In the last few weeks, I’ve been clipped by a car while riding my bike, saturated on a run by a semi driving through a giant puddle, and berated by mountain bikers for having the nerve to hike on “their” trail. I’ve listened to my neighbors rant about having our street closed down for the local marathon, received a stern glare for asking if I can share a lane in the pool, and been honked at for taking too long to run through a crosswalk.
As a result of this hefty dose of negativity, I’ve come down with a debilitating case of “Everyone’s an Asshole Syndrome.”
Though there’s something to be said for a good temper tantrum now and then, it’s exhausting to have anger as a default setting. It’s even more exhausting to vent about these unfortunate events to others, as they are apt to reply with a few vitriolic stories of their own. Pessimism feeds pessimism, and “Everyone’s an Asshole Syndrome” is highly contagious, I’ve learned.
Lest I infect you with my piss-poor attitude, I’ve relinquished my storytelling hat in this week’s column. Instead, I’ve asked my fellow runners to share their stories of good in the world. As it turns out, not everyone is an asshole after all. In fact, people can be pretty great.
Read these stories of people doing good deeds, then go out and do some good of your own. It may not completely rid the world of bad drivers and cantankerous lane mates, but your inoculation of kindness could certainly boost someone’s immunity to them.
* * *
It was 2005, pre-smartphones, and for me at least, pre-common sense. I was spending December break in my otherwise deserted college town in rural Minnesota, and one late afternoon, went out for what was meant to be a 10-mile run. I was on the cross-country team, and not unfamiliar with the area. Long story short, I got very, very lost. I was incredibly underdressed for winter in Minnesota, the sun was starting to set, and I was beginning to have…digestive issues.
In an act of desperation, I knocked on the door of a random house with no answer. I then stood out on the road. Now, I’m a goody two-shoes and had never hitchhiked in my life, but I started waving my arms to get the attention of passing cars (I now realize this is not how you hitchhike).
Finally, a minivan slowed down. I said a small prayer that I wouldn’t be kidnapped before saying, very pathetically, that I needed a ride back to town. The somewhat bewildered couple said they were on their way to mass, that their daughter was a runner, and of course they would drop me off at my apartment.
I was incredibly embarrassed, and I’m sure they are still giggling about the dumb college kid they picked off the side of the road way back when. Or maybe not! In any case, I’d probably still be out there if they hadn’t stopped.
* * *
I had several friends that were running the Suwanee Gateway 13.1 last January, and I decided to cheer at a few spots along the course. It was relatively cold for Georgia—low 20s with windchills in the teens—so I made sure to always move to keep warm.
I was standing on a curb to the left of all the runners near the 4 mile mark when a runner I had never seen before crossed all the way over from the right side of the course. She was taking off one of her gloves as she made her way over to me, then she grabbed my hand – and put a hand warmer in it. She never broke her stride and kept running the entire time!
It was such a simple, kind, considerate gesture. I was blown away by it.
* * *
During the Colorado Marathon in 2012, I was on course to qualifying for Boston when at about mile 20 I physically fell apart. My quads were cramped and I couldn’t keep pace. It was particularly warm, and we reached a section of the course that opens up on a paved bike path. This guy comes along—also a racer—sees me stop and walk, pats me on the back and says “it’s going to hurt no matter if you run or walk.”
I started running again. He was right next to me, though we didn’t say many words after. At the finish, I turned around to thank him and he was gone. I have never walked again in a marathon.
This guy has been on my mind every single race since then. That little pat on the back from a stranger was incredibly powerful.
I also asked Twitter friends for their stories of goodness as well. Booster shots of kindness, in 140 characters or less:
A guy swapped my sweaty sports bra dollar bills for his fresh ones so I could get water from a vending machine during a HOT long run!
During my 1st 50-mile trail race, my ITB flared up badly. Another runner who was a PT stopped and worked on my injury. Over the next 15 miles, he walk-jogged with me.
I was stopped 1/2 mile from the finish of the 2013 Boston Marathon. The outpouring of help & kindness was awe-inspiring.
As a heavy sweater in my 1st 26.2, I saw a woman do sign of the cross as I shuffled by. Didn’t help my mood, but she meant well.
At Chuckanut 50K two of us were bombing downhill and my thigh cramped. He noticed, ran back, and offered salt tabs & help down to aid station.
While running in bitter cold, snowy conditions—a woman pulled over her car to clap, cheer and gave a thumbs-up as I went by.
About The Author:
Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons, and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). Susan lives and trains in Salt Lake City, Utah with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete husband. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke