Saturday, August 6, 2011

I needed a bike for Burning Man….

So I did what any other person in my situation would do during this modern age: get on Craigslist and see what people are offering this week. 

Found it.  Found a few actually…stylish cruiser bikes in various colors and states of disrepair.  I figured $100-200 for a used bike would be reasonable and sure enough, I found the perfect fit.  Mint green with white trim…the add even described it as a “perfect bike to take to Burning Man” and the price was right.  Sold!

I contacted the guy who posted the add spoke with him via telephone a couple of times and eventually coordinated a time for me to go by his place to check it out. 

Scott.  That is what he said his name was I think…pleasant guy, but notable primarily for being VERY enthusiastic in his manner and speech.  Felt like I was talking to a kindergarten teacher who had just gotten a new puppy.  Huh.  Whatever, I’ll give him $150 in exchange for a snappy new bike to cruise around on the playa with, even if he is a little…odd.  And actually, given the Burning Man context, it actually seems pretty fitting. 

As I drove to the address I was given, it occurred to me that going and meeting some likely weird stranger at his house to look at a bike seemed to hold some serious kidnapping potential…as in, thinking to myself “Nah, I’m sure it will be fine…he seemed, um…nice…and this IS a nice neighborhood…” seemed like the beginning of some graphic horror flick where the girls gets kidnapped by the guy with the bike on craigslist and gets locked in the basement for sixteen years or something….

Obviously, lucky for me, that isn’t how it went down. 

I parked down the street and walked up the drive.  He came stumbling out of the house, bare foot and shushing my hello…

“Someone is sleeping inside…”  Tall.  Like lanky tall…and big eyes he opened wide to punctuate his speech.  Very, very animated whispering….honestly, I think he was shushing himself more than he actually needed to shush me.

“Wait right here, I will go around back and get it!” He tiptoed around what looked like shards of  glass from a broken neon light bulb in his bare feet. 

I stood there, politely waiting, feeling less likely to be kidnapped now.  The house was tucked back, off the street.  And there was a lot of stuff laying around the driveway and side of the garage.  Boxes with miscellaneous refuse., old office chairs, cowboy hats, lamp shades, plastic crates full of dusty old books…and boxes of dry food….crackers, pasta noodles.  There was a large van parked in front of the house that looked full…of stuff.  Was this guy one of those enthusiastic garage sale types or just a militant packrat?  Not that it actually matters…

He came back with my bike.  So cute!  A little rusty, but not too bad…nothing a little love wouldn’t take care of.  I took it for a spin around the block.  It felt great.  I felt like a little kid riding around without a helmet, completely the antithesis of the “cyclist” or “bike commuter” I have at times toyed with becoming. 

I went back to the pack rat’s house. 

“Why are you selling it?”

“Oh.  It’s not mine.  A friend of mine lost his house and I am storing a bunch of his stuff here…it is his and he is just trying to get rid of some things…so….”

“Oh. Okay, $150 right?  Here is $160.”  I handed him a little, pre counted stack of twenty-dollar bills.  I really didn’t expect to get change, figured that I could manage with parting with that extra ten bucks even before I knew that it was going to a homeless guy.   He offered to sell me a heavy-duty lock for my new bike but I told him that I actually already had one…

“Oh, great!  Okay…um…you want some food!?!  I have a lot!”  He sort of scampered off  (yes, I said scampered and that is actually what he did) around to the back of the van and opened it up for me.  It looked like he had just robbed a bakery….the whole back half of the van was full of loaves of artisan breads.  “Here, take some bread!  What kind do you like?  Here take a few!”

“Um…do you have any…um, how about one with rosemary?”

“Yeah, okay, here you go!  You don’t just want one!  Take more!  I have lots!”  He is wildly gesticulating while he enthusiastically encourages me to help myself to the pile of bread.  “Oh, you want some crackers!?! Or Pasta!?!  Oh, I have cookies too!  And salt!  You need salt don’t you?  Everyone needs salt! Do you want Kosher or Iodized!?!  What else you need!?!  Oh, do you see anything else you want!?!” By now he had opened the garage to reveal floor to ceiling of shelves packed with boxes of…stuff.  Like he had not only robbed a bakery but also the local thrift store.  On the floor were several boxes and bags of food…he literally had two boxes full of salt…three different brands…and yes, Kosher and iodized where indeed options. 

Not wanting to be completely rude, I graciously accepted a loaf of rosemary bread, two boxes of Wheat Thins, two boxes of spaghetti noodles, and a thing of Kosher salt along with my new bike. 

“You sure you don’t want any cookies!?!” 

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