Last week, I found my bike in the basement and it wasn’t working. The brakes were disconnected, but not in the usual way, and I became instantly frustrated and confused. Damn! Why can’t I ever learn to operate my bike?
I considered the bike shop up the street. I thought about how many times I have had similar questions and wheeled my bike over, sheepishly asking for help with my silly questions. “Could you show me how to pump up the tire? How do you know if it’s full? Um, is the chain broken or is it just off its rocker?”
The guy at the bike shop is endlessly patient. He’s kind and always steps away from his actual bike repairs to help me out. I am always grateful. And he always hands me a flier and says, “We have free community classes on bike repair.” And I take a flier and never go.
So here I am once again, in my basement, with my brakes all disconnected and I try to connect them myself, but the shit really looks broken, you know? And I consider the internet, then just taking the bus, then of course the bike shop. And I hope that the same guy isn’t there and someone I haven’t bothered yet might be there instead.
I walked the bike over, and it’s him, the really nice one. And he hooks the brakes up in about 30 seconds flat with a smile.
As I left, I thought of a story I heard recently. Richard Leider, a career coach who wrote a book on people finding their calling, asked a cab driver if he enjoyed his work. The cab driver turned around and said, “Mister, I do this to make a living. And nope, I don’t enjoy it.” Then Richard asked, “On the days you are most fulfilled, what are you doing?” A smile crept over his face and his 60 something year old eyes twinkled and he said, “I love helping the old ladies. They call me each week and I take them to the grocery store and then help them bring their bags up to their house. I’m their guy.”
“Do you get paid more for this?” Richard asked.
“No but these are the days I enjoy my job.”
And I thought about the guy at the bike shop and how, like the old ladies with the taxi driver, how he’s “my guy” and imagined for a moment that some of the days he likes his job most are when he’s helping people like me…