About 8 months ago, I decided to buy a bike. Since I live in one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world and live right downtown, I thought it would be a good idea. I could take my bike places instead of walking, driving, or braving public transit in Fareless Square.
So I got on Craigslist and found a used bike for $60. I asked Alex to come with me to get it, because the guy selling it lived in Clackamas. Not only did I have no idea where Clackamas was, but I definitely did not want it to be the last place I was seen alive. And clearly, Alex would save me from any harm. We borrowed Amanda’s car, threw the bike in the trunk, and then stored it in Alex and Talia’s garage until the weather was nice enough for me to ride it home.
Yesterday was a pretty nice day. I woke up at 10:00 and wasn’t planning to do anything until 1:00, when the Plastics were meeting for lunch before our Brewfest marathon day. Sounded like a good day to take the bus to T&A’s and ride my bike home.
I found enough change in my room to buy a bus ticket, since the only cash I had was in $20 bills, hopped on the bus and got off by their house. As I was walking through the McDonald’s parking lot, I threw my bus transfer ticket away, since I would be riding my bike home. I don’t think I need to add a foreshadowing note here for you to see where this is going.
Alex and Talia were out, but they gave me the combination code for their garage. I got the bike out, closed the garage, cleaned all the dead spiders off the wheels, hopped on the bike, and immediately fell over when the pedals wouldn’t turn. After I cleaned myself off and checked to see if anyone had seen me (they had), I flipped the bike over and noticed the chain was, as they say, completely FUBAR.
While repeatedly telling myself what a self-sufficient and resourceful badass I am, I assessed the situation, figured out (roughly) what the issue was, and tried to fix it. I wish I could say I fixed it MacGuyver-style with a ballpoint pen, a piece of gum, and some dental floss, but all I really had to do was put the chain back on the gears the right way, which took me about a half hour. I rode down the street and back, but the bike was making all sorts of weird noises.
Side note: Alex and Talia’s next door neighbors have a daughter who’s about seven. At the same time I was struggling to figure out how a bike could break when it hadn’t been touched in 8 months, she was teaching herself to ride a unicycle on their street. I have never felt so worthless in my life. Every time she passed me, she said hi just to rub it in that she could talk AND ride a unicycle at the same time.
I called Alex and asked where the nearest bike shop was, imagining that I could just ride over there, get some screws tightened quick-like and then ride home as planned. To make this ridiculously long story a tad bit shorter, I will reveal some information I didn’t have at the time: The nearest bike shop was actually 7 blocks away from where I was. Alex, however, sent me to where said bike shop was located TWO YEARS AGO, approximately a mile away. So I walked my bike there, worried it would break again if I rode it, putting me through a very embarrassing wreck. Then I called Alex and told him there was no such bike shop at the intersection he gave me, which he didn’t believe. I called Brian and had him look up the address of the place. Then called Alex and asked him if he was confused and meant to send me to the closer place, to which he responded, “Well yeah, there’s one there, too, but I swear there should be one where you are.” (The more adept of my three readers may wonder at this point why he didn’t send me to the close one in the first place if he knew it was there.)
Anyway, I called the place, found out they moved while Alex wasn’t looking two years ago, and walked my bike back towards where I started. When I got to the shop, I told them what I thought the problem was and they said they needed to replace the part, which would take at least a day and cost me $28. Could I come pick it up tomorrow?
So that’s how I ended up standing on the corner of 20th and SE Powell when I was supposed to be at lunch, covered in bike grease and sweaty as hell, carrying a bike helmet and lock, kicking myself for throwing away my bus transfer ticket. I didn’t bring any bus money with me and wasn’t really interested in begging for it at the 7-Eleven. I called Ben and Amanda, who graciously offered to come pick me up, even though they had literally just driven by that exact spot five minutes ago and were now on the other side of town. I decided to walk up Powell while I waited for them. In the process I found some really interesting places in SE Portland I wasn’t previously familiar with, including a place that has a whole cement lot full of bouncy castles, one of which was shaped like an elephant and full of children bouncing and screaming in delight. At one point I was texting Amanda to tell her where I’d walked to, when I ran into a tree branch. Face, meet tree branch. While I was standing on the sidewalk laughing at myself, I heard Ben and Amanda yelling “MEGO! MEGO!!!” from their car. I ran across a busy street to get to them, opened the car door, and seeing that the back seats were folded down, dove into the trunk.
The happy end of this story is that I made it to lunch about a half hour late, showered and wearing different clothes, and enjoyed about 6 hours of the Brewfest with my ladies. However, just when I was starting to forget how strange my life can be, I ran into all of my brother’s friends from high school standing outside the bars downtown. It was after midnight, I was walking home from the post-brewfest party at Berbati’s and once again heard someone yelling my name in the street. My brother’s buddy Aaron is getting married next month and his best man lives in Portland, so the bachelor party was an entire weekend of debauchery at the Oregon Brewers Festival (sprinkled with visits to bars and classy strip establishments). My brother is in the wedding, and would have been here if he didn’t have to be in school. So the boys decided I needed to represent him at the bar. I ended up spending the next four hours drinking and hanging out with them.
A broken bike, a brewfest, and a bachelor party. Sounds like a nice little Saturday.