the missing spool

The Missing Spool, Canon Digital Rebel

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…



  1. Kerrilee
    Posted July 18, 2005 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    I love the story of the cab driver how nice of him to help senior citizens. I live in Boston and frequently take the t otherwise known as the MBTA train system and i always see many older folks out and about and yet noone gets up and gives them their seat, how nice to read many miles from Boston there is that kind gentleman humble for making a day helping older people is when he enjoys his job the most.

  2. Posted July 18, 2005 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Aww, I like the story. Great.

  3. Posted July 18, 2005 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    You know, I really love the way you say things.
    Great post today!

  4. Julia
    Posted July 18, 2005 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Great story, Andrea! This post really put a smile on my face. Your bike shop guy sounds like a “gem.” Love the photo today too….

  5. mary
    Posted July 18, 2005 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    “Anybodies Bike Book”…I got this book 30 years ago and recently (well a year or so ago) pulled it out when I had to change a tire on the bike. Guess what? It worked!!!! Not as much fun as finding a “guy’ though.

  6. Posted July 18, 2005 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    That taxi driver-what a beautiful human being. Thanks for sharing and restoring a tiny bit of our faith in humanity.

  7. Posted July 18, 2005 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    I love cabs almost as much as I like cab drivers. Guess that’s why I Heart NY.
    I too, have a cab driver story to share.
    I had just finished witnessing a lecture by the ever-amazing medical intuitive and self help writer, Carolyn Myss.
    I had gotten a ride to the event and the people I was with decided to bail out early. I stayed to see Carolyn and have her sign my book. Upon meeting her and hearing my name, she said…”Donavan, you must be very creative”. “I guess” I said. She sternly replied, “No, my dear, you are not hearing me, I mean that you MUST be very creative, it’s who YOU are”
    Stunned, scared & thrilled (a frequent state of being for me), I went to call myself a cab. The payphone was broken and smelled like pee.
    I prayed for a cab to come and sat on the curb dialing a friend on my cell phone. Before the phone even connected me, a cab pulled up. I got in and had a ride that I will remember forever. The driver told me that I seemed like a “Very Creative Guy”. That’s not even the weird part. At the end of the ride he said it was on him.
    When I asked him why he said, “Because I can’t charge for doing God’s work…you prayed and I came”.
    Then he handed me a card with his private number and said, “Good for one more free ride”.
    The next day, the card had disappeared out of my wallet.
    Cue Twilight Zone music.
    Guess that free ride will come when I truly need it.
    Or it already did come, to remind me that miracles are real and by being “Creative”, we hold the hand of God.

  8. Posted July 18, 2005 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    It must run in bike shops…my local store is the same way! I always feel dumb, because I never know how to fix it myself. But they always do it with a smile, and a “have a nice day” and a “you don’t owe us anything for that.” They ROCK. Sounds like your store does too.

  9. Posted July 18, 2005 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    love the photo! The cabbie story is great.

  10. Jenny D
    Posted July 19, 2005 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    I really liked this entry, Andrea. I always feel guilty and like an imposition when I ask for help… this was a nice reminder that people like to share their skills, knowledge and time with people in need who are grateful. Its essential for our souls to help others!
    And Donovan! My oh my, what a lovely story… it gave me chills and an excited feeling. And I especially loved what you said about “by being Creative, we hold the hand of God”. You have touched me.
    Thanks, as always, for sharing your heart with us, Andrea. I am grateful for you!

  11. Posted July 19, 2005 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Are you kidding, Andrea? With a face like yours, he probably *yearns* for the days when you wander into his shop.
    In fact, I bet he’s the one who disconnected your brakes.

  12. meg
    Posted July 19, 2005 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Whew… and on a day when I was having such a horrible day at work… office drama on top of office drama. It’s funny, days when I’m having a real crisis and I look at your website for something, because I’m grasping at straws, there is always some new post that is right on target. Why do you think that is? Anyway, thanks. When I feel slightly more sane, this will give me something wonderful to ponder.

  13. Posted July 19, 2005 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    i love this story.
    i just started scrapbooking. i took a class at a local studio and the owner was the teacher that day. i had decided to make a book for my dad for father’s day. i had three weeks to complete the book and had never scrapbooked a day in my life. so after the class the teacher helped me pick out a kit that was supposed to have everything you need for a book. i get home, open the kit and i am lost. i don’t understand half the suff in the kit. i end up going to scrapbook studio about eight more times. each time asking the owner a question or two, always saying sorry for bothering her and taking up her time. last week i signed up for a christmas card class at the same scrapbook studio and when i went i saw the owner. she told me how great it was to see me, and how each time i came in, and she saw me leave excited it reminded her why ten years ago she opend up her studio. she told me that she opened the shop so people could come into and share with each other, even if it was only about something like scrapbooking, it was a start and that seeing me keep coming in to try new things reminded her of that.
    reading your story reminded me that sometimes when we ask for help we are actually heling in return.
    thank you for sharing andrea.

  14. Vonda
    Posted July 19, 2005 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    I found your website through a friends blog … I decided to click on the link just out of curiosity and was so inspired – what a terrific place to spend a while and visit! :) Anyhow, I had to post a little note and tell you how much I love your photography you do beautiful work. I’ll probably be back for another visit – hope you don’t mind. :) Thanks for sharing your talent. :)

  15. megara
    Posted July 20, 2005 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Hi Andrea,
    I keep coming back, over and over, and it’s amazing how your posts are incredibly on time when I’m having a sad day.
    Why are so many women sad? Why are so many women forced to take a battle against the world on their own (ie. Cindy) I have taken on battle after battle. Living in Mexico does not make it easy, living in a small conservative, superficial, town is choking me, and having to struggle day after day with the fact that I’m culturally, educationally different, and have uncommon likes and dislikes is really draining. But the worst is when I have to fight myself. It’s then that I remember to type the address of your blog and i find these bits of wisdom and peace of mind.
    Thank you!

  16. Posted July 21, 2005 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    you inspired me to bring my broken bike to pedal rev today:) i’m so happy it’s fixed!!! thanks for the nudge.