I'm the Leo Buscaglia of the bike path. Riding along each morning I greet everyone I meet.
"Good morning!" I said. The biker coming in the opposite direction blinked and did a double take. She mumbled something unintelligible as we whizzed past each other the doppler effect taking it's toll on the micro-conversation.
"Good morning!" I said. The elderly Asian couple pushing their grandchild in the stroller looked up, stopped and turned. "Good morning," the husband replied smiling and slightly bowing his head.
Buscaglia was the master of making friends and welcoming everyone into his world. His cheery greeting to absolute strangers would often get the response "Do I know you?" And Leo would reply, "No, but wouldn't it be great if you did!?"
"Good morning!" I said as I drove by a woman taking in the morning air on her front porch. Sitting just 20 feet from the street with her cat curled up at her feet, she didn't flinch and said nothing. Maye she's hearing impaired I thought. I could turn around and give it another try. Or perhaps she has 911 on her speed dial. "We've got at 502 (cheerful while biking) in progress on Owasso Street. All units respond."
The other day I was riding with a friend who was unaware of my job as official bike path cheerleader. A bit embarrassed at first, he began chirping back a warm good morning greeting of his own. The movement is growing.
"Good morning!" I said. The two women walkers were engaged in a vigorous animated conversation as I rolled past then. "Good morning!" they laughingly replied in perfect unison.
Many of the people I pass are wearing ear buds or full headphones as they pedal, walk or run missing out on the sounds all around them. Sometimes I'll just wave to them as a "good morning" might not be heard through the latest Dixie Chicks CD playing on their iPod.
"Good Morning Buck!" I said. Buck and his dog Zinger are frequent fellow travelers on the bike path. Zinger, who is walking a good 100 yards behind his master, looks up to make sure Buck is in sight. While Buck and I have engaged in longer conversations than an early morning greeting, Zinger is a bit leery of coming too close. If I stop my bike before Zinger passes, he'll intentionally make a large circle around this stranger with the helmet, vest and out stretched hand. A scratch isn't what Zinger is looking for this morning.
Like Leo, I'm not out to change the world or get a return on my investment. If if should get an unsolicited "Good Morning!" it might have been the seed I planted. Or maybe it is just another person who's happy to be alive.
"Good Morning!" I said.