It was a jumping kind of day.
Jumping out of bed because I missed my first alarm. Jumping into the shower after a run that took longer than I thought. Jumping into the pantry to scramble together a some-sort-of-lunch and jumping into a bowl of muesli for breakfast because all of my jumping seemed to be in slow motion for the day.
Jumping on the bike and jump-biking to class.
To make matters a smidge more unnecessarily panick-y, as I was slamming my bitty-sized road tires into the myriads of wedges in the choppy Emporia streets on my jump-bike to class, I was watching the front tire literally deflate in front of my wide eyes.
Pinch flats, you little stinkers.
My beautiful wonderful bike is my main man. That’s how I zip to work directly following classes every day like a good little capitalist. That’s how I get home after work. That’s how I get anywhere, really, because I hate driving in towns.
I didn’t have any time to go back home and get my car before going to work. And I equally didn’t have any time to just walk to work after courses.
After I squeal into the bike rack in front of Visser Hall, I give a downhearted squeeze on the front little guy.
Yep. Flat. Sad and flat like a wooden puppet who just wants to be a real girl.
I sit in two hours of courses, calculating: I’ve got one hour in between my classes that is my only hour to get things done until after I get off work at 6. Where can I squeeze in “light bike maintenance”?
That hour, on this day, was devoted towards biking downtown to my landlord’s office and turning in the rent of both me and my roommate, and also sending emails with a professional resume (that I hadn’t made yet) to the five teachers I will be interning under for my Phase 1 Education semester. Those things being due by 3:30 this day (surprise!).
I’ll just zip to the on-campus bike pump before booking it downtown.
Yeah, okay, good game plan.
Class ends, I skimper to my bike and walk her to the bike pump. I twist off the golden cap and lock the head of the bike pump to her securely. Like a dynamite expert I grip the handlebars and give it a solid pump.
The air swooshed out of my tire faster than I was able to pump it in. I checked the nozzle to make sure the head was securely fastened and locked; it was. I checked as much as I thought to, thinking that perhaps I was simply being an idiot who couldn’t properly air up a bike tire.
In the midst of my downhearted and severe struggling, visibly becoming more and more agitated, I suddenly heard, in a long Midwestern drawl; life-breath:
“Can I be of assistant, ma’am?”
I turned around to face a tall, overalled man with a mechanics hat and a big bushy moustache. I nodded feverishly and he crouched to examine the situation, deeming that my presta tires needed an adaptor in order to properly connect to this bike pump.
Immediately he jumped into his ESU-issued golf cart and declared his intent to go purchase one for me from the local downtown bike shop; as he peeled away, he called over his shoulder:
“The name’s Bruce.”
Bruce, you hero.
He came charging back, adaptor in hand, 15 minute later. Like the true champion he is, he swiftly latched the adaptor on the bike pump and had my tire at proprer PSI in minutes. My tears dried up, my throat stopped thumping, my body stopped shaking.
It was as if all the wrong in the day–hell, all the wrong in the world–faded in those moments. The fact that someone was so willing to just help me. To shimmy all the way downtown to get something to aid a struggling stranger.
“Eff you ever need this here tired aired, just come to on o’er to the shop”, he said, gesturing over his shoulder. “Ask for Bruce”, he added.
I nodded furiously, grasping his hand in mine and giving it at least seven solid pumps to show my appreciation.
We need more people like Bruce. Beautiful wonderful helpful Bruce, just observing people in struggle and doing what he can–above what he is expected to do–in order to salvage them from their own sense of panic.
Peace and Blessings,