Sunday, August 16, 2009


It's a milestone day, Internet.

I went for my last run across the Golden Gate Bridge as a San Francisco resident. PLUS, instead of turning around at the Marin County line (the second tower) like I usually do, I decided to shoot for the end of the bridge itself (only an extra half mile, but this marks my longest run ever) and VICTORY WAS MINE! I am really proud of myself, particularly since when I first started running I couldn't even run half of a lap at the track.

Then something unsettling happened.

But first, the demographics of the GGB in the 7AM/8AM hours are as follows:

The first half mile or so of the bridge (starting from the SF side) has the tourists who are moseying out to look and take pictures. There aren't too many that early in the morning, but they're always there. The middle of the bridge is empty except for the runners and MAYBE a few hearty tourists. The Marin end of the bridge usually has a few folks doing the half mile out mosey from the other side.

So on my outbound run this morning I saw a lady somewhere near the middle, totally out of mosey territory, walking at a leisurely pace. I noticed her because she was that far out on the bridge but didn't appear to have a camera with her, which I think is like a required accessory for the non-exercisers. I wondered what she was doing, but I didn't think too much of it. I assumed she was being alone with her thoughts or something.

I finished my run across and started walking back and I had just passed the Marin tower when I crossed paths with her again. This time I was able to see her face and she looked sad. Not really even just sad, but really upset and in pain. She wasn't crying or anything, but the look on her face really affected me and I walked a few more feet thinking that I should go back and ask her if she was okay.

Noooo, don't be silly. Maybe she's just cold and her face looks like that because it's cold and windy. Mind your own business, Elizabeth.

So I continued walking and thinking about her for a couple of minutes but I couldn't shake the feeling that I should turn around and go back to her. I stopped walking and stood there for a second, trying to decide what I should do.

Go about my business?

Or backtrack to go ask that stranger if she was okay?

I wasn't even thinking about it in a "she might jump" kind of really was just out of concern and I thought maybe it might make her feel better to know that I cared. (Old age has turned me soft.)

I decided that even though it was totally out of character for me, I would turn around to at least just walk in her direction and then re-evaluate when I got closer.


When I stopped to think about what I should do I noticed two police cars pass (which is unusual) but I didn't put two and two together until I turned around to go back and saw that they had stopped next to the lady and a police officer was putting his arm around her.

I'm telling you, Internet, I just about burst into tears right then and there. My intuition had been SCREAMING at me to TURN AROUND AND GO MAKE SURE THAT LADY IS OKAY but I was too busy trying to talk myself out of it to listen and seeing the police with the lady made me realize that my intuition was 100% right on the money.

I don't know what happened to tip the police off, but a few minutes later two CHP and two bridge patrol cars passed with their lights on, which seems like A LOT of police coverage for one potentially suicidal lady, but I was relieved to know that I wasn't wrong -- something was definitely going on with her and that someone was there to keep her from doing it.

Where there's a will, there's a way and all, but NOT ON MY WATCH.

That said, I:

1. Feel like an asshole for being grateful that I didn't have to get involved.

2. Feel like an asshole because I'm a little bit annoyed that my last GGB run / longest run ever has been overshadowed.


Anonymous said...

I saw this on the Discovery Channel. There are video cameras on the bridge and they have people monitoring the video who are trained to profile potential suicides. They must have had the same vibe as you and called out the police.

You shouldnt feel like an asshole bcs you were on your way back to help her when you saw the cops.

Kristy said...

Don't feel like an ass. There are a million ways that scenario could have played out. Just feel good that your instincts were right.

Sarah said...

no way! I think the intuitive moment was just a way to cap off your amazing run, not only did you do something amazing physically, you also were amazing mentally. I think had the police not gotten there at that moment you would have gone back. Good job on both accounts.