A well-deserved rebuke at an appropriate time of year

By | July 28, 2009

I’ve recently started bicycling to and from work again after a very, very long hiatus.

My route home from work takes me past the Boston Public Garden:


Because Boylston and Arlington are both one-way the wrong way, I have to make a loop around the Public Garden by taking Charles to Beacon to Arlington.

Or, at least, I would have to do that if I weren’t doing this instead:


That is, I was cutting through the Public Garden.  That would be fine if it weren’t for the “no bicycles” sign posted at the Garden’s entrance.

I rationalized what I was doing: “I ride slowly and carefully… I always yield right-of-way to pedestrians… I’m not hurting anybody.”  Given how much I hate it when other people pull shtik like that, I was being a grade-A hypocrite.

Well, today my hypocrisy came home to roost.  As I was slowly and carefully riding through the Garden, a crotchety old guy stepped in front of my bicycle, forced me to stop, and then proceeded to chew me out, with a lecture that began with, “Can’t you read!?”

I argued with him, because accepting criticism from strangers is not one of my (nor, I would imagine, most people’s) strengths.

But he was right, of course.

Although I can’t thank the crotchety old guy, I can say there that I’m grateful to him for reminding me to live up to my own standards.  Thanks to him, starting tomorrow, I’ll be “taking the long way home.”

The three weeks leading up to the Jewish fast day on the Ninth of Av, and especially in the eight days preceding the fast, are supposed to be used, among other things, as a period of introspection, self-examination, and conscious effort to improve one’s middot, i.e., one’s behavior toward one’s fellow man and toward society.  Whether I ride through or around the Garden may seem trivial, but in fact, no aspect of one’s conduct in this world is truly trivial, and I’m grateful for the reminder.

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3 thoughts on “A well-deserved rebuke at an appropriate time of year

  1. jont

    Yeah, having to do that loop around the Public Garden is annoying. I’ve tried to figure out another way, but haven’t really found anything better. Beacon Street tends to have more red lights than Comm Ave, and doesn’t have that convenient underpass to bypass Mass. Ave. I once tried walking my bike through the garden, but it wasn’t worth it.

    Using the Paul Dudley White Bike Path along Storrow Drive can sometimes be good, but only if the weather is lousy or you’re going during work hours (e.g. the ride home on Friday when sunset is relatively early), otherwise there are too many pedestrians. Under the right conditions, I do sometimes take it as far as the BU area, before switching to Comm. And for the morning inbound commute it’s not bad.

    BTW, I’m not sure where you’re coming from before Kneeland St, but if it’s useful to you, the Common does *not* have a “no bikes” rule, and if you stick with the wider paths, it’s not bad.


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