My neighbor blows into spin class, grabs one of the last two bikes, tosses her coat by the wheels and runs out to fill her water bottle.
With music loud enough to shake the mirrors, the class finds its groove and starts to spin. A latecomer arrives and moves my neighbor’s coat and starts to adjust the seat and handlebars.
“Excuse me?” I say. My words get lost in the deep thump of the music. “That bike is taken.”
She looks up surprised. The only other bike left is one with boy handlebars. Most women prefer the girl bars because their shape and position eliminates the need to lean forward during class. She looks towards the door for my friend.
Other bikers look away. No one wants to get involved.
“That’s her coat,” I point to the brown fabric in a heap on the floor. “She’s getting water.”
The lady moves her stuff to the last empty bike just as my neighbor returns.
As we climb up an imaginary hill and my legs tire from the bike gears, my mind wanders to another time when I spoke up.
At the pool this summer, I saw two middle-school boys picking on a boy with Downs Syndrome. Another mom caught my eye. She grimaced as she watched, her mouth set into a thin, angry line.
I stood in shock as one of them sprayed a line of water into the boy’s face and laughed. I looked to the other mom surprised. She responded with a shrug, her shoulders lifted in a question: “What can we do?”
Momma Bear jumped into action. I yelled at the boys like they were my own. (And my boys will tell you that’s pretty good.) We can do something. We can stop it. We can find their parents. We can protect this boy.
Most times it isn’t as dramatic or blatant as a swimming pool bully, but all the same, if you see something going on that isn’t right, speak up. Or if you see a misunderstanding happening, speak up.