I got chased by a dog on my ride today. That doesn’t happen often around here; people are usually very aware of the traffic and keep their dogs fenced in. This one surprised me, as I was distracted trying to get glass off my tires — I’d just ridden over some that was strewn all across the road and impossible to avoid. One of the mildly cool things I’ve learned how to do is to use my cycling gloves to scrape glass off my tires while continuing to ride — to pedal even. Thank God there were no cars around because I had to swerve into the middle of the road to avoid hitting the thing. It was little and I knew it wouldn’t attack me, but I sure didn’t want to run it over.
Anyway, I was remembering recently how racers from my old cycling club — the one I rode with until this last year — told me that the racers from my new cycling club were stuck-up and stand-offish. They weren’t really interested in new riders, and you couldn’t easily break into their group. They certainly weren’t interested in riders who weren’t great racers, which I am not. Now I haven’t found this to be true at all. My new club members, once I got to know them a bit, are actually very welcoming. I felt this most strongly when they formed a little cheering section for me when I finished my last race.
The funny thing is, the racers from my old club had a reputation for being stuck-up too. They weren’t interested in new riders, and you couldn’t easily break into their group, or so I was told. They just wanted to ride with each other, and no one else. That also turned out not to be true. Once I got to know them, they became my friends.
I realized after a while what’s going on here: these people aren’t stuck-up — they are shy! Both groups were. They weren’t the sort to go out of their way to introduce themselves, not because they were cliquish, but because that just wasn’t the sort of thing they did. It didn’t really occur to them. Once I started riding with them, however — which doesn’t require an invitation, all you have to do is show up — they got over their shyness and welcomed me.
I think it’s sad that rather than figuring out that others are shy, people tend to perceive them as closed-off. I think it’s particularly sad because I am a shy person myself, and I certainly don’t want people thinking I’m stuck-up or stand-offish. I wonder if that has happened to me, and how often. I do try to remember that when people act in a way that I think is a bit odd, that there may be something more going on than I realize. As someone who reads and thinks about people a lot, I think I understand what is going on in people’s minds. I suspect, though, that often I don’t.
Here’s the reading part. The other day, I came across this from The Line of Beauty:
Nick blushed with pleasure and wished there was a way to distinguish shy from stuck-up — the muddle had dogged him for years.
You see what I mean?