I suppose I should have known I was in trouble last night when my five year-old son asked me “Dad, what exactly are the consequences of getting on Santa’s Naughty list?” In my head, I thought ‘not much because we’ve already bought your presents,’ but I decided instead to tell him that tried and true tale that “he might get coal in his stocking.” To this, my brilliant son responded, “coal is helping reduce our dependence on foreign oil Dad.” A perfect response from a five year-old with an iPad 2. But it got me thinking about who is on my Naughty List this year and today I have some thoughts.
First, I’d nominate the people that live on my running route who are fostering the independence and freedom of their pet. I don’t know his name, nor his breed, but I would call him part wolf, part Alaskan Malamute, and part ferocious dragon. He is let to roam free of fences or the chains that bind most pets to their residences. Instead he is allowed to run freely. And boy is he fast. So thank you Mr. and Mrs. Great Big Dog Owners for providing me some variety on my runs for your pets freedom allows me to hone my speed and agility. He hasn’t, thankfully, caught me yet.
Second, I nominate the guy in the BMW SUV that made such precise eye contact with me a few weeks ago… right before he turned in front of me on my bike. My apologies to him for almost scratching his car. I’m sure that this probably caused him some great worry for he even pulled over to check to make sure that I hadn’t actually scratched it. He communicated something with me as he was doing this, but I will not describe the gesture in this family-friendly publication. I thank you, Mr. BMW Guy, for honing my bike handling skills and making me a quicker, more agile rider.
Third, I will put on my naughty list the guy just yesterday that used his horn to alert me to the exact moment that the light we were waiting at together turned green. Had he not laid down on his horn, I might not have started across the cross-walk in that very first second of the light, causing him even greater delay in making his right turn. I thank you Mr. Horn Guy, for being so alert and helping me make sure that my hearing is good so that I sense cars around me when I run.
As a third-alternate, I will add the pair of construction workers that laid on their horn last week when I was running across a street — in a cross-walk with a green light — to warn me that they were making a left-turn on a blinking yellow left-turn signal. Mr. Construction Workers thank you for communicating with me so clearly that you were making your turn. Thank you for keeping me on my toes and reminding me how much I love a good adrenalin rush.
Fourth, I’ll add the people of my city that repaved all of the main roads with some new kind of pavement that I can only describe as a cross between the surface of a cheese grater, lava rock and the belt from a sanding machine. This new surface allows me on my time-trial bike to quickly build a tolerance to the pounding on my crotch that it might 50 or 60 miles on a smoother surface. It is almost like that have added a little jack hammer operator right into my cycling shorts. Thank you Resurfacing People for making my crotch even less sensitive than it has already become over 30+ years of cycling.
And Fifth, I will put on my naughty list the delivery truck driver that helped me with my training last summer. He helped me by taking a chance to pass that on-coming car and coming within inches of striking my head with his side-mirror. I know it was risky on his part to make that maneuver and, although it got him where he was going two seconds sooner, I could have damaged his mirror with my helmet. But I thank you, Mr. Delivery Guy, for helping me test the aerodynamic profile on my bike to prove that even with an 80 mile-per-hour blast of wind I can keep that baby on the road.
Oh my naughty friends, I do hope that Santa has different criteria than me or you may be finding coal in your stockings this year. But look on the bright side, you’ve already helped me greatly in honing my skills and you’ll be helping reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
Coach Joe English, Portland, Oregon, USA
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