Greetings to the Ladies Jane —
I arrived at the local discount department store at 8.30 last Saturday morning. I pull up, and I see a young, thin black guy trying to wrestle a (presumably new) bicycle into the back seat of his car. A white lady walking into the store stops, says something to him, smiles, walks towards him. “How nice of her,” I think as I park, put away stuff in the car, dally a bit about getting out. I get out and see them, together, trying to wrestle this 10-speed sized bike into the backseat of his car.
He’s driving a 4-door small-ish sedan. Like mine. I laugh out loud at this sight.
I open the trunk of my car, get out the crappy yellow dollar store nylon rope that I used to tie something to my own car approximately 3 years ago. I take it over to them, she laughs and looks relieved someone else is here. She’s obviously in over her head. He still looks confused as to why this damned thing doesn’t fit in his car. I tell her that I’ve done this before, “Just put it in the trunk and tie it up,” I say. She is totally grateful and runs off after telling him, “Oh, look, see? Someone who knows what she’s doing!” She scampers off.
He looks at me, relieved, and I tell him to keep the rope, put bicycle in the trunk, tie it all up, and he’ll be fine. He takes the rope, and he’s grateful. We say a few nice words, I notice that he’s probably gay (it’s his up-turned ’80s collar thing that has become trendy again in the gay bars that makes me think so), that he has some sort of Mediterranean/French/African accent to his perfect grammar, and I head into the store.
No pun intended, but what a colorful (yet strangely formal) young man!
Now, it’s not even 9.00 on a Saturday morning in a discount department store. I walk to the middle of the store, buy 5 SpaceBags, pick up a silver jewelry cleaning cloth on the way, and snag a pair of drawstring sweatshorts (without even trying them on) on the way back towards the register. I walk up to an open register, check out, and walk back towards my car. This took maybe 20 minutes.
At this point, you can imagine that the very last thing I expect to see in the parking lot is the colorful foreign young gay black man with perfect grammar still jacking around trying to get his bicycle into his 4-door small-ish sedan, right?
That’s exactly what I see.
I walk up to him again and, this time, he looks more embarrassed than anything. “Was there a particular technique you used when you transported yours?” he asks. I blink, but only at the still-surprising formal language. “Well, first, it has to go in the trunk, sweetie!” I reply.
While I was in the store, e’d been trying to tie the door closed, with the bike hanging out of the car. Thank God he figured out that was unwise.
He tries to tell me he is okay, he’d called his (somebody), and he was bringing a truck.
“No need!” I cry. The situation has transmuted from giving a stranger a piece of cheap nylon rope to becoming my mission in life to get this chap, and his new bicycle, to his destination in his little car. “Trust me!” I cry, “It’ll go in the trunk!”
He tries to protest, saying that it doesn’t fit. “Trust me!” I cry again, “This will work! I know it doesn’t look like it, but I’ve done it, in that car!” pointing towards Betsy, my small-sh 4-door sedan. For extra emphasis, and because of my native excitability, I pantomime putting the bicycle in the trunk.
He looks doubtful, but, partly out of politeness at my sense of interest/helpfulness and partly because of my overwhelming confidence, he pulls the bicycle out of the car and tries to stick one end in the trunk. The problem immediately becomes clear to me.
He’d been putting the wrong end into the trunk.
I laugh out loud, and his expression changes from embarrassed to confused again. “Nope, that’s your trouble right there! You have to put the other end in first,” and I grab the handlebar and pull the front end of the bicycle towards me (and out of the trunk). He put the back end in, and I moved it diagonally into the back corner. I point out to him that the part of the bicycle touching his bumper paint are tire rubber and that the frame of the bicycle iss actually resting on the rubber seal of the trunk, so that nothing will be damaged. He understands, but isn’t figuring out where I am going with this yet. He’s still envisioning this thing flopping out of his trunk in the middle of the street on his way home.
Then I wrap the rope around the trunk lid, front-to-back, pull both ends towards me, and close the trunk onto the bicycle. Then I run the rope around the bicycle frame a couple of times, and run them around the trunk lid again.
The light goes off in his head. He beams.
He helps me tighten the whole rig down, running the rope around the trunk lid and the bicycle frame a few more times, and seems very impressed when, at the end, I grab hold of the bicycle and tugged (hard!) and wiggle back-and-forth and it doesn’t move.
He grins ear-to-ear and thanks me profusely, and I just laugh and say, “Just help out someone else when they need it.” I turn to leave and then turn back, “Hey, go call the guy with the truck and tell him not to come!” He looks confused again, then throws his head back and laughs, scampering off towards the store . . .
After all of that, I really would have let him use my cell ‘phone if I had realized he didn’t have one. Seriously.