People Helping People

There was a summer morning last year that I woke up in a bad mood. A mood that meant it would be “one of those days”. Do I normally remember a bad mood morning a year after I have one? Definitely not. But this one morning ended up kind of cool.

I decided to go for a run, and headed out of my Brooklyn apartment determined to get in at least four miles. I convinced myself that four miles was what I NEEDED to achieve if I was going to turn my day around. It’s funny that I gave myself that ultimatum. It was a really hot morning that day.  Four miles or bust? Why? It was that tendency that people have–when something is going wrong, you look for other things that are going wrong, so you can beat yourself up and complain all day that nothing is going right. Horrible idea, mel.


So, creating my own unnecessary downward spiral for the day, I set out on the four mile run. I remember the heat was getting to me, and around mile 2 I was huffing, with my head leaning to right in exhaustion. That’s a weird thing I do when I’m running to the point of “oh man, I can’t go any further” (my high school track coach used to yell “left! left! left!” when I ran past her in races to try to correct my head lean; didn’t work.). At this point, I was on Marcy Avenue, running parallel to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. The two mile mark meant I was at the midway point to turn around and rack up the 2 miles back for my grand finale of 4. But I was hurting. I was ready to call it quits and walk home. Run fail. Day fail. And my day hadn’t even really started.

With my head cocked to the side, I struggled to continue running down the street, passing by people who were walking to the train, walking to work, walking their dog. I thought to myself, I must look like an idiot. I kept pushing though. Looking ahead of me, there was another person coming up; a kid with a backpack on his way to school. As I approached him to pass, eyes straight (no eye contact when you’re running and hurting!), he stuck his hand out for a high five. And I stuck out mine.



A huge grin came over my face. Right on, dude! Thank you! I stopped at the corner and looked back, but he didn’t turn around. I’m not sure why I thought he would, this wasn’t a love story scene. But I’ll tell you, that small gesture, that high five, changed the rest of my day. I chilled out. I walked for a little, then finished a slow run home feeling happy. That kid pulled me out of my little run or die microcosm. My day was going to be great.

I love when the smallest things mean something big.


7 responses to “People Helping People

  1. i love when you pass someone and they give you that little extra burst of motivation to keep going! also, i’m giggling to myself right now remembering you tilting to one side as you ran 🙂

  2. Mel.. AH! I’m smiling so much right now.. I wrote a lyric once, and it says: “The Smallest Change can make the Biggest Difference”.. and that’s just what happened to you! A tiny *clap* of the hands from a stranger was enough to jump start your mind to get above zero & back to the level that it usually operates on.. What a GREAT story!! and you know what, you’ve inspired me.. Now I’M going to be THAT GUY for someone else the next time I run. =)

    Love Chris

  3. Aww! Wonderful! I love stuff like that.

  4. amandasperspective

    I love the head tilt bit…I never knew that about you! Also, about people trying to be friendly or make eye contact while running – being VERY new to the running world (I officially ran for the 5th time this year today!) I can only say that if someone so much as tries to glance in my direction it makes me angry because all I want to do is breathe, and I can’t! I was running in the countryside here (in Paraguay) and someone tried to say hello and told me how “good” I was for running and all I could do was glare in their general direction, not wanting to acknowledge that I was bright red, sweaty, and suffering, and much much much less wanting to say “THANKS!!” And also, running in Asuncion – not quite as fun as one would image, (would one imagine it was?) I can’t get past the first block without horns honking, and people shouting and cat-calling! They REALLY are not used to seeing people running, or exercising here! Oh the adventures of starting to run in less-than-ideal places!

  5. amandasperspective

    And also, I almost forgot – here is a VIRTUAL HIGH FIVE!

  6. Pingback: in good company » Blog Archive » Melanie Weinberger: High Five Moment

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