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On the way to work

After dropping my daughter at school, I headed to work on my bike. As I cycled down the main road just past my house, I almost collided with another cyclist who had come out of a side street on the wrong side.

Furious, I considered the lunacy of people who ride the wrong way in that treacherous gutter between the cars and the sidewalk. I prepared to lash out at him with some terse words about: “making the streets unsafe for everybody” and worse: “drive on the right side of the street you jerk!”

And then I noticed him. I saw who he was.

With stained pants, teetering on a rickety bike, he was holding a huge plastic bag so packed full that it dwarfed him. It had the bulk and mass of what must have been 50 empty soda bottles. And then I noticed his swarthy face, and calm vigilant eyes, and saw that it was trash day and he was obviously bringing in a haul of soda cans for reimburse.

In that moment I realized he probably didn’t speak English, and that he could very well be getting cash for food for his family. And that he was, in whatever way he could, making a living.

In that split second, I decided to keep my sharp and righteous words to myself, swerved to avoid hitting him and continued on my way.