For a week I noticed the bike sitting behind the dumpster. It had been rejected at least twice by the garbage men, and no doubt the groundskeepers all passed on it too. It just sat there unclaimed, as if it were stranded on the Island of Misfit Toys.
It was also a pawn in some kind of internal war amongst the different factions of our little community here. The contracted garbage company wouldn’t take it because it wasn’t considered actual refuse according to their contract. Likewise, the maintenance staff wasn’t touching it because whatever resident left it there probably broke at least six condo association rules governing the disposal of personal property.
Rules, dammit. Follow the rules!
So the poor bike just sat there for all those days sitting out in the elements of Florida’s tropical climate. I continued to glance at it whenever I took out a bag of our garbage, but I never even bothered to pull it out for an inspection. It was someone else’s junk, someone else’s problem. Association management would eventually assign a Blue Meanie of theirs to hunt down the scofflaw who had left it there. I pity the fool.
And then I casually mentioned it to my wife one morning on the way back home from the gym.
“What do you mean there’s a bike that’s been just sitting out there? For how long? Why didn’t you tell me this earlier?! I need a bike!”
It’s funny what you just don’t know sometimes. The last thing I ever would have ever guessed is Gorgeous wanting a castoff, garbage dumpster bike. It goes against all the rules in our home about feng shui conventions. Like buying a used wedding dress or leaving a toilet seat up, it’s supposed to be a disharmony to one’s personal karma to “soil” yourself like that.
And speaking of soiling oneself, I don’t know about you, but I think that whole feng shui toilet seat rule is a bunch of hokum. It’s obviously been conceived by new age spouses attempting to curtail so-called bad habits of their bathroom-using better halves. But perhaps we should return to this particular thought another time. I can tax the goodwill of this blog’s readership only so much.
Gorgeous is certainly not a snob by any stretch of the imagination. She loves finding treasures pretty much anywhere, be it a high-brow antique shop or a Salvation Army thrift store. I just thought that this particular treasure was a little beyond her own tolerance level. She surprised me. In the words of my people, go know.
An inspection of the misfit bike was immediately undertaken. Except for a bit of wear and tear on the seat and with the handlebar grips, a smidgen of rust here and there, and the chain in need of some grease gun TLC — it was in surprisingly good shape. With the addition of a front basket and a rear rack, this baby was road worthy. It just needed someone who has tool know-how to get some tools out and fix it.
It’s a funny thing, tool know-how. Not every red-blooded American male gets that gene. If only my lovely wife had chosen to marry a man whose understanding of tool belts was slightly more than a prop for the staging of a two-act amorous play each night, we might have gotten somewhere. Alas, the repairs would have to come via an actual professional.
As luck would have it, there is a bike repair shop right across from our gym. We loaded the bike in the back hatch of our car and drove it over. A repair guy greeted us and listened with great interest about the provenance of our sad little find. A man of few words, he looked it over silently for several minutes and then rolled it behind the counter to place it on a repair stand. After giving what I think would be the bicycle equivalent of a pelvic exam, he came back to us with his verdict.
“Nice find. It’s a Sun Bike, made in Miami, you know. A really good company. It’s in great shape. I can tune it up for you.”
And with that hopeful news, Gorgeous happily went on a store shopping frolic strikingly similar to the manner in which she also graces the aisles of Saks, Nordstrom, Williams & Sonoma, et. al. The same careful scrutiny given to a Kitchenaid mixer was now being made to bike seats. Substitute the time in which it takes to browse all shades of lipstick, apply it instead to handlebar baskets, and you get the idea of the total effort being made here. With the actual repair work was now properly addressed, it was time to shop for accessories. It may only be a bike store, but shopping does rear its inevitable head.
If only Wall Street analysts could spend a day with me, for sure they’d see that any presumed downturn in the economy might not really materialize. They say that small businesses are the backbone of our nation’s commerce. I now have the receipts to prove it.
Once all of the bicycle accoutrements were chosen, the repair man assured us that he’d have the bike finished in an hour.
So we made our way to the gym. As usual I got on the elliptical as is our regular joint practice, side-by-side. But this time Gorgeous headed to the stationary bike area instead. I’m always the last to get the memo. From a distance she looked very happy.
When we returned to the shop, our man was making the last of his final tune-up touches. A new seat, handlebar grips, basket, and a rear rack were already assembled. A large number of tools were scattered all around the man’s feet as he tightened bolts and all kinds of screws. His last act was to generously grease the bike’s chain while he manually cycled its wheels. She was transformed into a thing of beauty.
“A really nice find on your part. The tires and tubes are all in great shape; you won’t need to replace them for quite a while yet. Looks like an old lady used this for church and the grocery store only. Dave over there will take your payment at the register.”
For something around $130 including tax we have what amounts to a brand new bike. While I was at work a few days later, Gorgeous took it out for a spin to the nearby Starbucks — a 15 minute bike ride. She was awfully happy.
So don’t just toss out your garbage without looking for a treasure or two in the process. You never know what you might find.
My next tool belt performance is at 11:00pm. You are not invited.
Until next time…