New Bike, Old Philosopher
I have always been a little bit afraid of bicycles. Don’t ask me why. I can ride them fine, and I understand how they work. But people who ride bicycles always seem so smug and judgmental. It is a difficult thing to get into later in life because cyclists aren’t generally the type of people who will let you take it easy and go your own pace.
Oh, they all say they are easy going, but it is an intense community full of products and policies and prophecies of doom. People who are really into bicycles have very strong opinions, and they often clash with my own strong opinions. I guess its not bikes themselves I am afraid of, but bike culture.
But I am trying to do new things, and get over things that scare me. And, you know, be more popular I guess. So a few months ago I went out a bought a new bike. All the bells and whistles. Geometry so modern it would make Euclid swoon. Everything I need to get into the world’s most popular and annoying form of transportation.
Buying expensive, specialized things is always sort of nerve wracking. Especially when the salesperson starts telling you all the ways you can immediately ruin your new, expensive thing. What it usually comes down to is the expert telling you your thing will break, and if you try to fix it yourself you will only break it more. People will tell you this about cars. They will tell you this about computers. And they will tell you this about bikes.
So that guy was telling me all about my new bike, and how I would need to return for the shop for maintenance. Naturally, I said to him, “So, I can probably fix this myself then?”
“Yeah, you maybe could,” he said as he shifted uncomfortably.
I think I should mention here that he was wearing the tiniest little bike shorts, uncomfortably tiny, and the most massive wool sweater I have ever seen. Bike people are weird.
“We see a lot of people who try to fix these things themselves,” he continued, “and they always make it worse.”
Such is the case of many things in life.
“Well, I like fixing things,” I said, “And I do have many things that now lie broken because I tried to repair them. But a thing that doesn’t work because I broke it is still, maybe slightly, better than a thing that does work because someone else fixed it.”
And the salesman in his little shorts looked at me like I was crazy. But not so crazy that he wouldn’t take my credit card.
It doesn’t make a lot of sense to prefer a thing that I broke to a thing that someone else fixed, but that is how I feel, and feelings are often nonsensical and wrong.
Still, I think most people can agree that the best thing is a thing you fixed yourself, and the worse thing is a thing someone else ruined.
Besides, I am trying to do more things that scare me. I am a bit afraid of ruining things, so maybe I should get out there are start breaking more stuff!