Friday, August 27, 2010


There is a bike shop in my neighborhood, 3 blocks from my apartment, called Backyard. It is in the middle of a block of businesses, marked by a bright orange sign that hangs over the sidewalk. I had been riding my bike for two weeks on flat tires and faulty brakes, the latter a result of my bad habit of hurtling down the hills and screeching to a stop just before I ran into poles, streets, or bystanders. I went in one morning, and tried to explain in my best Deutsch that the bike needed servicing. “Oh,” said the young bike man apologetically, “you must make an appointment for service.” He asked me what was wrong, and then immediately fixed all the problems-- inflating the tires and tightening up the brakes. “Good as new,” he said. I asked cautiously if I owed anything, not wanting to offend his generosity. “As far as I know, air is still free,” he said. So I made an appointment for full servicing at their next available time-- 3 weeks in the future. On that day, I left my bike there. “It will be 50 francs to wash and polish your velo, do you want that?” No, I told him, I can do that on my own. The next day I came to retrieve my bike. “I have tightened every screw,” he said (I know that he did). I shortened the cables to the brakes so they will not slip, I greased the chain and reset your basket so it will not slip. I can tighten it with screws so that no one can take it?” No, I told him, that’s ok. “I was thinking to myself,” he said, “maybe you would want a kick-stand, so you don’t have to find a place to hold your bike up. It is only 9.98 more.” Will it take long? I asked. No, I can do it very quickly, he said. So he added a kick-stand, very quickly and very expertly, the kick-stand snapping smartly into place. And only when I got home I noticed, that he had washed it, anyway.