Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Shop Is Born

Alright, then: Let the Wild Rumpus Begin!
(Maurice Sendak, the Space Cowboy)

I Get Prizes

Last Friday I got a Shipment of Wonderfulness. Now, I have ordered bike parts online before, but this time was different. I wasn't getting just bike parts: I also ordered up a Park PCS-9 Work Stand.

Now I know, this is the 'Entry-Level” home-boy version of the Park line of stands, but man, compared to the weird rigs I have cooked up in the past to work on my bicycles, anything was an improvement. But listen: This Thing Takes Up Space. How much space? Well, to put it into scientific terms: A Lot. When you live in a single wide trailer, space isn't that important, because you don't have any. But what I did have was a moldy old sofa that nobody ever sat on, except Miss Daisy. In fact, no one would sit on that couch primarily because Miss Daisy was always already on it and being pretty territorial about things. And any person who did sit on that Davenport of Despair would soon find themselves covered in more dog hair than, well, the dog. So...Out With It! The Couch, not the Dog, although she did stick rather close to the proceedings of one sneezing snorting old cyclist pulling and huffing and dragging and cussing his way to what would have been the curb if we had curbs in my neighborhood.

The Return of the Voice

Then, for the first time since I stopped riding, the Voice spoke. Why stop with the sofa? I looked around. Nobody here but me and the dawg.

Daisy, did you hear something?”

Might as well go all the way.

Voice!” I cried. “I never even noticed you were gone! Now shut up and grab the other end of the coffee table!” But Voices don't move furniture. I had to take the rest of my Salvation Army crap out to the place where the curb wasn't by Me My Ownself, the same way I seem to have to do a lot of things. But I didn't care. I was Making Space and Rockin' and Rollin'. I kept looking over at that PCS-9 and grinning like when I was seven years old and got that American Flyer Snow Sled. In fact, it was just like that memory and I was a little embarrassed to be so excited about a Bicycle Work Stand. But I was.


Here's why: Not just anybody is going to drop a hundred bucks on something as esoteric as a bicycle work stand. Unless of course, you frequently work on bikes and get paid for doing it. At this point, any person who pays me to work on their bicycle is in for a Wild Ride indeed. But I'm working on it, man, I'm working on it. I had searched diligently for an alternative to spending that hundred dollars. The most common oddball non-answer was to hang your bicycle from the ceiling by a couple of ropes. I wonder if anyone ever actually did this. It would involve drilling holes in the ceiling and installing anchor bolts and who knows what else. I really think this “Tip For the Home Bicycle Repairman” probably dates back to a 1945 issue of Popular Mechanics, a time when every home had a car barn with exposed rafters and lots of war surplus rope laying around the farm.

The Once and Future Pro

Thirty years as a pro carpenter-contractor taught me one thing: sometimes you gotta Bite the Bullet and Buy the Tool. And here I was, waltzing around with bulging pockets and looking for some new inanimate object to replace the hole in my heart left by my dearly departed Step Van, the very absence of whom was financing this buying spree. So I did it, I placed the order, got the stand and now Here She Was, sitting in the middle of what once was The Living Room but would henceforth be known as The Shop. I suspect some actual Living will now take place in that small space.

All My Life's A Circle

The sun was setting over the Whispering Pines Trailer Park when me and Miss Daisy went outside to do her business. I like to sometimes end my stories with the blessed beauty of a Florida Summer Sunset, but not this time. While I was sneaking peeks back through the open door of the trailer, admiring the Shrine of the Stand, Standing Outside Looking In, so to speak, Miss Daisy stiffened and gave her no-joke double-tap sharp bark that means “Look at this right now, Boss!” and I did and there they were, two people less fortunate than I, loading that old couch onto a beat up old pickup truck that looked like a perfect match for what had been the Throne of the Dog. They froze in mid-lift, having no doubt had their activities interrupted by dogs before. I barked the “Stand Down” bark back at the dog and went over to the couple.

We figured this was free,”  said the scruffy guy on the East end of the couch.

It is,” I said.

Does that dog bite?” asked the woman on the Sunset end of the lift.

All the time,” I said. “But she won't bite you guys.” They shoved the couch onto the pickup.  Do you guys drink beer?” I asked.

All the time and lots of it,” the guy said, smiling now. “Why do you ask?”

Oh, because I have a couple extra. Watch the dog, will ya?” I went into the trailer to the fridge. I consciously did not look at The Stand.

A Slice of Moon

This is how it really ended, my Day of Prizes. Three Down-And-Outers, happy to be there, standing around a beat up old pickup truck drinking beer. Twice now we have laughed until tears came, and once tears came without laughter. We're all in this together, we have figured out; and we ceremoniously put our crushed beer cans into a five gallon bucket in the back of the pickup. They will be recycled later. There are a lot more than a couple of empty beer cans in there by now.

Say Goodbye, Daisy.

Miss Daisy has handed out so many dog kisses and dog smiles and received so many back scratches and belly rubs that she is worn out. She sleeps completely at ease on her old couch in the back of the truck. There is a sliver of moon now, cresting the sky in the southeast. The bugs have let up a little and a mischievous breeze teases our hopes and caresses our dreams.

Well, we gotta get on.” said Uncle Bill.
Thanks for the couch, hon,” said Sarah, kissing me on the cheek. “And the beers!” adding a sneaky wink.

No, thank you guys,” I say. “C'mon Daisy!” She gets up slow, steps off the couch into the bed of the truck, stretches and yawns. She walks like an Old Dog to the tailgate, looks down, then looks at me. “C'mon, Granny,” I say, not falling for her Little Old Lady routine. “Let's go! Hyah!” She gives us all a fathomless dog-look and jumps lightly to the ground. Uncle Bill swings the tailgate shut.

It doesn't close just right, you gotta kinda angle it in. “

Say Goodbye, Daisy,” I say.

Goodbye, Daisy,” says Sarah, stooping down to give her a hug. More Dog Smiles.

Goodbye, Daisy,” says Uncle Bill, “And thanks, man, really”, he says to me.

I don't say anything. I just smile and make a little wave in the air that means more than I could have said anyway and they get into the truck, start her up and leave.

And Then, Just Like That, It is Over

Daisy has to do some more business after all that beer and I join her. The moon is high, now, and so are we. We go back into the trailer. Daisy looks at the spot where the couch used to be, looks up at me, yawns, and goes into my room. I can hear her climb into my bunk and settle down. It is actually a little late for these two Old Dogs. I sneak a shy glance at The Stand.  Go ahead, says the Voice. “Why not?” I say. I had been waiting for this. I take me Old Darlin', lift her under the top tube with one hand and gently tighten the clamp around the seatpost. I reach back and adjust the angle clamp just right. This Park PCS-9 is a High Quality Tool. You feel it as soon as you put it to work. I step back and admire the art.  There it is, man!  My Old Schwinn in a Park Tool Work Stand!

It's been a hell of a day, says the Voice.

It certainly has, buddy, it certainly has,” I say. “And welcome back. We got things to do.”

Next:  Wrenchin' Like I Mean It With A Century On the Doorstep

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Used Furniture Emporium

1 comment:

  1. Oh man I've got some major amateur bike mechanic envy going on over that suh-weet PCS-9! beats the heck out of my two legged stand hook over the down tube arrangement. Enjoy that stand my velo brutha-looking forward to pictures of the Le Tour embraced in the welcoming arms of the PCS-9