I don’t talk a lot about my running and biking to people when I meet them. In fact, it’s often my wife who brings up that I have run a 100-miler. I park my bike in my cubicle at work, and that’s about the only statement that I make about bike commuting. At work, I’m part of a small group of people (five of us) housed within a larger department that we don’t really have much to do with. Since most of the people in my department don’t really have a need to stop by my cube, many of them have never seen my bike parked there. I’m one of the first people to arrive in the morning, and in the evening I can usually slip out without anyone seeing me.
A few weeks ago, I had put on my commuting clothes and was carrying my bike out of the office when I came around a corner and nearly ran into my department VP. She was also on her way out, so we made small talk about how far I commute, etc. Evidently she hadn’t noticed the bike in my cube, which is fine with me since I never did ask anyone’s permission to bring it into the office (this new guy assumes that no one would mind – it’s always easier to ask forgiveness, right?).
Fast forward to today. I didn’t bike into work this morning since my wife was out of town and I wanted to make it as short of a day as possible for the dogs because they’re locked up in the house while I’m at work. This morning at work we had our quarterly “Group Hug” (that is the official name for our department-wide meetings – the unspecified airline that I work for is known for being a little quirky at times). I have been there for a little over a year, which means that today was my lucky day to be called up to the front for special recognition. I walk up to the front, receive my little pin from my VP, and turn to walk back to my seat. And then she stops me. ”There’s something I recently learned about Jesse. Did you know that he rides his bike into work EVERY SINGLE DAY?” Tell them where you live. And how far do you ride.” While I’m awkwardly trying to explain that I didn’t in fact ride my bike in this morning and that it’s only a 10-mile commute, someone that I barely know yells out, “and he runs every day at lunch.” I have no idea how this particular person knows that I run every day, unless she sees me out running while she’s driving to go pick up her lunch.
It’s not that I’m ashamed of my exercise habits, but I generally just don’t like talking about them with people who aren’t runners or cyclists themselves. When I do talk about it, I would much rather talk about running over bike commuting. Most of that stems from the fact that my job title is “Environmental Specialist.” Vegan, bike commuter, environmental specialist – my labels hit the bullseye for a certain stereotype that I don’t necessarily feel that I meet. I don’t measure my carbon footprint or count the pounds of CO2 emissions that I’ve saved by riding my bike or by not eating meat.
I ride my bike to work because it’s good exercise and I enjoy it. But mostly, I ride my bike because it saves us a shit ton of money. Money is green though, so I guess that I could tie that back into my job and legitimately say that I commute for “green reasons.” If I ever move back to Canada where money is multi-coloured, I’d be screwed.