My departure times in the mornings have been slipping, slowly. I’m now leaving an hour later than I used to. In some ways this is nice – there is more traffic, but there are also more bike commuters and more light. With the later start times, I’ve been seeing one commuter regularly, morning and afternoon, which was a happy thing for me. Happy because he always had a smile, and a hello, and there is something happy about being able to look forward to that.

I mostly would see him in the neighborhood that I think of as The Between. Between the bike lanes and busy-ness on one side, and no bike lanes on smaller roads and The Big Hill on the other. The Between is my favorite part of the ride, and so of course it is also the shortest. Quiet and pleasant, I often see people out walking, working in their yards, chatting to neighbors. I know the trash pickup schedule, and I know which dogs wig out every time they see me, and I sometimes see kids riding their bikes or skateboards to school. It is not exactly the half-way point, but close enough, and on my way home I stop at the sound wall, and I take a second. I drink water (because I’m not coordinated enough to drink and ride), and sometimes check my phone for new tweets. Sometimes I even send a tweet myself.

Having a happy greeter in this short section makes me not want to change my schedule, in case I miss him.

I had never talked to him, though, he was just the Man in Blue, the Friendly Commuter.

This morning I did leave home earlier, I wanted to have time to get home for my Thursday night yoga class. It is a yin class, and I find I need Yin to uncrimp and restretch after a week of biking. So I knew that I might not see my Friendly Commuter, or I might see him across several lanes of traffic if I saw him outside the boundaries of The Between, making a greeting a thought instead of a reality.

As it happened, I saw him just before I hit the far side of The Between. He turned into The Between as I was approaching the exit. He pulled over to my side of the road, so I stopped when I got to him.

And about fell over at his first words, which were “you inspire me!” I am pretty sure I have only ever inspired someone by accident, but there you go. I had my first laugh of the morning.

We exchanged names and general route information. We talked about our love of the biking. He mentioned his schedule change, which will mean I won’t see him in the mornings for a while, but maybe in the afternoons. He’d stopped me, specifically so he could mention his schedule change, in fact. While that might seem weird that he’d do that, given we didn’t know each other’s names, and had never before had a conversation, it made perfect sense to me. I’d have wondered, and worried, if he’d suddenly disappeared.

And it turns out I had a name-for-when-you-don’t-know-someone’s-name too. I was the Mystery Commuter to him!