You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
Today I did errands, not surprisingly, by bike. I stopped at Kirkland Bike Shop and bought a new chain, which I will put on myself (there’s a first time for everything. I hope I get this right). Then I rode into Bellevue along Bellevue Way, which had an amazing amount of traffic. Along the way I kept seeing the same work van, a Cosco Fire Prevention vehicle driven by a lady with lots of hair. After leapfrogging one another a few times, I looked over to my left while we were stopped at a light and smiled. She rolled down the window and said, “I bet you’ll beat me there!” I said something clever, like, “Yeah.” Then she said, “I bet I’m sweating more in here than you are out there!” –which I took to mean it looked like I wasn’t working too hard. If that’s what she meant, it was true; traffic was nasty by Bell Square even mid-day, mid-week. Yuck. Anyway, the light turned and we went again. Eventually I had to merge left, and when I signaled, she slowed down and let me merge in front of her. Then as I pulled into the left-turn lane, she beeped and waved as she passed. Moral of the story: It’s always worth being friendly.
During that encounter, I’d been heading to E.E. Robbins. Every 6 months or so I take my engagement ring in to be checked, and in so doing I maintain the diamond replacement warranty. It’s always a bit odd to ride to E.E. Robbins: It’s so very, very upscale there, and I tend to walk in splattered with mud, sweaty, and with the impression of a helmet pressed into my forehead. However, because this is Washington, they treat me the same as if I wore a nice business suit and pulled up in a Mercedes. (Actually, in the world of bikes, my Seven is probably better than a Mercedes.) This time I walked in and was met by a guy who turned out to be the store manager, Brant Kane. My wheeling a bike into the store not only wasn’t a problem, but Brant apologized for not helping me with the door as I came in. We then established that he was an avid bicyclist and had just come back from a mountain biking trip to Moab. I passed off my rings, and he took them back to get them checked and polished. While I waited, he showed me a tungsten carbide ring inset with carbon fiber, presumably intended for the materials freak. I have my doubts about a carbon fiber-inset ring; seems like the surface would get scratched and dull, and you couldn’t polish it the way you can with metal. Anyway, we then had a gander about his Davidson, carbon fiber bikes (he shattered one riding hard on it), the STP, which he’s done 8 times, and other rides in the area. When I left, I felt more like I’d visited a bike shop than a ring store. However, my nicely polished engagement ring says otherwise.
Then I dropped off Android Karenina at the Bellevue Library. Two things about that: I had hopes for Android Karenina, which was done by the same people who did Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but it was done so well I didn’t make it to the end. The dark, Russian sense of fate, of characters struggling against but ultimately succumbing to their inevitable predestined futures, was too strong. I’ve since started reading A Tale of Two Cities, and I’m really enjoying Dickens’ often razor-edged tone. Anyway, the other thing: I love using the outside book return slots at the Bellevue library. They’re like a little slice of the future. You press a button and a shield drops, revealing a book-sized slot with a conveyor belt leading somewhere. You put your book onto the conveyor belt in a particular configuration; the bar code is read; and the conveyor belt carries it away. You then tell the computer that you have no more books to return, and it offers you a receipt. Why you’d want a receipt for returning a book, I haven’t yet figured out, but every time I use that system I feel like I’ve stepped into the future. I expect to turn around and see flying cars and utopian, Le Corbusier-style buildings scattered amidst an urban garden. Unfortunately, today when I turned around, all I saw was a parking lot full of SUVs.
Then I rode, via the 520 Trail, Lake Sammamish Trail, and Winery Hill (arrrggghhh) to Safeway, where I obtained milk. As I put the milk into my panniers, a small boy approached me. He stood and looked, so I said, “Hi.” Very solemnly, he said, “You’re not allowed to ride a bike in the store.” Without thinking, I replied, “That’s true. That’s why I’m pushing it, not riding it.” Then his embarrassed dad arrived and gave his son a dressing-down about bossing strange adults around while I made my getaway. Another shopper and I exchanged smiles as I wheeled my bike away.
All this to say that this is something I love about going by bike. I wouldn’t have had any of those positive interactions if I’d plopped down in my personal climate-controlled, soundproofed pod like everybody else. But because I was on a bike, I got to engage in my environment and have uplifting experiences that left me feeling good. Also, I got to try out the pannier covers Deborah made for me a couple weeks ago, and they performed perfectly. And before I left for my bike errands, Fred came over and put some thingies (that’s the technical term) up on the roof to channel water into the gutters and stop the dripping on our front stoop and stairs. So in all, this is two good days in a row. Tomorrow I have another PT appointment followed by report-writing for the Bike Alliance and, of course, a bike ride.