Back on May 22, I shared some of my frustrations with the current state of biking in Durham.
A particular car (shown below) has been a source of frustration for weeks. Every Sunday, the car parks in the bike lane in front of Mount Vernon Baptist Church. Same car, every Sunday. It's usually the only car that parks in the lane because the church has designated parking areas in three other locations that all its other patrons use.
For reasons unrelated to biking hazards, I was feeling defeated this past weekend. When Sunday rolled back around, my nemesis was predictably in its illegal parking space. My patience had met its end. I was done being a keyboard warrior and ready to stand up for myself. If any real change was going to occur, I had to take action. So I became a pen and paper warrior instead.
I wrote a note and walked from my house back to church intending to leave it on the windshield for the owner to read once the congregation was dismissed. Luckily, the owner of the car happened to be rummaging through his trunk as I approached. Now, he would understand my frustration firsthand.
I opened the conversation by introducing myself. He did not return the courtesy. As he continued to rustle through his things, I explained the situation: you are parked illegally and it's dangerous for cyclists like me who use these lanes to feel safe on the road. Without turning around once to look me in the eye, his rebuttal was "I've been parking here for years."
Let's play this out in another situation:
Officer: "Sir, selling crack cocaine is illegal."
Citizen: "But officer, I've been selling crack cocaine for years."
Officer: "Ma'am, did you know you're over twice the legal limit?"
Citizen: "But officer, I've been driving under the influence for years."
I left the conversation unsatisfied but my efforts would not be in vein. Sitting 30 yards from me in the parking lot was a police officer. On my walk back home, I stopped by to explain my conversation for the record. Before the officer could get out his car to take action, my nemesis was already moving into a new parking spot. I can't say for sure if he saw me talking to the officer, but nonetheless, I won the battle. Whether I've won the war is undetermined.
Let this be an example to anyone who believes Twitter is the battleground for problem solving. My inclination that morning was to fire off another tweet and leave the cause up to the discretion of the Durham PD. No longer!
In his essay Civil Disobedience, Henry David Thoreau said:
"Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority."
Tweeting is doing nothing for our causes. It is only expressing to the public our curated, diluted hopes, wants and desires. Things worth fighting for take time, energy, grit, and persistence, and more often than not, your physical presence.