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  1. #1
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    Do we even realize

    …how lucky we are?

    So I’m riding into work this afternoon fighting a wicked headwind thinking about how unlucky I am to be going into work on a beautiful Friday afternoon and how terrible it is that my family Medical costs are so high this year and wondering if I’ll be able to retire next year or will I have to stay with this crumby shift-work beyond my 60th birthday, blah, blah, blah. You get the picture? I’m genuinely feeling sorry for my poor little old self.

    I got drawn from my private little whine fest by a feminine shout of “Hey, come here. Come here. Hey, come here.”

    About 50 yards to my left, I had just crossed a busy street, was a woman with her old beat up bike on the sidewalk. The bike was upside-down and the rear wheel was off.

    Now let me explain about the neighborhood we were in, Dewey-Stone, for those familiar with this area. The crime rate has been on the increase around here for several years now and has just recently become front page news. Armed robberies, drugs, burglaries, the whole nine yards have become the norm. I’m always a little concerned when I travel through this part of town and I have had a few problems here in the past.

    So I was a bit hesitant about rushing to her aid as I closely scanned the area for an ambush. I then slowly rode towards her on my Volae explaining that I’m on my way to work and I don’t have any tools with me. She responded with “I just want to see how your bike goes.”. Well let me tell you, that about turned me around and sent me 'heading for the hills' right then and there. Then I noticed that her rear derailleur was in her hand and realized she just wanted to see how my chain line was routed around the DR cogs so she could put things back together and be on her way. It turns out that she had few options as she has no cell phone. She had to fix it or walk it!!

    The bike was a beater, an old Royce Union 10 or 12 speed (I didn’t bother to count the gears) and probably the only transportation that she owned. The derailleur was the type that hung from the axle and on her bike the wheel was secured with a quick release skewer. The derailleur had pulled out from the axle and she was desperately trying to make sense of the whole mess.

    Now here’s the cool part. Aware that I was strapped for time, she jumped into action. First she opted to put the wheel back on and then stand her bike next to mine so she could use my chain line as a guide. Now up to this point I have yet to even touch her bike. She’s got the wheel on, and now I can see why the derailleur came off…she doesn’t know the proper way to secure the QR. She wheeled her bike alongside mine, which I still haven’t let go of, and starts putting the derailleur back in its place. I was holding her bike upright by the loose saddle while she worked the chain back into place. With a little coaching from yours truly she had it all back together. It took about five minutes. All the while I’m looking around in case this isn’t what it appears to be but I need not have worried for I noticed many area residents inside their homes were watching also. (Vigilance stemming from the public neighborhood meeting with the Police Chief last week I imagine).

    Well without the use of any tools she managed to get it together well enough to get her on her way. This woman was not helpless or lacking intelligence. She was just poor. She mentioned that she wished she were a man so mechanical things would be easier. I assured her that gender has nothing to do with mechanical aptitude and reminded her that my hands never touched her drive train. All I did was hold her bike and tighten her quick release. I did show her the correct way to secure the QR. She smiled, apparently pleased with herself.

    She headed South and I headed West. It occurred to me that the wind didn’t seem so bad any more. I looked down at ‘Little Blue Bike’ and thought how I’ve really been taking my good fortune for granted lately. I’ve got so many nice bikes. I’ve got a cell phone to bail me out of trouble and a darling bride to come and fetch me and my bike with our nice shiny truck. I guess the bills and all that other stuff really isn’t such a big deal after all.

    I hope that lady made it home alright. I feel a bit guilty about my distrust. Mostly though, I feel very thankful for my good fortune.
    Last edited by cranky old dude; 03-20-10 at 12:36 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Shp4man's Avatar
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    Good story. Thanks for posting it.
    1988 Peugeot PY-10/P Frankenbike, 1994 Diamondback "Response Elite" MTB, 2002 Performance M201 MTB and a 1983 SR road bike that has become my favorite ride. At least for now.

  3. #3
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    Cranky, you shouldn't be slaving away at shift work, you should be writing human interest stories for a living. You, sir, have a poet's eye and a poet's heart.

  4. #4
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    You done good, Cranky!

    And it's a sad commentary on our times that you were compelled to be vigilant for malefactors before rendering aid.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for this post; it's a great reminder.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    I'm so glad that life isn't fair.

    I'm thinking that most of the people on earth are born into places like China or Africa. The year that I was born even Europe was in the midst of WWII. Through no effort on my part I happened to be born in the US. I'm a benefactor of the fact that life isn't fair.

  7. #7
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    Good for you for helping. Good for you for reflecting on it. Good for you for posting.

    Thanks

  8. #8
    xtrajack xtrajack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    I'm so glad that life isn't fair.

    I'm thinking that most of the people on earth are born into places like China or Africa. The year that I was born even Europe was in the midst of WWII. Through no effort on my part I happened to be born in the US. I'm a benefactor of the fact that life isn't fair.
    What he said
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  9. #9
    Senior Member donheff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Louis View Post
    Cranky, you shouldn't be slaving away at shift work, you should be writing human interest stories for a living. You, sir, have a poet's eye and a poet's heart.
    +1 you should send that to your local paper.
    Every man is, or hopes to be, an Idler. -- Samuel Johnson

  10. #10
    Senior Member curdog's Avatar
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    You're a poet! I second the recommendation of sending this to your local newspaper.

  11. #11
    Senior Member wrafl's Avatar
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    Good post Cranky. Don't we wish life would be that simple? Peace and harmony amongst mankind.

  12. #12
    Banned. The Weak Link's Avatar
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    Well done.

    You don't need to apologize for being cautious. My pastor once pulled over to help a stranded motorist and was badly beaten and robbed for his efforts.

    Being generous and being cautious are not mutually exclusive. The key is that you remained available.

    Spending time in former Communist countries can be an eye-opener. I met a family in Romania that lived in a refrigerator. They were happy to have the shelter.

    Every time I get a bit discontent I ponder that sort of thing.

    Waxing philosophic but possibly along similar lines, when I bemoan that I'll never be one of the Beautiful People (I'm just a no-class beat-down fool and I will always be that way), I behold what the Beautiful People do when given half a chance, like Jesse James cheating on one of the hottest women ever, or Tiger Woods, or.....

  13. #13
    Wheezing Geezer Bud Bent's Avatar
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    Good story. I can identify with your retirement concerns. The other morning at work, climbing machinery to repair it, I caught myself stopping what I was doing several times to recalculate just exactly when I'll be able to retire. I am so past being ready for it. I am independently poor though, so it will not be a plush retirement. I have downsized and now have a paid-for house. My truck is soon to be paid for. My pile of unpaid medical bills is getting smaller. I get my health care from the VA, but my wife doesn't have insurance (other than my insurance from my job) and isn't retirement age yet, so that will be a major concern. I go back and forth on just exactly when I want to make the retirement move. I don't feel I'm quite financially ready yet.

    Then, at lunch break, I visited the lung cancer forums where I still try to inspire and give encouragement. After reading a few of the stories of the day there, it hit me like a thunderbolt that I am pretty lucky to have a decent paying job in these tough times, and still have good enough health to do the work, over two years after being diagnosed with lung cancer. We can get reminded of our good fortune in many different ways, it seems. That was my perspective adjustment for the day, and will help for a while, as I keep trudging along.
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    They told me it's ok to post mileage over in the commuting forum, so you'll probably find me there these days.

  14. #14
    Senior Member tntyz's Avatar
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    Great story! Not long ago I came to the realization that I have everything I need to have a great time biking. Now to figure out what to do with all the other stuff I have laying around the house . . .

  15. #15
    Senior Member Timtruro's Avatar
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    A very nice story Lenny. Whenever I would complain as a child about our plight, we were fairly poor, my father would say that he was reminded of a quote that always shut me up, it went something like "I complained because I had no shoes, until I met a man with no feet". That always put things in perspective and I try to recall it every time I begin to whine and complain, even jus to myself. We need to spend more time being grateful for what we have, and not complain or lust after those things we don't have.
    "If there are no cigars in heaven, I shall not go." -Mark Twain

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  16. #16
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    A bit of a different perspective I guess. To me you were wise in your caution. It is an unfortunate fact that in today's world there is a need for abundant caution. At the same time kudos on taking action after you had assured yourself there was little risk. Life is taking reasonable risks; not in taking no risk.

    In my lifetime I have seen society change from everyone responding to problems, sometimes to the detriment of successful resolution, to where very few will do more than just observe and wait for "someone" to do something. Glad to see you are a doer and not a watcher.

    As to comparing our country to others; it depends on what comparison and what country is involved. We are in the midst of what economists call structural restructuring; but this time it is the entire globe and not just an individual country.
    Last edited by HawkOwl; 03-20-10 at 01:12 PM.
    It is better to smell the flowers than taste the roots.

  17. #17
    Senior Member ecrider's Avatar
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    And she also feels lucky you passed by when you did. It's all a matter of perspective.

  18. #18
    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    Lenny,

    Thanks for the story - she sounded like she had more mechanical ability then most men.
    It also show that when you lack the means you develop the skills.

    As far as retirement - although I am not quite as close as you, I suspect I will need to continue until 62, mostly because I have one more college education to pay for. I would like to retire now, not because I don't like what I do but more so because I get so little chance to do it.
    "Of all the things I ever lost I miss my mind the most." Mark Twain
    If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

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