Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stood at a podium outside the U.N. on Friday wearing a dashing bike helmet — only to break my heart.

A promise had been made to me that I would get to ride bikes with the secretary general. To be fair, the promise was only implied; the invite from the Embassy of the Netherlands and its associated partners read only, “U.N. Bike Ride.” But I definitely was under the impression that the secretary general of the U.N. and I would very possibly be riding bikes simultaneously, in the same vicinity, in concert. Discussing issues of the day; inspiring others around us to celebrate the bike as a low-carbon — high-fun! — means of transport.

This is not me.

I hadn’t been to the U.N. before. People that live in New York don’t really go there. Only in New York City would an international organization tasked with keeping the world prosperous, healthy, and at peace be relegated to a strip of land by a murky river and then ignored. The complex sits like a once-great college campus at the end of 42nd Street, oozing stale optimism onto the highway that runs underneath it. It’s a symbol, not a destination — for this idea that we can all work together to change the world for the better despite a great deal of evidence to the contrary.

With the Earth Summit — or as it’s officially known, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (oh, bureaucracy) — now days away, we’re in one of our hopeful periods about the U.N., like we just bought a lottery ticket that probably won’t pay off but-what-if-this-one-time. Maybe this time, the U.N. will shift the world on its axis.