Sunday 10 November 2019


by Terry Probert

  flat white coffee


It’s Monday and today I walk. The sky is blue and the sun strong, but a cool breeze makes me happy to be out in the fresh air enjoying my freedom. I stroll through the park without a care, enjoying the peace and the wildlife.

Then I am shaken by a bell ringing from behind. It’s a cyclist who seems unhappy because I am on the side of the path that he thinks is wrong. Does he think he owns this path just because there are pictures of bikes painted on it? There are pictures of walkers too! He rings as if to tell me to get out of his way, but why should I? - there is plenty of room on the other side. He passes and moves quickly out of sight, but my mood has been changed.

Just two minutes later I am startled by another cyclist who passes me at speed. I had no idea he was there - doesn’t he have a bell? It’s not a great feeling to be alone with your thoughts just as a large object whizzes by so close. I chat to another walker who shares my frustration at the way these cyclists seem to feel the park is theirs.

With my park walk ruined I leave and begin my walk home along the streets. Why is there always at least one young motorist who ignores the speed limit and gets a kick from his noisy engine? I lose concentration momentarily and realise that this pedestrian crossing is the one I need to use. As I change direction and start to cross, a car screeches its brakes and gives me a scare and a scowl. What is the world coming to when a pedestrian gets that kind of treatment when doing the right thing and utilising a pedestrian crossing?

When I get home I reflect on how my walk has been ruined by wild cyclists and crazy drivers. Such a shame they couldn’t be courteous like me. I feel angry.

It’s Tuesday and today I drive. It’s another great day and, as I drive out of my garage, I see faces that are smiling and full of joy. I love to drive down the winding country roads - if only I had a convertible; the top would be down and the wind would cascade through my hair. But now I have a cyclist in front of me and have to slow. I can’t pass on the bend and there are so many bends. Why does he have to ride so wide? Can’t he go faster? As we round a bend I see a stretch of straight road and pass him, just as a lady cyclist turns the bend coming the other way. I swerve and she has a fright - but why was she not taking more care?

My fun on the windy roads is over and I head back down the streets to home. A pedestrian crossing is approaching - I’m a good driver so I slow accordingly. With no sign of anyone wanting to cross I start to accelerate again - just as an unthinking man decides to change direction and step out. I brake and there is a screech. I stop in time but the guy gives me a filthy look. Does he really think that was my fault?

When I get home I reflect on how my drive has been ruined by inconsiderate cyclists and foolish walkers. Such a shame they couldn’t be courteous like me. I feel angry.

Today is Wednesday, a great day for cycling. The sun is out and the air is calm - perfect for an outing on my brand new road bike. I don the gear, and love that click as by shoes attach to the pedals. This will be a great day.

The path in the park is marked so clearly. Cyclists and walkers to keep left - I obey. But what’s this? A walker on the right. I can pass him okay but I can’t read his mind. What if he suddenly realises his errant ways and switches to the left? So I ring my bell. He glances back and seems annoyed but he stays on the right side and I pass. That was irritating but now there’s another one. What’s wrong with these people? - it’s not hard. The pictures and arrows on the path are there for a reason. Given the anger of the previous walker, this time I stay silent and pass. He jumps as I go by slowly and says something I don’t catch - but it wasn’t friendly.

I move out of the park and join the country roads - at least walkers are less likely to be blocking my way. A car approaches from behind. Why doesn’t he come past me? I’m as far left as I can comfortably be and pedalling as fast as I can. I feel threatened with a car so close that I cannot see. Bend after bend I expect him to pass and then finally he does. He seems unhappy but so am I.

When I get home I reflect on how my ride has been ruined by walkers who don’t understand the rules and cars who treat cyclists like vermin. Such a shame they couldn’t be courteous like me. I feel angry.

Today is....well it doesn’t matter. And it doesn’t matter how I was hurt. I could have been walking, cycling or driving my car. The fact is I’m paralysed from the neck down. So today I go out on my motorised wheelchair. The sun is amazing and the air so cool. I move down the path in the park. The pictures on the floor are for cyclists and walkers, but I guess they are for me too. I’m pretty quick in my chair and walkers move aside as they hear me coming. They say ‘hello’ or ‘good morning’ and wish me well.

But I can’t compete with the cyclists and I notice how they slow as they pass me, wishing me a good day. Of course I envy them, but not too much. When I get to the streets I have to cross the road and I’m aware of the cars slowing to allow me that privilege. Some even wave.

When I get home I reflect on how my day has been enhanced by kind walkers, friendly cyclists and caring drivers. I am so lucky to be alive and part of this wonderful world. I wish I could have been that courteous when I was able. I feel blessed.

About the author

After a career in risk and finance, Terry Probert recently turned to story writing. This is his first short story and his first book ‘A Fantasy Life’ has just been made available on Amazon and as a Kindle ebook.”

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