the Tyr bag and headed down to the Vaughn Center with the idea to run a series of 400s on the track.
So I warmed up. And while I did, a gaggle of kids piled in for their afternoon workout with a coach that runs practice there every week. I should remember that 4:00 in the afternoon is not a good time to go to the track at the Vaughn. But in the moment, a part of me hoped that this track coach might recognize that there are runners other than his young proteges on the track.
That was a naive hope. He lined his kids up and started having them do strides in all four lanes of the 200-meter track. I avoided the crew the first interval. But the kids were circling back in the center of the track on the second one. So I walked off the track and went over to my bag and got dressed. Figured I’d go run outside.
But that didn’t feel right either. Apparently, I was just not meant to run at all yesterday.
Did I behave like a spoiled brat? Could I have waited to see if the track would clear after they did all their drills like they always do? Yes. I could have waited. And it was my fault for not remembering that they start their workout that time of day. It’s a fact of public facilities that organized workouts take precedence over the needs of individual runners on any track. It’s an unwritten rule, but it’s still a rule of some sort. Like the Pirate Code.
I do still think there’s another rule that all runners and coaches should abide. The Lane One rule. If someone is obviously doing something serious in Lane One, then how hard is it to accommodate that person? Well, truth be told, sometimes it is hard to alter a workout for thirty kids for just one person.
Perhaps I could have walked over to the coach and asked for permission to run in Lane ONe while his kids were engaged in drills. But honestly, I decided my needs weren’t that important at that moment. Plus I felt heavy, slow and stupid during that first interval because I felt heavy, slow and stupid in general yesterday. On days when I feel heavy, slow and stupid, I’ve learned to let it all go. There’s usually some good reason why my mind is not 100% focused.
And once I went outside in my gear to run, I realized that I still had the final little dribs of a project to finish. I think that was lurking in the back of my mind all along. So I ditched the run entirely and went back home to finish up the project and felt good about that.
Soaking in it
Later that evening I did a rare thing. I poured a big bath in our jet tub and soaked in it for a while.
This morning, I got up and did a six-mile run through a local forest preserve. I had my hood up and it was cold as heck outside. But I felt light overall, and the birds were singing despite temps of sixteen degrees.
But when I got home, there was a note in Facebook Messenger waiting for me. Some guy from a networking organization to which I formerly belonged had sent a Friend request. But I wondered why he wanted to Friend me. So I wrote him through Messenger and asked:
Me: Hi (Name). I received a friend request from you and want to respect that. But know that I’m politically liberal and capable of expressing it across a number of fronts. If you still want to friend on FB given my perspectives all good. But I’ll not apologize when I publish the facts of science and the like.
Him: Well, as an engineer majoring in physics & mathematics I’m rarely wrong when it comes to sciences; so we may disagree, but I don’t discuss it on FB since no opinions are changed online:)
Me: Well I’ve met professional geologists who claim it’s all a product of the Great Flood. So sometimes it’s a gray area to people
Him: True…some areas are gray…. theory of relativity got us to the moon and quantum physics brought us the semi-conductor… Yet both theories are in conflict… So which one is correct?
Me: That’s the beauty of science. It doesn’t pretend to resolve those issues until it finds reason to do so. I’m comfortable with not knowing everything but the process of learning continues.
Him: Lol …the liberal who used science to jump off a building thinking he would never hit the ground and not die. “I’ll start at 1000ft and always have 1/2 the distance to fall….500, 250, 125, 62 1/2….” Sadly he only talked to one math professor who didn’t teach calculus.Have a good day Chris
After that, his comments got nastier and nastier. So I could tell he wasn’t really trying to be “friends” at all. Then he revealed his actual purpose for Friending me by typing in the words GO TRUMP! He was just aching for a chance to be vindictive. It didn’t really surprise me. As you may have surmised, I half anticipated his purpose from the outset.
I knew that because he’s the friend of another guy from the same networking group from which I resigned. And that other guy once posted a political meme calling President Obama a narcissist on my Wall, and then objected when I suggested that he provide some context to his comments. Then he attacked me through Messenger demanding a “man to man apology” after calling me, and these were his words, “A sick fuck.”
And the guy’s a family counselor for a living. Nice.
Run it off
But I’d had such a good run this morning that I decided to forgive and let it all go. But I also took two minutes to write the national office of that networking group to notify them that even after I had quietly and politely resigned from their group due to their long and vocal practice of derogatory comments about liberals and millennials and gays, they had gone to some trouble to harass me.
I left the networking group because I saw that I was not a fit with the political and religious tone of some of the members who treated it like their own private political cult. Yes, I quietly asked some fellow members whether the political comments bothered them. Several former members of the same networking group later told me they left for the same general reasons. We all left with civility. Because sometimes you recognize that some people aren’t about to change. Not for anyone. Or anything. And they’ll do everything they can to make your life miserable if you suggest otherwise.
But I believe there is such a thing as civility. I left the workout yesterday because I saw that my needs and desires to do a speed workout did not trump the priorities of those kids learning how to enjoy the sport of track. And unlike some of the people I’ve encountered over years on public roads and facilities, I didn’t stand by the track shouting that I pay taxes and deserve to run there when I feel like it. I didn’t moan that my freedoms were being impacted or call people names in order to chase them away. I didn’t do those things because that’s not how I view the world.
I try to be nice. Handle it with all the class you can muster. Avoid confrontation, but don’t back away if people need to be called to account for their actions.
Because in the end, there’s such a thing as being nice and there’s such a thing as being too nice when people with ugly intentions try to foist their nastiness on the world.