A few years ago I worked across the street from a building that was in the later stages of construction. That meant that all the city sounds, of traffic, of seagulls, of boats, were built on a foundation of construction noise – of saws, hammers, workers, nail guns, and forklifts of various kinds, lifting building materials into the building.
This building was right along the ship canal, in Seattle, where daily, hundreds of stubby working boats earnestly tugged their barges, or huge ships glided (glid?) through with a serious air, or sleek, sexy, expensive yachts knifed through the water, each leaving a special wake all its own. The wake would hit the rocks at the side of the canal long after the boat had passed. It was a nice place to sit and think, and have lunch, or just watch the boats… Between the building that I worked in and this one was a bicycle path. Being Seattle, there were a lot of bicycle commuters.
One morning, they’d blocked the bike path off for some construction, and all the bikes were coming on the road between the building I worked in, and the one that was under construction across the street. As I was headed into the building, the noise in the background, I noticed this wave – no – wake, just like the boats, but this was not of water, it was a wake of silence heading toward me, and as I turned to see why – I saw this black cyclist coming toward me. Now when I say ‘black’ – I mean, black helmet, black wraparound sunglasses, black shoes, and black spandex, from head to toe.
I know there are people for whom spandex is a bad thing to wear. There are people for whom, quite frankly, spandex should be illegal.
I’m one of them.
But the person riding this bike had every right to wear it. This spandex was flat where it needed to be flat, curved where it needed to curve, and rippled where it needed to be rippled. Frankly, it was a testament to the brilliance of whoever invented it, and a testament to the hard work of the one wearing it.
At the same time, it covered every square inch there was to cover, while making quite clear what, exactly, it was covering.
The silence left in the wake of that cyclist was profound.
Nail guns stopped.
Work… Simply… Stopped.
The cyclist, for a moment, stopped too, as the light at the intersection turned red.
And while it was red, there was – there’s no other way to say it but – complete silence.
It turned green, they cyclist started off, and all the workers, stunned at the complete example of physical perfection they’d just seen pass by, cheered like only construction workers can cheer.
And then, with a smile, they cheerfully went back to work.
What I’d noticed, because I was closer, is that smile was shared – because as the cyclist rode past, the one part that wasn’t covered, broke into the slightest of grins.