By speaking to this girl at the library, telling her how to keep her bike safe from the likes of me, I’d become memorable, recognizable. Now I was making the risk worse by talking with her further. But for some reason, I admit the truth, at least the truth about not being a student. I also tell her that I run a mobile bike mechanic service, which is a lie, but will be true beginning tomorrow. Because, truth is, being recognized for a kindness felt good. Beginning tomorrow my gifts as a bike mechanic will be brought to light.
I have a stand, tools, and a sign on a trailer I towed with my own Surly Cross Check. Where before I tried to blend in, now I try to stand out, brand my business as the bike mechanic who’ll come to you, work around your schedule.
I joke with a young man walking by that he needs a bike. Then he tells me his got stolen.
“You must be pissed,” I say.
“Eh. They musta needed that bike more than I.”
I watch him walk on. I hadn’t needed the bikes I stole. What was it I needed?
“How much?” asks my first customer.
“Pay me for parts if any are needed. If you have time stick around and I’ll teach you how to do this yourself.”
“That’s bad business!”
“Consider it a gift.”
And I change the rates on my sign to say Free.
People give me coffee. Somebody brings me lunch.
Someone from the college comes by, asks me if I’d give bike repair workshops two evenings a week. They have a space, they’ll pay me for my time. The cycling team is looking for a mechanic too, he thinks.
This is a good day.
This is the final installment of a thread that started with the August 29 challenge from Carrot Ranch as “Cutting Loose”, then continued through two Six Sentence Stories, “Good Business” and “Sidelined“, and ends here as another 99 word Ranch response.
The September 12, 2019, prompt? In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes the greatest gift. Answer it as if it were a question, or show what it could be. Go where the prompt leads you!