I needed a few bucks one month, so I decided to compromise my principles. No, you’re not reading your sister’s blog. This is about me, and how I started repairing bicycles.
She threw me out. Or I threw her out. Sometimes it just happens that way. Regardless, I couldn’t rely on the DINK nature of our household income to finance my expeditions into high-horsepower, massive-displacement Cadillacs. I decided to pick up a second job. But what job?
My answer came to me as I was watching a television in a shop window, playing commercials endlessly between five-minute slivers of a procedural police drama. A man and his son sat, in the timeless father-and-son garage maintenance milieu, but they were working on some kind of strange two-wheeled car.
Was it one of these “motorcycles” I had heard about? I looked closer, pressing my face against the frosted security glass. Locomotion appeared to be driven by some kind of bizarre crank. In a shock of realization, I discovered this was the lower half of the strange creatures I saw inhabiting the “bike lanes.” I consulted Wikipedia on my phone and learned quickly that “bi-cycles” existed, and people often spent lots of money to maintain them without knowing anything about the true nature of labour. A light went off in my head, and it didn’t stop burning until I hung out my shingle.
Customers came fast and furious. One day, I would hold the hand of a weepy hipster after pronouncing time of death on the fixie he gave a name to, taken from us too soon under the twenty-two-inch polished faux-gold wheels of a texted-and-drove QX80. The next, I would burn a pack of pall malls as I brapped the steering head tube apart with my 3/8″ lipo impact on a Cannondale, being waited on by an angry Lance Armstrong cosplayer in spandex. Business was good. The ease of the work - these people didn’t even own a Phillips screwdriver at home - loosened me up to spend time chatting. Each person who walked in my door was intricately broken, and I would need gentle persuasion and a mini-sledge made of compassion to put them back together again. I appreciated the challenge of dealing with the problems of my customers, not just of their machines.
My greatest challenge, however, came today. That’s when you came to me. You showed me there was something better than the degraded existence I had been groping blindly through, the depths of my depression immediately evident to you. In your hot grasp was a brochure printed by the city government, regarding the displacement limits acceptable for a “motor bicycle.” You asked me to build you as much horsepower as possible into 50cc of engine, and then you looked at me as if your demand was impossible.
I asked you to join me in the back room, where the turbochargers lived. Together, we would fix everything.