In the summer of 2022, mostly by virtue of an efficient and lazy disposition, I had purchased a simple commuter bike from a person off Facebook Marketplace. It was a simple, five-speed bike with a kickstand. It was amazing, but I could not ride it for longer distances, but it did the job just fine, so I didn't think much of it.
Over time, as it began to dawn on me that I wasn't really riding this bike for longer distances, I began to think about things. Much earlier this year, I logged back in to my Craigslist account, with a view to bill.
I had a few things in mind:
- A bike that could handle longer distances
- Better suspension
- Cheaper than a brand-new bike
Craigslist is a whole another ballgame compared to Facebook Marketplace. It oozes a certain energy, a sort of hideous charm and all that.
Anyway, I saw this anonymous post about a "like-new" mountain bike, year old, <$100, and one photo.
What the hell, I thought, and why the hell not. So I emailed the person, and they responded back via email.
I set up a time to meet the man near his building complex, and arrived to the place and sent him a heads-up email.
Unbeknownst to me, the man had also posted his phone number in the Craigslist posting. I had missed this part completely.
After about 10 minutes of waiting I decided to glance at the Craigslist posting again, lo and behold, found a phone number in plain sight. I called the seller immediately and listened to a sleepy voice let me know he would be down in 5.
Let the record show that 1. the unusual aura that I sometimes emanate is an involuntary phenomenon witnessed more easily by people I am close to, and 2. I was wearing my normal outdoor clothes. Normal outfit.
When the sun had just started crouching near the skyline, the building gates opened and a strange and slightly wrinkly man walked out, rolling forth a mountain bike.
The bike looked fine, short, minimal wear and tear, a bit low on air in the tires, but really without any major flags. What was more interesting is the way this old man - in a black sweater and a long, bushy white beard and mustache - was squinting at me, but not unkindly. It reminded me of one of those scenes in Star Wars or Lord of the Rings where the protagonists interact with a mysterious bearded figure. I wondered what kind of things this person had seen in his lifetime. What kind of people had let him pick their brain, maybe? And what was up with the squinting?
Alright. Visages and mysteries aside, I asked him if I could take it for a spin, and he said sure, and I did, and it was fine, and I said I'd take it.
Here's the best part. When it was the moment of the transaction, he gripped my palm in a generally firm handshake and said "Have the bike. It's yours." Note that I had not yet paid him. I was a bit taken aback, but I said "Thank you" and he said "You're welcome" and I said "I'll pay you" and he said "Take the bike."
So I blinked again and said, "Well, would you at least take this $[redacted]?"
With barely a glance at it, he said, "Sure", and then, suddenly, a sturdy bike lock had materialized in his hand, and he said "Here, take this too."
Before the day was over, I would have serviced the bike for the road and emailed the man my sincere thanks for such a wonderful gift, to which his only response was to ride with caution.
Even as I was clipping the lock to my new bike(?) he looked me over once again and grinned. "Thanks," I said, and he nodded.
Then he turned around and walked back into the building, and I never once saw him again, and the bike has been delightful company since. And now, I'm going to write poetry, if I haven't unknowingly been doing it already.