Dear Margo

Dear Margo column

Q. I am a bicycle rider, or at least I used to be. A couple of months ago, I almost got run over in an intersection. It was a four-way stop, and I had stopped and was waiting for the oncoming car to stop before I proceeded. I didn’t realize the driver had not seen me, and just as I was crossing in front of her car, she started forward. For a second I thought, “They want to kill me.” I screamed like I was being attacked, and the driver stopped in time to just tap my bicycle. She did not knock me over. I was pretty shook up and had to get a ride home.

I recognized that I was a little fearful of getting back on my bike, but I did, thinking that my fear would decrease over time. It has not. My resistance to riding has become so great that I can no longer ride alone. If I’m riding with someone, I am fine, but I no longer ride to work or to do errands. I hate this. I just want to be like I was. I hate going to a therapist for what seems like such a small thing. Do you have any advice?

Terminally Spooked?

A. I do not consider your fear a small thing. It is interfering with your life and your routine, and it’s entirely understandable to me as someone who is afraid to even get on a bike.


I would suggest you see a cognitive therapist (often they are psychologists) to deal with your one issue. Look at it this way: The fright you are experiencing is clear-cut and fixable, so consider yourself lucky that this straightforward difficulty (let us call it “vehicular phobia relating to four wheels versus two”) is not a stew of dysfunctional relationships, abuse, or depression requiring extensive therapy, medication, past-lives regression, or what have you.

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Q. Most of my family members, with the exception of myself, are well-to-do and have successful careers and lovely homes. They are in the habit of giving donations to charities rather than actual presents on gift-giving occasions, because if any of them needs anything, they can afford to go out and buy it.

The charitable contributions are a lovely and generous practice. However, recently a family member gave money, in my name, to a charity whose conservative (pro-life, anti-LGBT) values I do not agree with. I came unglued, the stuff of real family legend. I was told I cannot dictate what “gifts” I get. But I think that if my name is to be associated with it, I should at least get to request a favorite organization. Do I, or should I, have any right to request that donations in my name not go to such organizations?


A. What an interesting question. I feel your pain and understand your pique. Having such different values from the conservative organization that received “your” contribution would make Jesus want to drink gin from a cat dish, to swipe a phrase from Anne Lamott.

When it’s an occasion — birthday, anniversary, etc. — you can’t really request where the donation will go. The only time such direction is proper is in an obituary. What you can do, however, when you hear from this organization (and you will, because now you are on their list) is to respond with a note asking that you be removed from their mailings.

All letters must be sent via the online form at